Saturday, September 22, 2007

SF Chronicle: Bear flag dilemma

Rusty Simmons

Here is the link.

Seemingly every Cal coach and player has a different idea as to why the offense has had its share of stalls and the defense has yielded its share of scoring drives.  Quarterback Nate Longshore says he's missing open receivers. The receivers claim they're running the wrong routes.  Middle linebacker Worrell Williams says the bevy of offensive schemes they have faced is tough. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory says the unit is on the field too much. Here's the middle ground: They all agree that penalties are getting in the way of that true statement game. Even in its 45-27 win over Arizona on Saturday, Cal was penalized 14 times for 121 yards. Both are record-worsts during coach Jeff Tedford's tenure.  "Yeah, I'm concerned about it," Tedford said. The Bears have been penalized 35 times for 287 yards in four games this season. Last year, they averaged 49.3 penalty yards a game. "We've got to fix that," Williams said. "Now."  The silver lining is that few of the penalties were of the execution variety this week. "A couple of them were poor judgments when guys were trying to make plays," Tedford said, "and, on some of them, I didn't agree with the calls."  

MASH unit: Without three starters, Cal's defense didn't have a letdown. Defensive tackle Matt Malele (foot), defensive end Rulon Davis (foot) and linebacker Zack Follett (neck) were replaced by Cody Jones, Tad Smith and Justin Moye, respectively.  Jones and Smith each had a pair of tackles and consistently got good pressure on Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama. Mika Kane (five tackles) and Derrick Hill (one sack) each filled in along the defensive front, too.  Moye had four tackles, and reserve linebackers Eddie Young and Michael Mohamed combined for five more. 

No Heisman highlights: For the second consecutive week, receiver/returner extraordinaire DeSean Jackson was held without a touchdown. He scored 23 times in his first 26 games, and his Heisman campaign could have used a highlight against All-America cornerback Antoine Cason.  Jackson had three catches for 39 yards and had minus-1 yard on his lone punt return. Surprisingly, Jackson wasn't covered by Cason too often. Instead, the Wildcats used their lockdown guy on the other side and kept two defenders on Jackson for most of the game.  "He's a good player, so I thought he would be on me a little bit more," Jackson said. "It's not necessarily frustrating. I know what I'm capable of doing, and teams are focusing on taking that away."

Briefly: Cal has won five consecutive Pac-10 openers. ... The Bears have scored more than 40 points in 14 of their last 23 home games. ... Receiver Robert Jordan has at least one catch in 34 consecutive games and is two off the school's all-time record, which was set by Brian Treggs (1988-91). ... Safety Thomas DeCoud, Jones, center Alex Mack and tight end Craig Stevens were this week's captains. ... Fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou appeared to re-injure his sprained left MCL in the fourth quarter, but he returned to throw the lead block on Justin Forsett's game-clinching 3-yard touchdown run.


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