Monday, April 30, 2007

CBS Sportsline: 3 Cal Alums Were Best Picks for their Respective Teams

Thanks to Ed for forwarding this:


Pete Prisco, on lists Marshawn Lynch, Daymeion Hughes and Brandon Mebane as the best picks for the Bills, Colts, and Seahawks respectively. Here’s the link


Buffalo Bills:

Best pick: Taking Marshawn Lynch with their first pick will prove to be a great move. He will be their franchise back for a long time.


Indianapolis Colts:

Best pick: Third-round pick Daymeion Hughes was once considered a first-round talent. Slow times dropped him down, but in the Colts defense they can cover that up.


Seattle Seahawks

Best pick: Third-round pick Brandon Mebane is a 305-pound defensive tackle who will help the run defense. Cal's Marshawn Lynch Selected in NFL Draft's First Round

Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year Picked at No. 12 by Buffalo Bills

BERKELEY - Former University of California standout running back Marshawn Lynch was selected with the No. 12 pick of the first round of the NFL Draft on Saturday by the Buffalo Bills. The 2006 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, Lynch is the highest Golden Bear draft pick since Andre Carter was chosen No. 7 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 2001. In program history, only eight California players have been selected higher than the No. 12 overall pick.  

Lynch departed California after three seasons as the school's second-leading rusher with 3,230 yards in his three-year career. He scored 35 touchdowns in 35 career games and had a school-record 17 career 100-yard rushing games. In addition to becoming just the second Golden Bear to run for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons, Lynch was rated as the No. 1 running back in the nation by in October. In 2006, he led the Pac-10 in rushing yards (1,356), touchdowns (15) and all-purpose yards (1,785).    During Lynch's time in Berkeley, California posted a 28-9 (.757) record, including a pair of bowl victories. Lynch was the Most Valuable Player of the 2005 Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl after running for 194 yards and three touchdowns, as well as being the co-MVP of the 2006 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl when he ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bears to a 45-10 victory over Texas A&M. Cal's 10 wins this year give it two 10-win seasons in three years; the Golden Bears have been ranked in the top 10 in each of Lynch's three seasons with the program.   In addition to being a powerful, bruising runner with outstanding quickness, Lynch has proven to be a potent receiver and an outstanding blocker in the backfield. He tallied 68 receptions for 600 yards with six touchdowns in his career.

As a sophomore, Lynch established himself as one of the top running backs in the country with 1,246 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He ranked seventh nationally with 124.6 rushing yards per game. While playing behind current NFL running back JJ Arrington as a freshman in 2004, Lynch carried 71 times for 628, an amazing average of 8.8 yards per rush.   Lynch was a nationally-rated All-American at Oakland Tech High School, where he rushed for over 2,000 yards with 33 touchdowns in 10 games as a senior. In his final prep season, he recorded 10 touchdowns in two playoff games.

California now has had 22 first-round draft picks in its history, including four under Tedford. In 2005, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was selected No. 24 overall by the Green Bay Packers, while in 2003 quarterback Kyle Boller went No. 19 to the Baltimore Ravens and Nnamdi Asomugha was picked at No. 31 by the Oakland Raiders. The Bears open the 2007 season on Sept. 1, hosting Tennessee in a rematch of last year's season-opener. Other games on the Cal home slate include USC, Arizona, Oregon State, Washington State and Louisiana Tech. For further information or to purchase season tickets, visit or call 1-800-GO-BEARS.

San Jose Mercury: Inexperienced group to replace Cal's Hughes

Players vie to succeed Pac-10's top defender

By Jonathan Okanes

If spring practice taught Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory one thing, it's that the cupboard isn't bare in the program's efforts to replace All-America cornerback Daymeion Hughes. Now it's just a matter of organizing the cupboard the right way.  While Hughes has been busy preparing for the NFL draft at the end of the month, the Bears have been taking a look at his potential replacements. In freshmen Darian Hagan and Charles Amadi and senior Brandon Hampton, Cal feels prepared to move on without last season's Pac-10 defensive player of the year. "We're young and inexperienced, but I feel like we have a lot of depth," Gregory said. "They have a lot of ability but they are still learning."  The Bears held their final spring practice Saturday, one that consisted mostly of scrimmaging in different game situations. While sophomore Syd'Quan Thompson is a lock at one corner after starting every game last season, the position that Hughes left vacant was one of Cal's biggest concerns when spring practice began March 12.  Hagan played with the first unit Saturday, but that doesn't mean he'll be the starter. The Bears didn't get much of a look at Amadi because he suffered a groin injury during the first week of practice. Hampton is a senior, but is making the switch from rover, where he was a starter last season. 

"It's still up in the air," Gregory said. "It's different if they were defensive tackles and they give up a first down if they make a mistake. If (a defensive back makes mistakes), I'm out of a job."   The offensive line was one of Cal's other major question marks this spring. Center Alex Mack, tackle Mike Gibson and guard Noris Malele should be starters (Gibson and Malele missed the spring with injuries). Mike Tepper started Saturday at left tackle and is a good bet to remain with the first unit. Cal Coach Jeff Tedford singled out the strong spring by guard Brian De La Puente.  The practice, which drew a couple of thousand fans, included back-to-back punt returns for touchdowns by Hampton and Brandon Jones.  The Bears didn't run the ball particularly well, but quarterback Nate Longshore was 9 for 13 for 130 yards and three touchdowns in limited action.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Napa Valley Register: Cal Wraps Up Spring Practice

Here’s the link.

The UC Berkeley football team finished its spring drills earlier this month with a practice before a crowd of over 2,000 fans at Memorial Stadium. Nate Longshore completed 9-of-13 passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns to lead the offense.  The Golden Bears open the season on Sept. 1 against visiting Tennessee. Season tickets are available by visiting or by calling 1-800-GO-BEARS.


Sports Illustrated: Cal Ranked 20th in Stewart Mandel's Power Rankings

Here is the Link.


Cal Golden Bears (10-3)

Key returnees: QB Nate Longshore, RB Justin Forsett, WRs DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan, LB Worrell Williams


Spring star: RB James Montgomery. With Marshawn Lynch off to the NFL, the versatile redshirt freshman will likely fill the change-of-pace role previously held by Forsett, now the No. 1 guy.


Spring recap: The Bears knew what to expect from their many veteran skill players. The offensive line, which lost three veteran starters, may be a little thin on depth. Redshirt freshman DE Derrick Hill leads a cast of promising young defenders. The second cornerback spot remains a concern.

Daily Cal Interview with Zack Follett: Cal to Intimidate Tennessee Volunteers

Here is the link.

Brian Bainum: So what is all this I heard about you working with plywood?

Zack Follett: It’s a joint thing me and (fellow linebacker) Greg Van Hoesen put together. I get these big things of plywood and then I’ll get my favorite athlete and I print them out on a clear piece of paper and put it on the piece of wood and cut it out with a jigsaw and sand it. Then Greg comes along and paints it. He can paint some unbelievable things.


BB: Who have you guys done so far?

ZF: We’re doing Russell Crowe from Gladiator. It’s cool. We’re also making one for (San Diego Chargers fullback) Lorenzo Neal, because he’s from Fresno and we work out together. We’ll see how he likes it.


BB: Now you guys have to start getting commercials like Ben Roethlisberger and Fathead.

ZF: That would be sweet.


BB: You could make a Brian Urlacher cutout. Isn’t he your favorite linebacker?

ZF: Yeah. My uncle just met him and got a signed picture of him, and I put it up in my room.


BB: Nice. Did you see how he got fined $100,000 for wearing an unsanctioned hat at the Super Bowl?

ZF: Yeah, that’s kind of extreme. I mean, he gets fined $5,000 for hitting a guy helmet-to-helmet, then he wears the wrong hat and gets $100,000.


BB: Switching gears, you guys just finished up spring ball. Do you feel more in a leadership role now that Desmond and Mickey are gone?

ZF: Definitely. The coaches put it on me. They even moved me to (middle linebacker) for three weeks during the spring, but they finally realized that wasn’t the spot for me. It was too robotic. The weak side is way more natural for me.


BB: Have you talked to Des or Mickey with the NFL draft so close now?

ZF: I ask them how things are going. They get to talk to a lot of athletes around the country, and they’re saying once I get there and get my chance, there is nothing to be intimidated about.


BB: Along those lines, it appeared you guys maybe were a little intimidated in last year’s opener at Tennessee. Are you already thinking about September’s rematch here in Berkeley?

ZF: We had a team meeting early in the morning when spring ball was over, and Coach Tedford put together a TV clip of the Tennessee game and what the commentators were saying about it, basically mocking us and laughing at us. They were saying how they can put their third string guys in the third quarter and this and that. I’ve been motivated since that plane ride home. I told the team they have my 100 percent dedication. I’m going to go out there and try to hurt people.


BB: Sounds like you’re ready to go right now.

ZF: Yeah, really what motivated me was when Desmond came back. He had talked to a Tennessee linebacker and Desmond asked him what they thought of us. And in their minds, they think California players are soft. Personally, that pissed me off.


BB: You think the crowd will be ready to bring it too?

ZF: I predict it is going to be one of the loudest and most exciting games at Cal. The Big Game, it’s still the Big Game, but they are not as competitive. They are bringing something in or trying to figure out something to make it loud, just like Tennessee.


BB: They’re bringing something in?

ZF: They haven’t really talked about it. I think they are trying to keep it under wraps, but they are going to do whatever is legal to help the crowd out.

BB: And, on the field, you go out there and hurt people … as long as it’s legal.

USA Today: Lynch a good fit for West Coast offense

By Chris Colston, USA TODAY

Most experts tab Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson as the top pure running back heading into this year's NFL draft. But can he scale walls like Spider-man?  On April 22, 2005, California players met inside Memorial Stadium for a spring practice positional meeting. Knowing it was Marshawn Lynch's 19th birthday, his teammates tried to give him a celebratory spanking. But with one leap he eluded them, springing up a 10-foot dividing wall and pulling himself to its top ledge.  "We were laughing — and amazed at the same time," teammate Justin Forsett says. "It was one of the most incredible things I've seen anybody do."

That's a statement, considering Lynch rushed for 3,230 yards and scored 35 touchdowns in three years at Cal. While Peterson might be the best runner available for the April 28 draft, Lynch (5-11, 215) is a compelling option because of his versatility. He's an excellent receiver who feels comfortable lining up in the slot position; as a runner, he can bounce off a defender or make him miss. And as a former high school quarterback, Lynch says, "I can throw about a 70-yard pass." He tossed two touchdown passes at Cal.  "He's a good fit for a West Coast offense," analyst Derek Harper says. "I think he'll be a fine NFL pro for the next eight, 10 years. We're not talking an All-Pro here, but he might be a borderline Pro Bowler." Although Lynch rushed for more than 100 yards a school-record 17 times, he isn't one to tout himself. His mother, Delisa, says: "He's like his grandmother Shirley — shy. When he was a little boy, he was so quiet I'd forget he was in the car."  But Lynch trusts his talent enough to compare himself to the likes of NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers and Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints.  "He has the potential to be that type of guy," Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford says. "He's proven it at this level, and he has the potential to prove it at the next level."

Some experts believe that's a stretch. "L.T. and Bush are two of the most eye-popping talents I've ever seen," senior analyst Rob Rang says. "But Lynch is a legit first-round pick."  Some knock Lynch for being part of a two-back offense at Cal, but that could work to his advantage. It has saved wear and tear on his body, and more NFL teams are going to a two-back system.  In January, Lynch had to deal with questions about his character when a woman, claiming to be his ex-girlfriend, accused him of domestic and sexual assault. But charges were never filed, and prosecutors cited a lack of evidence and inconsistencies in the accuser's allegations.  "I was innocent," Lynch says, "and we got that taken care of."  Rang doesn't feel the off-field questions will hurt Lynch's draft stock. "I called several teams and asked them specifically about those off-field issues," Rang says. "Every team I talked to said it wasn't a concern to them at all." Forsett says Lynch was one of Cal's most popular players and sees him excelling at the next level. Harper agrees. "I see him rushing for 1,300 to 1,500 yards," Harper says, "and catching 60 balls out of the backfield."  And if a 10-foot wall must be scaled, he can do that, too.



Tuesday, April 24, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle: Hughes' value takes a hit

'Gurus' write off ex-Cal DB

Rusty Simmons, Chronicle Staff Writer

Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory's resume consists of almost 20 years of coaching experience and two decades worth of statistics that prove his defensive philosophies to be dependable, but Daymeion Hughes needed only a few weeks of practice to convince his coach of one necessary overhaul.   "Every summer, I used to sit down, go through the list of recruits and think about which ones might be able to play for us right away," Gregory said. "I didn't think Daymeion Hughes would be an early starter for us, but he proved me wrong pretty quickly.  "I don't predict that stuff anymore."  Four years after his arrival and winning arguments in Berkeley, Hughes is faced with a similar situation as he prepares for the NFL draft, which lingers just days away. Once again, a flock of defensive gurus seems to be writing off Hughes.

The Ronnie Lott Trophy winner and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year has dropped from a projected first-round pick to being drafted as late as the fourth round. According to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., Hughes has dropped from the second- to the 10th-best cornerback in the draft and from a Patriots first-round pick to a compensatory pick in the fourth round.  Hughes' stock might have fallen as much as anyone in the draft, and most of the precipitous drop can be attributed to a slow time in the 40-yard dash. Running with a less-than-healthy hamstring, Hughes was clocked at 4.74-seconds at the combine and countered with a 4.56 at Cal's Pro Day; NFL corners usually are expected to run in the 4.4 range.  "The whole falling-stock thing is based on one run," said Hughes, who measured 5-foot-101/2 and 190 pounds at the NFL Combine. "A whole career can't be negated by one run."  Hughes remains calm, because he has been here before.  Think back to Gregory's original assessment. At the time, Gregory actually was considering using Hughes as a running back.  Would he ever settle into one position? Would he ever fill out his frame? Would he ever become an every-down player?  There's no question about those three issues anymore. Scouts believe Hughes' instincts and ball skills to be as polished as anyone at the position; his sculpted body is close to the prototype for a corner, and, on almost a week-to-week basis, he pretty much shut down a top-notch receiver who probably will end up being drafted in an earlier round than Hughes will.  "I don't really see the questions as positives anymore," said Hughes, who was second in the nation with eight interceptions last season. "I'm going to do what I have to do regardless, and I'll definitely use it as motivation, but I feel like I've proven myself."

NFL scouts appear to agree, but few, if any, are willing to deem Hughes worthy of a first-round pick.  "It's like Christmas; Hughes isn't the shiny, bright toy that gets people excited, but he's the toy that you play with the longest," NFL Draft Blitz President Chris Horwedel said. "He may never make it to Hawaii (to the Pro Bowl) or grace the cover of Madden, but he's going to be a rock for some lucky team for a long while."  Many NFL decision-makers compare Hughes to Tampa Bay corner Ronde Barber, a third-round pick who emerged to Pro Bowl status while playing in the Buccaneers' Cover-2 scheme, a system that gives slower corners safety help over the top.  "I came away from the Senior Bowl being very impressed," president of NFL Draft Countdown Scott Wright said before making a comparison to Michigan's Leon Hall, who is the consensus pick as the top corner prospect. "Hughes and Hall were on the same team, and they were going back and forth on the practice field, making plays. It was pretty much a wash between who was more impressive."


Monday, April 23, 2007

Marshawn Lynch Joins Nike's 2007 Rookie Class

Here is a link to a site that went live today and features footage of Marshawn Lynch , behind-the-scenes videos, a draft countdown widget, images and a press kit containing the official press release on Lynch’s Nike signing.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sam Mateo Times: Berkeley tree sitter gets high-powered legal aid

San Francisco lawyers join side protesting UC plan for building

BERKELEY — A team of noted San Francisco criminal lawyers has taken on the case of Zachary Running Wolf, one of several environmental activists who have been sitting high up in a grove of oak trees at the University of California, Berkeley in an attempt to block a sports complex the university plans to build on the site.

J. Tony Serra and Omar Figueroa said they have agreed to represent Running Wolf without charge because they feel his purpose is noble. Running Wolf, who started his tree protest with several others on Dec. 2, faces a felony charge of resisting an officer in the performance of his duties and a misdemeanor terrorist charge connected to his refusal to abandon his perch in a California live oak.

Read the entire article here.  Feel free to post comments on the site as well!


WBAY TV Greenbay: Packers Check Out Lynch, Lynch Checks Out Green Bay

Cal running back Marshawn Lynch is visiting Green Bay this week. He could be a perfect fit for a team in need of an every-down running back. Lynch is regarded as the second-best back in the draft behind Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, but he is certainly NFL-ready after playing in Cal's pro-style defense. "I think Coach Tedford's offense does give me an advantage. I would have to learn the terminology, and I am comfortable in the offense. I can run inside and outside. I can catch the ball out of the backfield or you can line me up in the slot," Lynch said.  And we're not the only ones who think Lynch would fit in on the Frozen Tundra. "The guys I have been working out with in Arizona have been kidding me, telling me to get my earmuffs and gloves and a big coat because I'm going to Green Bay."


USA Today: Marshawn Lynch: A 'mama's boy' ready for the NFL

By Chris Colston, USA TODAY

University of California running back Marshawn Lynch looks like many of today's stylish athletes: sculpted body, braids, fashionable dental grille. But to truly understand him, according to teammate Justin Forsett, you must see him from behind, shirtless.  There, across his shoulders, the tattooed words stretch from shoulder blade to shoulder blade: "Mama's Boy." "Oh, he's definitely a mama's boy," Forsett says. "They're like friends, as well as being mother and son." Says Lynch: "That's what I am. I'm a mama's boy at heart. I ain't afraid to show it." When Lynch's mother, Delisa, first saw the ink, she had mixed emotions. "Oh, baby, I bet that hurt," she said. "But … it's so beautiful!"

Any NFL team drafting Lynch will get a package deal: son and mother. Wherever Marshawn goes — the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers are two possible destinations — he's taking Delisa with him. And he's buying her a house. "It will be the first thing I do," he says. Marshawn's relationship with Delisa is not only well-known to teammates but to the community where he grew up.  While Marshawn was waiting to attend his sister's high school graduation in North Oakland, a gunman fired on his car, but the bullets missed him. About 20 minutes later, Delisa got a phone call saying the shooting was a mistake; the bullets weren't meant for her son, and she received an apology.

"I don't think the call came from the actual people involved but somebody who knew them," Delisa says. "They wanted me to know the shooting was not intended for Marshawn."  Growing up in North Oakland, Lynch relied on his mother for shelter, food, support and love. "My mom raised me by herself with no help, basically," he says. "She worked three jobs for me, and it's not just what she did for me but (for) my older brother and my two younger siblings.  "She made it to each and every one of our games. That was kind of hard, because I'm playing, my little brother had a game and, probably later that night, my sister might have a basketball game. And she would still manage to go and be able to feed us and clothe us and pay the bills. She's just my Superwoman."

Delisa admits raising Marshawn and his siblings, David, 27, Marreesha, 18, and Davonte (nicknamed "Boo Boo"), 13, was never easy. She still works full time as a maintenance administrator for AT&T and says the company was very understanding of her situation. She also relied on the Wallace W. Knox branch of the Oakland Boys and Girls Club for support. "That was so important," she says, "because I knew where they were while I was at work." She hopes to continue working, even as she and Boo Boo — a promising player himself — help Marshawn acclimate to his new quarters — wherever they might be.  "AT&T has offices all over the country," she says. "I really don't want to quit. I might take a leave of absence for six months. It depends on what Marshawn wants me to do." Lynch is expected to be the second back taken in the draft, behind Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson.

"He's as talented as any offensive player I've been around," says Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who has coached many NFL first-rounders, including Aaron Rodgers, Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington and Kyle Boller. "He's so natural in doing it all. He's fast, strong, has great balance; he can catch; and he has a great feel for the game in all phases. He's so natural and explosive as an athlete."  Lynch closed out his high school career as Oakland Tech's first three-time all-league, first-team selection. His senior year, the San Francisco Chronicle named him its East Bay player of the year. Rated among the country's elite prospects, he earned a scholarship to Cal, where he became the school's No. 2 all-time rusher. He battled sprained ankles and a sore back last season as a junior — yet he led the Pacific-10 in rushing (104.3 yards a game) and all-purpose yards (137.3) and scored 15 touchdowns, earning conference offensive player of the year honors.

Despite those impressive numbers, perhaps Lynch's most memorable play of 2006 occurred when he commandeered a golf cart after an overtime win against Washington. Before the game, Huskies players did calisthenics on the Cal midfield logo, incurring Lynch's wrath. "He was so into that game," Tedford says. "So when he saw the keys in the golf cart, he thought he'd go pick up (linebacker) Desmond Bishop, who had sealed the win with an interception. When Lynch couldn't find Desmond, he just celebrated with the fans. "That's Marshawn — fun-loving. He was a very popular guy on our team." The golf-cart stunt surprised those who knew Lynch, because he abhors calling attention to himself. Before the season, when the Cal sports information department planned to promote Lynch on a computer mousepad, he balked.

"I don't like it," he said.  "Why not?" assistant media relations director John Sudsbury asked.  After some back-and-forth, he pulled it out of Lynch: He didn't want the school to distribute anything featuring his image.  But Sudsbury gave it one more shot. "What can we do instead?" he asked. "If you put my teammates on it," Lynch said, "that might be OK." There wasn't enough room on the mousepad for everybody, so Sudsbury asked, "How about the three tailbacks?"

Lynch said it was fine — then immediately went to find teammates Forsett and Marcus O'Keith for their approval. The Golden Bears ended up producing a mousepad called "Tailback Triple Threat." "He doesn't want to be in the limelight," Forsett says. "Thinking of us like that made us feel special. It showed he really cared about us. But that's the way he is. He's a humble guy and makes you feel like you're important, even if you're a fifth-stringer. He's somebody you can say is your true brother." Those close to Lynch vouch for his character, which came into question in January.  A woman claiming to be Lynch's ex-girlfriend accused him of domestic and sexual assault. But charges were never filed, and prosecutors cited a lack of evidence and inconsistencies in the accuser's allegations.  "I was innocent," Lynch says, "and we got that taken care of."

Tedford thinks the incident was a learning situation for Lynch. "As you grow in the public eye, you just never know what people will say or do or what their motives are," he says. "It boggles my mind, people who are motivated to say things that aren't true." Delisa characterizes her son as "a gentle giant." But she does have one complaint: his preference for that cosmetic dental apparatus. "I think people get the wrong impression," she says. "They see that and automatically think 'thug.'  "You know how kids go through their little fads. But his real teeth are beautiful! They took a picture of him from the (NFL scouting) combine without his grille, and I put that on my phone as a screen saver. I told him, 'Marshawn, look at this great picture of you without that grille in your mouth!'  "I guarantee you, Boo Boo will not be allowed to wear one of those."



Tuesday, April 17, 2007 debuts National Top 100 for Class of 2008

It is mid-April and time for the first edition of the National Top 100. Who is rated as the top prospect in the land? Quarterback Terrelle Pryor (Jeanette, Pa.), running back Darrell Scott (Ventura, Calif.), wide receivers Julio Jones (Foley, Ala.) and A.J. Green (Summerville, S.C.), offensive tackle Matt Kalil (Anaheim, Calif.), safety Will Hill (Jersey City, N.J.), and linebacker Jon Major (Parker, Co.) were all considered for top prospect honors. But that distinction goes to linebacker Arthur Brown from Wichita (Ks.) East High School.  To view the National Top 100 for the Class of 2008 click here:


Daily Cal: Down But Not Out: Kevin Riley Looks to Overcome Injury and Climb the Bears Quarterback Depth Chart

BY Gerald Nicdao

Redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Riley stood about 20 yards behind junior Nate Longshore.  Riley didn’t have his red “untouchable” shirt on. Instead it was in his back pocket. Instead of a helmet, Riley was wearing a headset. And taking the place of the football was a game chart—a list of all the plays that the Cal football team was going to run through that day.  Coach Jeff Tedford was also standing with him, periodically asking Riley what reads he saw and how he would go about attacking the particular defense that’s on the field.  That’s the way Riley spent the final practice of spring ball.   After Longshore’s reps were in, it was sophomore Kyle Reed’s turn. Following Reed, junior Bryan Van Meter ran the offense. And after Van Meter, sophomore Cory Smits took some plays under center.

The only quarterback not to see action was Riley, who broke the index finger on his throwing hand and had to sit out the final week of spring practice.  “I was bummed out. I wanted to be out there,” says Riley. “I just have to do therapy as best I can so I can get out there as fast as I can. There’s nothing that I can do about it, so I tried not to have a bad attitude about it.”  Missing the last week of spring practice was a disappointment for Riley. This spring was the first time Riley was able to be fully immersed in the Bears’ offensive schemes. As a redshirt last fall, Riley got close to no reps with the Cal offense. Instead, he ran the scout team offense, learning the intricacies of opponents’ schemes and playing them against the first or second team defense in practice.  “It’s always difficult being a redshirt, because you’re behind a few guys and you’re only getting reps in fall camp,” says quarterbacks coach Kevin Daft. “Once the season starts, you’re running the scout team more than anything. So it’s tough because you’re running someone else’s offense and you don’t get to learn our stuff as much.”

But Riley was still able to take a few things out of being a redshirt in the fall. He says being on the scout team enabled him to adjust to the speed of the collegiate game.

Riley was also able to learn aspects of Tedford’s pro-style offense. All of this enabled him to have a productive spring before he broke his finger.   “He did real nice job taking the board work and transferring it onto the field,” says Tedford. “He was picking up the offense well and throwing the ball well. It’s too bad that he had to miss the final week of spring ball.”  It should be to no one’s surprise that Riley has been able to grasp Tedford’s offense so quickly.  The Portland, Ore., native was rated the No. 1 prospect coming out of Oregon by both SuperPrep Magazine and He was the 2005 Gatorade Player of the Year in Oregon. He also threw 55 touchdowns his final two years at Beaverton High.  These are gaudy resume builders for someone who chose to take on an initial backup role for the Bears, instead of signing with either Oregon or Oregon State.

In addition to Longshore, quarterbacks Steve Levy and Joe Ayoob were slated to be ahead of Riley on the depth chart even before he signed with Cal.  Riley said he knew he was not going to get much playing time his first year, but that it didn’t deter him from committing to the Bears.  “Anywhere you go there’s going to be competition,” says Riley. “Any quarterback who is going to be a good player is going to have the confidence in himself that he’s going to start at any school. If you don’t think that, you’re not going to play.”  It’s that competition that Riley says he lives for.  With Levy and Ayoob both leaving the team due to graduation, there is now an open spot for the backup quarterback position behind Longshore.  For most of the spring, Riley battled Reed for that spot until both were injured the last week of practice.

“It’s always good to have competition,” says Riley. “It makes you work harder, study harder. You just want to keep on doing everything that makes you better than the other player.”  Even with how much he has learned over the spring, Riley says he knows that there is still room for improvement.  “Last year I knew that I wasn’t ready to play,” says Riley. “That’s why this spring was such a big deal for me, just trying to get the playbook in my head.”  Riley will rely on that confidence when fall practice begins and his battle with Reed to be Cal’s No. 2 gunslinger heats up.  The summer should give Riley, who will be out for three months, enough time for his finger to heal and to resume preparation.  “Both of them will start over again in fall camp,” says Tedford. “Both had pretty much the same amount of practice since Kyle got hurt a day after Kevin got hurt. They’re fairly equal. They’re both still young enough where they’re still learning.”

Sunday, April 15, 2007

SF Chronicle: As spring drills end, offense gets flak from Tedford

Rusty Simmons

Cal coach Jeff Tedford sent a lasting message Saturday that should motivate the offensive players for the four months between the final spring practice and the fall training camp.  "It was a pretty poor day offensively," he said. "We're nowhere close to where we need to be right now."  The Bears return eight starters from an offense that averaged 32.8 points and 415.6 yards a game last season. Added to the starters (three play-making receivers, quarterback Nate Longshore, tight end Craig Stevens and three offensive linemen), Justin Forsett, whose 6.39 yards a carry is the best in the nation among returnees, will be promoted from his backup role.  "With all of the guys we have coming back on offense, we should have looked a lot better than we did," said receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who had two catches for 51 yards. "We're going to go into the summer and get rid of all of the little mistakes before camp."

They're being a little tough on themselves.  Longshore was 9-of-13 for 130 yards and two touchdowns during 11-on-11s, and he connected with Stevens for a score during the red-zone drill. DeSean Jackson had two catches for 49 yards, including a receiver screen that he turned into a 30-yard touchdown.  Tedford admitted that some of his frustration was with the second and third units.  Tailback tandem: Tedford said he has no doubt that Forsett can handle the load of an every-down back, but he's also confident that redshirt freshman James Montgomery has emerged into something more than a solid backup.  "It's nice to see that James Montgomery is a real player," Tedford said. "We expected it, but we know that we have some depth at tailback."  Montgomery had a couple of impressive runs. Working with the first unit, he ran over defensive back Marcus Ezeff on a 9-yard run that set up his short touchdown dive two plays later. He also broke a 30-yard touchdown scamper with a quick cutback as part of the second team offense.

Put me in coach: With Tracy Slocum (hamstring) and Bryan Schutte (concussion) out, Hawkins got some snaps at tailback. Although he needed only three carries to rack up 30 yards and a score, Tedford said he isn't a serious contender at the position.  "That was just to pacify him," Tedford said.  Hawkins is noted for consistently chirping about his big-play capabilities.  "I'm always in the coaches' ears about playing running back, corner, safety and quarterback," he said. "If it's possible, I want to play everything; I want to play guard if I can."  What's your line? Tedford singled out guard Brian De La Puente and interior lineman Chris Guarnero as having stepped up in the spring, but he didn't rule out the possibility of moving all-conference center Alex Mack to tackle as the team tries to replace Andrew Cameron and Erik Robertson.

Mack "does a good job out there," Tedford said. "It's not a longshot that he could play there, and it helps that our other centers are good players."  Guarnero and Mark Gray are the reserve centers, and Tedford said Gibson, an all-conference right tackle, will move to the left side, leaving Mike Tepper as the front-runner at right tackle. Briefly: Brandon Hampton and Brandon Jones each had about 70-yard punt returns for touchdowns. ... After being run over by fullback Brian Holley, redshirt freshman cornerback Darian Hagan, who worked with the No. 1 defense, bounced back with a strong tackle and a pass breakup on the next two plays.


Oakland Tribune: Cal likes look of young corners

Hampton, Jones return punts for TDs in final spring scrimmage

By Jonathan Okanes

BERKELEY — If spring practice taught Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory one thing, it's that the cupboard isn't bare in the program's efforts to replace All-American cornerback Daymeion Hughes. It's just a matter of organizing the cupboard the right way.   While Hughes has been busy preparing for the NFL draft, the Bears have been busy taking a look at his potential replacements. In freshman Darian Hagan and Charles Amadi and senior Brandon Hampton, Cal feels as if it's prepared to move on without last season's Pacific-10 Conference defensive player of the year.  "We're young and inexperienced, but I feel like we have a lot of depth," Gregory said. "They have a lot of ability, but they are still learning. They just need to continue to work out and stay into it, and then you'll see them continue to make those improvements."

The Bears held their final spring practice Saturday, one that consisted mostly of scrimmaging in different game situations.  While sophomore Syd'Quan Thompson is a lock at one corner after starting every game last season, the position that Hughes left vacant was one of Cal's biggest issues when spring practice began March 12.  Hagan played with the first unit Saturday, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be the starter when Cal opens the season against Tennessee on Sept. 1. The Bears didn't get much of a look at Amadi because he suffered a groin injury during the first week of practice. And although Hampton is a senior, he is making the switch from rover, where he was a starter last season.  "It's still up in the air," Gregory said. "It's different if they were defensive tackles, and they give up a first down if they make a mistake. If (a defensive back makes mistakes), I'm out of a job, and you're talking to someone else next year."

The offensive line, moving on without the departed Andrew Cameron and Erik Robertson, was one of Cal's other major question marks.  Center Alex Mack, tackle Mike Gibson and guard Noris Malele should be starters (Gibson and Malele missed spring practice with injuries). Junior Mike Tepper started Saturday at left tackle and is a good bet to remain with the first unit. And head coach Jeff Tedford singled out the strong spring by guard Brian De La Puente.  Some of the highlights of Saturday's practice, which was open to the public and drew a couple of thousand fans, included back-to-back punt returns for touchdowns by Hampton and Brandon Jones. Receiver Lavelle Hawkins lined up at tailback for a few plays late in the practice and somersaulted into the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run.  "You know that was just for looks," Hawkins said. "I've always wanted to try that. I'm always in (Tedford's) ear about running back, quarterback. I'll play guard if I can."  So does that mean Hawkins actually may see time at tailback during the season?

"That was just to pacify Lavelle," Tedford said.  Tedford said that he was disappointed with Saturday's performance by Cal's experienced and explosive offense but that the unit played well "on and off" during the spring.  The Bears didn't run the ball particularly well Saturday, but quarterback Nate Longshore was 9-for-13 for 130 yards and three touchdowns.  The Bears now will shift into offseason workout mode before fall camp begins in early August. With many of their key players returning from a team that shared the Pac-10 title last season and finished ranked No.14 in the nation by the Associated Press, expectations will be high when the season begins.  "I wish we could start fall camp tomorrow," Hawkins said. "We have so many athletes on our team; we should never have lost last year."  

Saturday, April 14, 2007

LA Times: Sizing up the tax brackets

By Chris Foster, Times Staff Writer

The April 16 income tax deadline is upon us, leading to this burning question: Who is the highest-paid employee in the University of California system? The San Francisco Chronicle had the answer, running with the top 10 of who gathers the most "total compensation." A sample from that silver platter:

No. 10 — Dr. Kahlil W. Tabsh, UCLA. Widely recognized a leader in maternal fetal medicine, specializing in taking care of high-risk patients.

No. 3 — Dr. Ronald Busuttil, UCLA. Established UCLA's liver transplant program, one of the largest and most respected in the world.

No. 1 — Football Coach Jeff Tedford, California. Cured post-holiday depression in the Bay Area by finally beating a Texas team in the Holiday Bowl. Now working on a cure for the dreaded Lost-Again-to-USC syndrome.

Friday, April 13, 2007

SF Chronicle: Cal needs DB to fill big shoes

Rusty Simmons

Cal defensive backs coach R. Todd Littlejohn had to replace three of the four starting defensive backs last season, but replacing one spot this year is proving just as difficult.  "I keep thinking, 'We've already been through this,' " he said. "But we haven't been through this."  This time, he's responsible for filling the void left by the graduation of All-America cornerback Daymeion Hughes, and with two practices remaining on the spring schedule, no one has emerged.  "It's still a smorgasbord of guys," Littlejohn said. "I think we would like to have had a little clearer picture, but it hasn't quite happened yet. Maybe Saturday will show us a little more, but if not, we'll start all over and see who wants it.  Saturday won't offer a Spring Game, but it will be the last practice and present the final chance at an enduring impression between now and August.  Among the locks in the secondary are returning safeties Thomas DeCoud, who is considered a top NFL draft prospect at his position for 2008, and hard-hitting safety Bernard Hicks, who has missed a lot of the spring with a jammed knee. Freshman All-America corner Syd'Quan Thompson will hold down one corner spot, but the other is being chased by a handful of players with great potential.

The top two candidates at this point may be redshirt freshmen Darian Hagan, who is drawing rave reviews, and Charles Amadi, who combined a track injury (ankle) with a football injury (groin) and hasn't done much since sparkling on the first day of spring ball. Hagan is a wiry, rangy corner who appears to have a knack for the position's intricacies, like breaking on the ball, and Amadi is an enigma who simply hasn't had enough time on the field.  That's a similar problem with the rest of the group. Brandon Hampton, a returning starter at rover who is working out at corner, and Bishop O'Dowd High alum Jesse Brooks simply haven't been healthy enough to prove themselves on a day-to-day basis.  "We've been stressing to the guys the importance of that position, and no one is being appointed; someone will earn the position," Littlejohn said. "That spot was vacated by someone who had it most of his career, and someone will step up at some point and the returnees will rally around that guy."  That guy could also be a newcomer. Recruits Chris Conte, from Loyola High in Los Angeles, and Sean Cattouse, from Hubbard High in Chicago, both will show up in August to provide 3- to 4-star ability and 6-foot-3 frames that could be beneficial across from 5-10 Thompson, who believes he's ready to match Hughes' shut-down capabilities.

"I think about replacing (Hughes) almost every day," he said. "It's a big role to step into, because he dominated last year. I feel like I have to do better than what he did, and I'm looking forward to that challenge."  Quarterback queries: Head coach Jeff Tedford said quarterback Nate Longshore has been solid during spring drills and compared him to "a coach on the field," but questions abound regarding the No. 2 spot. Kyle Reed and Kevin Riley were both impressive before going down last week.

Riley, a redshirt freshman, shattered his index finger and will miss about three months after hitting his throwing hand on another hand Friday. Reed, a sophomore, sprained his throwing shoulder Saturday after getting hit in a scrimmage.  "The two young quarterbacks looked very good and were really coming along," Tedford said. "They've both shown the ability to take it off the board and translate it on the field. That doesn't happen always with young guys, so I've been really impressed."  Walking the line: The offensive line, missing injured starters Mike Gibson and Noris Malele, has started to shape up. Tackle Mike Tepper and guard Brian De La Puente appear to be the leaders for the spots opened by the graduations of Andrew Cameron and Erik Robertson, but there are plenty of guys who are taking advantage of the extra repetitions.   High hopes remain for injured Kevin Bemoll and redshirt freshman Chris Guarnero on the interior, walk-on Mark Boskovich has impressed, and, according to Tedford, tackle Chet Teofilo, a converted defensive lineman, has stolen the show after finally grasping offensive line play.

"He's really made some nice strides," Tedford said. "I kind of expected it because he's so athletic and he's so big and physical. He's done a really nice job now that he's got it figured out."  

Park at your own risk: The final practice of the spring at 2 p.m. Saturday is open to the public and free, but parking will be $15 because of an event at the Greek Theatre. The practice will involve the team conducting its usual training sessions, including usually scheduled 11-on-11 drills, but there won't be a full scrimmage.  

Ticket ticker: Single-game tickets for the 2007 season will be available to the general public July 15 at a maximum of 10 tickets a game. There is no limit on the number of tickets that can be purchased by season-ticket holders or donors, except for the Big Game at Stanford on Dec. 1. Among the six home games, the top features are the season-opener against Tennessee on Sept. 1 and the visit by Pac-10 favorite USC on Nov. 10.

Daily Cal: Patiently Waiting - Coming off the Bench For Another Year Only Adds Motivation For Sophomore Kyle Reed

BY Brian Bainum

Plopping himself down on the wooden bleachers at Memorial Stadium, Kyle Reed finally has a chance to catch his breath. Having just completed a series of extra sprints while the rest of the Cal football team was ambling off the field and up into the locker room, Reed quickly sheds the red “untouchable” jersey he had been wearing due to his recently sprained right shoulder.  “Hey, put that jersey back on!” shouts teammate Lavelle Hawkins playfully from across the field, looking at the jersey lying in a heap at the young quarterback’s feet.  “Naw man, I can’t be wearing this,” counters Reed with a grin.   In reality, Reed will have to wear the hated red for the rest of spring practice. He will have to watch from the sidelines as his fellow quarterbacks take the reps. He will have to store away information without physically doing it.  “That’s what sucks about it,” says Reed. “I’ll miss the last week of spring ball.”

It’s not that the injury is anything to worry about—Reed expects to be healthy in two weeks. And it’s not as if Reed’s bum shoulder will set him back in the fall—up until the injury Saturday, the sophomore from Oakland had registered his most impressive spring in a Bears uniform.  Nevertheless, being on the sidelines, even if temporarily, has been an all-too-familiar occurrence for Reed in his first two years in Jeff Tedford’s quarterback fold.  He redshirted his freshman year and played on the practice squad on last season’s 10-2 team. Now, he appears to be locked in a battle with redshirt freshman Kevin Riley for the No. 2 quarterback position behind Nate Longshore.  “Coming into the spring, I had a chip on my shoulder,” says Reed. “I wanted to really let people know I had the offense under my belt and that I am ready for the next challenge. I worked really hard with Coach (Kevin) Daft and it’s all helped me out.”  That was the knock on Reed earlier in his career—he was clearly talented, but still did not grasp the intricacies of Tedford’s complex playbook. Now, it seems there is tangible progress being made.  “Spring is a chance for him to get a lot of reps,” says Tedford. “There is a lot of learning going on with that, and he’s made a lot of strides.”  Take last week for example. When Longshore missed a practice, Reed stepped in with the first team and displayed some of the talent that made him one of the top prospects in Northern California coming out of McClymonds High. He threw darts all around the field, hitting DeSean Jackson, Robert Jordan and Hawkins on long and short routes.

“Overall he’s doing really well right now,” says Jordan. “I’m proud of him. He’s accepted his role as the backup quarterback, and he said his only job right now is to push Nate and to make both of them better players. As long as Kyle continues to do what he says and get better, the offense is going to be rolling.”  The backup role was not an easy one for Reed to accept, at least not initially. He says he was confused when told to take “mental reps,” by watching from the sidelines, and then be expected to know each play by heart.  “I had to humble myself and be mature and understand that this was a process,” says Reed. “Of course it was frustrating to sit out and watch and be told to take mental reps, because you’re like, ‘What the (hell) is a mental rep?’ But in actuality, it comes together and it actually works. It’s just a matter of humbling yourself and being able to adapt.”  If Reed were frustrated on the inside, it didn’t show, at least not to Tedford.  “He did a great job of keeping his head in the game and making sure he stayed focused,” Tedford said. “It comes with experience.”  And patience, too.  Despite the frustrating times on the practice squad last season, Reed says he never considered transferring to another program where he might have had a better chance to play sooner.

“Coach Tedford has always let me know where I stand,” says Reed. “He’s always told me if I get this, this and this done, I’ll be this, this and this.”  At this point in his career, the “this” appears to be the ability to put into practical use all of the playbook study and chalk talk preparation he has undergone with Daft, the new quarterbacks coach.  In spurts, everything seems to be clicking for Reed. At other times, he still appears tentative. However, the former is becoming more common than the latter as of late.  As the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder walks off the practice field, he wears a face of maturity that rarely shows emotion and gives him the look of a veteran, except for the rare moments when he’ll break into a smile and flash braces that underscore his relative youth.  And why not smile? With only two years down of what could be potentially a five-year career, Reed sees himself as progressing just fine.  “It’s all coming together,” he says. “A few minor mistakes here and there, but it’s really starting to come together and translate on the field.”

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sporting News: Ranking the Pac-10 Coaches

Read the entire article here.

4. Jeff Tedford, Cal. A brilliant offensive mind, it's hard to remember when the Golden Bears were lousy. And Tedford never gets enough credit for his recruiting acumen. My worry? He's gonna bolt for the NFL if facility improvements aren't done. That would kill this program.

SF Chronicle: Everything coming up roses for Cal football

Rusty Simmons

The Cal football players couldn't help but be a little stunned.   They starred at each other for what seemed like an eternity before finally believing what they had just heard. Coach Jeff Tedford had pulled the ultimate oddity Friday, ending practice early.  With a week left in the spring schedule, the Bears have earned a 2 1/2-minute break here and there, because everything is working its way into place.  The offense, which returns eight starters from a unit that averaged 415.6 yards and 32.8 points a game, looks sharp. Quarterback Nate Longshore appears poised to better his 3,021-yard, 24-touchdown performance of a year ago, and tailback Justin Forsett, whose 6.39 yards a carry average is tops among the nation's returning backs, is excited to carry the load.

With the full stable of receiving threats returning, the only questions for the offense come along the offensive line, which is secured by Alex Mack but has to replace tackle Andrew Cameron and guard Erik Robertson. Starters Mike Gibson and Noris Malele have missed most of the spring drills with injuries, giving more repetitions for the youngsters to fight for the two open spots. Mike Tepper and Brian De La Puente are the front-runners, but there is a heavy push coming from a variety of guys, who are led by Chris Guarnero.  As peachy as the offensive projections are, the defense also is well on its way to filling its voids. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, linebacker Desmond Bishop and cornerback Daymeion Hughes will be drafted in three weeks, but the replacements are emerging.   "Of course, we're excited," defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. "Every one is playing hard. It's just a matter of putting it all together and understanding the scheme."  They've got the players to do just that.

Redshirt freshman Derrick Hill has returned after last year's lingering knee injury and is evolving into a potential star. Hill and Mika Kane will battle for the defensive tackle spot alongside anchor Matt Malele.  "When you lose a player like Brandon Mebane, the whole group has to step up," Gregory said. "Nothing against defensive linemen, but replacing a corner is the most important because that position can give up a lot."  Cal has no choice but to throw someone into the fire at the corner spot across from Syd'Quan Thompson. Brandon Hampton, last season's starting rover, Darian Hagan, Charles Amadi, Jesse Brooks and Robert Peele, who has shown vast improvement, are fighting for the starting spot.  "We've got to find the right guy," Gregory said. "Any of those players can be the guy if they step up and take charge."  The linebackers already got that message.   On top of returning starters Worrell Williams and Justin Moye, the Bears return Zack Follett, who was an all-conference player despite not starting, and Anthony Felder, who was a freshman All-American two years ago. Gregory said Eddie Young may have made more strides than any player regardless of position, and Greg Van Hoesen is in the mix with Williams and Follett to replace middle backer Bishop, the conference's leading tackler.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Daily Cal: Veteran Special Teams Unit Key to Success

BY Jon Doss

Growing up in Walnut Creek, Calif., Tom Schneider may never have wanted to think of himself as a special teams expert.  Often associated with the most fragile members of pop-warner squads, special teams used to be where coaches sent kids to get their minimum four plays a game.  But Schneider hasn’t played pee-wee football in a long time.  Now recognized as one of the top place-kickers in the Pac-10, the senior will play an integral role in what looks to be one of the Cal football team’s most veteran and most impressive special teams units in recent memory.  “I feel like we have really good continuity. We’ve got a lot of the same guys, some really talented guys, coming back this year,” Schneider said. “We’ve got the potential to do a lot of good things special team wise this year.”

Schneider, who was third in the conference in scoring (7.5 points per game) last year, is just a taste of the experience the Bears will bring back in the fall.  Punter Andrew Larson will come back for his senior campaign as the most critical component of a Cal punt team that ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 a year ago.  The Bears held opponents to just 2.7 yards per punt return, tops in the conference, while netting a league-best 38.3 yards per punt.  “Going into it last year, we didn’t really know what our punting situation was going to be,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “So we feel pretty solid right now that we’ve got that type of experience.”  An often overlooked aspect to the success of the special teams unit is the long-snapper, but the Bears’ Nick Sundberg has made a name for himself.  The junior out of Phoenix was a starter as a true freshman two years ago, while developing into what Schneider thinks is one of the best long-snapping talents in the country.

“I’ve seen a lot of film on other guys in the Pac-10 and the SEC, and I’d be surprised if you could find a better snapper out there than (Sundberg).” Schneider said. “He’s so vital—he’s the heartbeat of this unit. He may be one of the most overlooked players in the country.”  If Sundberg is the heartbeat of Cal’s kicking game, then likewise, DeSean Jackson is the soul of the Bears’ return game.  Jackson, an All-American, led the Pac-10 in average yards per punt return (17.5) and punt returns for touchdowns (4) last season, and will be arguably the country’s top return man this season.  But while Jackson’s highlight reel game-breakers garner him the national hype, it’s the field position that he and the rest of the return unit give Cal’s offense that may be most important attributing to the Bears’ conference-leading 32.8 ppg.   “The return team as a whole has a great scheme and they really get the job done,” junior quarterback Nate Longshore said. “They start us with great field position, and anytime you can work with a short field, it’s an advantage. It’s an added bit of confidence knowing they can get us that much closer.”

Seattle Post Intelligencer: Pac-10 football loaded for '07


Read the entire article here.


IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL, USC is here.  And everyone else is here. Or here -- stuck at varying degrees below the Trojans.


Meanwhile, California's Nate Longshore figures to hang up huge numbers with perhaps the best receiving corps in the nation. He could join Booty as a Heisman candidate, particularly if the Bears reap vengeance against visiting Tennessee on Sept. 1, or he could help turn receiver DeSean Jackson into one.


At Cal, spread guru Mike Dunbar bolted for Minnesota after one season. Offensive line coach Jim Michalczik was promoted to coordinator, but head coach Jeff Tedford will call the plays, as he did his first four seasons in Berkeley.

The runaround: Cal's Marshawn Lynch, who led the Pac-10 in rushing a year ago, entered the NFL draft a year early, but he and Arizona's underachieving Chris Henry are the only two of the conference's top-10 runners who aren't back.




1. USC: Loaded Trojans will be preseason No. 1


2. CALIFORNIA: Dynamic offense, holes on defense


3. UCLA: Just about everyone back from team that beat USC


4. OREGON STATE: QB only big question for Beavers


5. ARIZONA: If the new spread offense works, Wildcats go bowling


6. OREGON: Will Dixon bounce back? Can Stewart stay healthy? And the D?


7. ARIZONA STATE: Talent, schedule here for fast turnaround under Erickson.


8. WASHINGTON STATE: QB Brink leads solid offense; big questions on defense


9. WASHINGTON: Does the Locker Era (and UW rebirth) begin?


10. STANFORD: New coach Jim Harbaugh has huge rebuilding project




2006: 10-3, 7-2 Pac-10




STARTERS BACK: 8 offense, 5 defense, 2 specialists


SPRING ISSUE: The Bears have dynamic talent on offense, but the defense has been gutted of star power, with the loss of cornerback Daymeion Hughes and five of the 2006 front seven.