Monday, September 25, 2006

Contra Costa Times: Cal 'O' ahead of touted 'D'

Offense sizzling with new faces; fast defense has tackling troubles

By Jay Heater

BERKELEY — So if you are a Cal fan, are you more confident in the offense or the defense?  The defense was supposed to be the team strength, with All-American candidates at linebacker (Desmond Bishop), defensive tackle (Brandon Mebane) and cornerback (Daymeion Hughes). Combined with the assumption that the Bears had extraordinary talent, as well in linebacker Mickey Pimentel and defensive end Nu'u Tafisi, it looked as if the Bears would stifle opposing teams.  In comparison, the offense had to rebuild the line and find a quarterback.  After a 3-1 start, though, it appears that the offense might be a step ahead. Cal is averaging 444.5 yards per game, and offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar is mixing up his weapons so well that teams have been left dazed and confused.

Defensively, coodinator Bob Gregory has to be pleased with the 22.2 points a game his team is allowing, but the Bears are giving up an average of 164.8 rushing yards a game.  Cal coach Jeff Tedford, whose team plays at Oregon State on Saturday, was asked after Sunday's workout at Memorial Stadium if he was concerned with the amount of rushing yardage his team was allowing. "Absolutely," he said. "Stopping the run is something we need to do."  In its 35-18 loss at Tennesee in the opener, Cal allowed the Volunteers to ramble for 216 yards. Arizona State gained 237 rushing on Saturday, including 191 yards by tailback Ryan Torain.  "Our tackling was not what we are used to having," Tedford said about the Bears' effort on Saturday.  However, Gregory's defense scored two touchdowns and produced five turnovers against the Sun Devils.  That kind of effort has the players excited, whether or not ASU ran up rushing yards. "Our team speed is tremendous," Cal cornerback Daymeion Hughes said. "We can compete with anyone."

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