Monday, November 30, 2009

DeSean Jackson Sustains Concussion


Two weeks after the star running back suffered his second concussion of the season, the Eagles' star wide receiver suffered his first. DeSean Jackson was knocked out of yesterday's 27-24 victory against Washington in the third quarter after he caught a 6-yard pass over the middle. Washington cornerback Justin Tryon was in on the tackle and Jackson remained on the field for several moments. He walked off the field under his own power but did not return.  "He was just a little groggy," Eagles coach Andy Reid said, "but he was able to get up and get off the field and all that fairly quick."

SF Chronicle: Forsett no longer the understudy


Though he put up some great numbers for Cal, Justin Forsett spent much of his college career watching Marshawn Lynch get the ball. Now, getting a chance with the Seahawks while starter Julius Jones recovers from a bruised lung, Forsett is making a name for himself. In Seattle's 27-17 victory at St. Louis on Sunday, Forsett set career highs with 130 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 5.9 yards on 22 carries, scored for the third straight week and topped his previous best of 123 yards, set two weeks ago at Arizona. For the season, Forsett (a seventh-round pick in 2008), has 385 yards and a 5.7-yard average. Jones (second round, 2004) has 392 yards and a 3.7-yard average. Lynch? The 2007 first-rounder had just three carries Sunday and has run for 278 yards in his suspension-shortened season for the Bills.

Memorial Stadium Construction Photos

I took these photos on November 29, 2009.  Things appear to be moving along.  Click on each to see the entire photo.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

SF Chronicle: Cignetti Living the Hometown Dream


You leave one job for another - and take a $350,000 pay cut - people are going to surmise that you were pretty miserable at the first place. Nothing could be further from the truth, says Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr., who took that plunge from Cal this past offseason.  "It was a dream opportunity for me, and it's never been about money," said Cignetti Jr., a Pittsburgh native. "Besides, the cost of living difference makes it close. But I love Pittsburgh - it is the greatest city for football in America. The greatest players to ever play college football played here - Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett, Hugh Green, Larry Fitzgerald."

And it has been a dream season for Cignetti Jr., as the Panthers are 9-1 and ranked eighth in the country going into today's 102nd Backyard Brawl at West Virginia (4 p.m., ESPN2). While Pittsburgh's defense leads the nation with 40 sacks, its offense has held its own. With powerful fullback Henry Hynoski leading the way, freshman Dion Lewis is fifth in the country in rushing (129.1 yards per game). Quarterback Bill Stull is fourth in efficiency (159.4 rating). Frank Cignetti Sr., who coached West Virginia from 1976 to 1979, will be making the trek to Morgantown to see the game. Besides Frank Jr., his two daughters live in Pittsburgh and there are 11 grandkids to see.  "The whole family is rooting for Pitt, except for him," Cignetti Jr. said.

Link to rest of article.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oakland Tribune: Injured Cal freshman shows what he can do

Curtis Pashelka

Freshman tailback Dasarte Yarnway participated in full-contact drills with the Cal football team for the first time in more than three months Wednesday. And there wasn't much use in trying to contain his enthusiasm.  "He made a comment that he forgot how fun this is," Bears coach Jeff Tedford said. "It was really good for him."  Yarnway, who was rated the third-best running back in California by coming out of Sacred Heart Cathedral High in San Francisco, had high expectations for the 2009 season before he suffered a torn ligament in his right big toe in mid-August. Instead of risking further damage, he elected to have surgery and was redshirted.

Tedford said Yarnway looked fine in Wednesday's scrimmage with other scout team players, carrying the ball five or six times. Yarnway also practiced in noncontact drills Tuesday.  "It was a good reminder of how it feels," Yarnway said. "After you go through a struggle, it's kind of hard to foresee the future. But at the same time, when you do things like this — get back in the groove with your teammates on the field and in the weight room — it reminds you that you can get up off the ground, have perseverance and make it through."  Yarnway began to work out roughly three weeks ago and felt some discomfort. But he said the most difficult part of the process was staying patient, going through rehabilitation and watching his teammates play without being able to contribute.

Yarnway already has next year's season-opener against UC Davis on Sept. 4 circled on the calendar, and he hopes to be stronger — mentally and physically — than before.  "Now it's all about confidence and continuing to master the playbook," Yarnway said. "I think the future is going to be very bright."  Tedford said tailback Jahvid Best is still nursing a sore back and added there's no timetable for when Best will return to practice. "It's not something that we really discuss. It'll be something when he feels 100 percent ready to go. He'll let us know, and we'll take it from there," Tedford said.

Cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson, who sprained an ankle late in Saturday's game against Stanford, did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday. Tedford said that Thompson was feeling better and should be ready to go next week.

Link to rest of article.

UCLA mascot gets USC paint job ahead of big game

AP reports:

UCLA's bruin mascot has gotten a messy paint job — in the colors of cross-town rival USC.  UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton says the statue in Bruin Square was splashed with red and gold paint sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.  Vandals cut through a protective tarp to vandalize the statue in the middle of the west Los Angeles campus days before Saturday's Bruins-Trojans game.

No arrests were made but campus police are investigating.  Meanwhile, USC students in shifts are guarding their Tommy Trojan statue, which also is under wraps.

San Jose Mercury: Stanford's Jim Harbaugh regrets a couple of play calls vs. Cal

Suddenly, Stanford is out of the Top 25 and needing to beat Notre Dame to put the proper finish on its best football season in eight years.  Those are the effects of losing the Big Game, and Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh still was kicking himself Tuesday, three days later, for two play calls he made in the 34-28 loss to Cal.  The first came on a fourth-and-eight at the Stanford 23 with fewer than four minutes left. Harbaugh's second-guess was not to punt — many think he should have — but to give quarterback Andrew Luck a better play.  "I don't think we gave Andrew a great play for that situation," Harbaugh said Tuesday, referring to the pass that failed. And, with 90 seconds remaining, and Stanford at the Cal 13, Luck threw two passes to the end zone, the second resulting in an interception. Harbaugh wishes he had called another option on first down.  "That is what I am kicking myself about," he said. So Stanford is 7-4 and needing to rebound Saturday in the regular-season finale.

Link to rest of article.

Stanford Daily: Cal tops Stanford in best Big Game in years

(I’m not sure why it took so long for the dandy-lads at the Stanford Daily to get an article out, but here it is.)

Thirteen yards and two minutes away from Big Game immortality, Stanford looked poised to beat the Golden Bears in a thrilling 35-34 victory at a filled-to-capacity Stanford Stadium. But Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed had other plans.  The Bears junior stepped in front of an Andrew Luck pass on second down with just a minute and a half remaining, sending the Cal fan section into a fury and leaving the majority of the 50,000 fans in attendance shellshocked.

“It wasn’t a good enough throw,” said a disappointed Luck after the game. “I wish I had that one back. I could have done a lot of different things.” “We’ve heard a lot of talk about, ‘Oh, they’re going to go to the Rose Bowl,’  Mohamed told media after the game. “We felt like they were overlooking us a little bit. For us to come out and to prove all these guys wrong, it feels good.”

The tough loss overshadowed another stalwart performance from senior running back Toby Gerhart, who rushed for 136 yards and four touchdowns. His 29-yard reception to get the Cardinal down to the 13-yard line was Heisman-esque, as he bulldozed at least three or four Cal defenders through what appeared to be sheer will.

The story of the game wasn’t Gerhart’s performance, however, but that of backup Bears running back Shane Vereen. Replacing the injured Jahvid Best for the second game in a row, Vereen and the Cal offensive controlled the majority of Saturday’s game–the sophomore rushed for 193 yards and three touchdowns on an astounding 42 carries.


Daily Cal: Cal in Position to Finish Second in Conference Thanks to Positive Mentality

Matt Kawahara

With one game left on its regular-season schedule, the Cal football team can still finish this season with 10 wins, in a multi-way tie for second place in the Pac-10 and ranked in the national top 20. Who saw that coming on Oct. 4? That was the Sunday after the Bears lost 30-3 at home to USC. Eight days before, they had lost 42-3 to Oregon on the road. They went into their bye week, having tumbled from No. 6 in the country, surrounded by negativity and questioned repeatedly about the possibility of this being a repeat of the 2007 meltdown.

It hasn't played out that way. Since the bye, Cal has quietly won five of its last six games and is 5-3 in the Pac-10, with only a trip to Washington remaining. The Bears' one loss in that span came against Oregon State on Nov. 7, when tailback Jahvid Best suffered a serious concussion leaping into the end zone in the second quarter and was carted off the field.

"I said it earlier in the season," senior safety Brett Johnson said. "People asked me if we were going to go through the same slump we went through, and I told them we've got a whole new group of people with different mentalities. I knew we were going to come back, knew we were going to bounce back. We just had to come back and focus the next week and we did."

Link to rest of article.


LA Times: For once, Oregon State had a rooting interest in Oregon


Cal-related excerpt:

Cal Coach Jeff Tedford said it has not been determined whether tailback Jahvid Best, who suffered a concussion in a Nov. 7 loss to Oregon State, would play in Cal's regular-season finale against Washington on Dec. 5. Tedford said the issue isn't Best's head, it's the back injury he suffered on his terrifying end zone landing after scoring a touchdown.

ESPN: No decision on Best return



It remains decidedly questionable whether California running back Jahvid Best will play again this season.

Coach Jeff Tedford said Tuesday it will be up to Best to decide whether he feels ready to play again. Best was knocked out when he landed on his head after a short touchdown run in the Bears loss to Oregon State on Oct. 7. The Bears are off this week and conclude their season on Dec. 5 at Washington.

"We really haven't talked about it and probably won't talk about it unless Jahvid is up to it and wants to talk about it," coach Jeff Tedford said. Tedford said that Best's concussion is no longer the issue but that Best's back continues to bother him. Best is a junior and he likely will strongly consider entering the NFL draft this spring, therefore it's possible that his Cal career is over.

Monday, November 23, 2009

SF Chronicle: Tedford Outcoached Harbaugh




Jeff Tedford outcoached Jim Harbaugh on Saturday. Besides the Axe, Cal gets a national ranking (No. 21) by its name again. Number-crunching guru Steve Sanchez said its only the second time in 12 games since 2003 that the Bears have won as an underdog. (The 31-24 win at Oregon in 2007 was the other one.) Cal was 5-5 as an underdog in Tedford's first two seasons.

-- Just like Tedford will always hold Mike Mohamed dear (his interception saved a lot of questions about that taking a knee business minutes earlier), Florida State coach Bobby Bowden owes Maryland punter Nick Ferrara big time. Ferrara couldn't kick it out of bounds like his coach asked, and a big return with two minutes left set up a bowl-clinching and job-saving win for Bowden and the Seminoles.

-- Harbaugh and his play-calling late cost Toby Gerhart the Heisman Trophy. His four touchdowns against Cal and another big game against Notre Dame would have completed a late-season run to the award - just like USC's Carson Palmer in 2002. But four losses and Gerhart's out.


Daily Cal: Players Let Loose After a Tight Game

Jeff Goodman

Syd'Quan Thompson might be the most subdued player on the Cal football team. His words usually come with very little intonation; his emotions are often self-contained. Yet there he was at the center of it all, taking in a 34-28 triumph on the field at Stanford Stadium after the 112th Big Game. It didn't matter that he had suffered a high ankle sprain late in the fourth quarter. It didn't matter that his right foot was trapped in a large black boot. This was the cornerback's final rivalry game with the Bears, and he knew the Axe would last in Berkeley much longer than his injury. Victory, he said, made it all worthwhile. "A random fan asked me if I wanted to be lifted on their shoulders," Thompson said. "I said, 'Sure!'"

Then Thompson shook his long dreadlocks from a perch above and amid the post-game celebration, a moment that embodied what the win meant to Cal. It felt so good because it was so hard-earned. The wear and tear on the players' bodies became unimportant after a match of such historical significance.

Link to rest of article.

LA Times: Riley's Motivation in Big Game


What was his motivation? Cal quarterback Kevin Riley after the Bears' 34-28 win: "Yeah, that's all you've been hearing all week, Stanford's going to the Rose Bowl," Riley said. "They're going to beat us."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ESPN: Pac-10 Helmet Stickers



Shane Vereen, RB, California: Vereen, starting for the injured Jahvid Best for a second time, rushed for 193 yards on 42 carries -- 42 carries! -- with three touchdowns in the Bears' 34-28 Big Game win over Stanford. Last week in a win over Arizona, Vereen rushed for 159 yards.


Jeff Tedford, California: His team was a national punchline after it went from No. 6 in the nation to a 72-6 loser to Oregon and USC on consecutive weekends. But, very quietly, and despite the loss of their star running back the past two games, the 8-3 Bears have crawled back to respectability by winning five of their last six games, the lone loss coming to Oregon State when Best was knocked out on the field.


Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford: The Big Game loss certainly wasn't Gerhart's fault. The Heisman Trophy candidate scored four touchdowns -- he now leads the nation with 23 -- and rushed for 136 yards against a sturdy Bears defense. He also had a tough 29-yard reception that put the Cardinal in position to win the game at the end before Cal iced things with an interception near the goal line.

New York Times: California's Late Stand Spoils Stanford's Pac-10 Title Hopes

Without waiting to see whether Oregon would beat Arizona in the desert, No. 14 Stanford took itself out of the Rose Bowl race. One of the more entertaining games in the recent history of this 112-game rivalry ended when Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed intercepted a pass from Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck at the Bears’ 3-yard line to save a 34-28 Cal victory at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night.

Cal (8-3, 5-3 Pacific-10) beat Stanford for the seventh time in the last eight years, pulling off the upset in a rare year in which the Cardinal was the favorite. The loss knocked Stanford (7-4, 6-3) into third place in the conference, ending its bid for a spot in the Rose Bowl.  The Cardinal looked to be on its way to a game-winning drive when Mohamed stepped in front of the pass from Luck with 1 minute 36 seconds left in the game. Behind the stellar performance of the senior running back Toby Gerhart, Stanford staged the late comeback attempt after watching its 14-0 first-quarter lead evaporate as Cal went on a 31-7 run.  Coming into the game, however, the tables had been turned on this rivalry. Stanford was the favorite for the first time since 2001. The Cardinal was ranked and bowl eligible, the tangible results of the rebuilding process of its third-year coach, Jim Harbaugh.  Cal, meanwhile, has been viewed as a major disappointment, starting the year among the country’s top-ranked teams and then dropping out of the national picture after lopsided losses to Oregon and Southern California at midseason.  The loss of Jahvid Best two weeks ago to a concussion was only supposed to further dampen the Bears’ prospects.

But the sophomore Shane Vereen, who has become the Bears’ No. 1 runner in Best’s absence, had career highs of 42 carries for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns and helped make much of this game a duel between the teams’ running backs.  Gerhart, who has vaulted into Heisman consideration, had 20 carries for 136 yards and 4 touchdowns. He set a Stanford record with his 23rd rushing touchdown this season.

Harbaugh said he regretted not handing the ball to Gerhart at the end.  “There were a lot of should-haves in this game,” Harbaugh said.

Link to rest of article.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

ESPN Big Game Recap

AP: Cal Beats No. 14 Stanford 34-28 in Big Game

Link.  (The headline should be Stanford runs out of Luck).

Shane Vereen ran for a career-high 193 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries and Mike Mohamed intercepted a pass from Andrew Luck at the 3 with less than 2 minutes left as California spoiled No. 14 Stanford's Rose Bowl hopes with a 34-28 victory in the Big Game on Saturday.

What was billed as the biggest Big Game in years lived up to the pregame hype, with Stanford's Heisman Trophy contender Toby Gerhart rushing for 136 yards, four touchdowns and carrying defenders on a 29-yard reception that set up Stanford (7-4, 6-3) at the Cal 13 with less than 2 minutes left.

Luck then threw an incompletion on first down and was intercepted by Mohamed on second with 1:36 to go, setting off a wild celebration on the Cal sideline. After Kevin Riley took three knees, the Cal students rushed the field and Stanford Stadium as the Golden Bears (8-3, 5-3 Pac-10) won the coveted Axe for the seventh time in eight years.

Stanford came into the game off two of its biggest wins in recent memory, scoring 106 points in the back-to-back victories over nationally ranked Oregon and Southern California that put the Cardinal in position to win the conference title.

Stanford looked poised for another big win after jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But the Golden Bears responded behind Vereen and a defense that flummoxed Luck.

The victory puts a bright spot on a mostly disappointing season for the Bears, who entered the season with hopes of a Rose Bowl bid or possible national title. That was dashed with blowout losses to Oregon and USC and the season looked lost when star tailback Jahvid Best was sidelined by a scary concussion in a loss two weeks ago against Oregon State.

Vereen has responded with the two best games of his career the past two weeks in wins over Arizona and Stanford. Running effectively off direct snaps in Cal's form of the wildcat, Vereen overpowered the Cardinal. The Bears drove more than 70 yards on three consecutive drives starting late in the second quarter, all ending with short runs by Vereen.

Link to rest of story.

Cal Beats Stanford 34-28 with Key Red Zone Interception

With less than 2 minutes left and Cal up 34 to 28, Stanford was in the red zone looking for the go ahead touchdown when Mike Mohammed intercepted the pass to give Cal a thrilling win in the Big Game.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Contra Costa Times: Cal Wants it to be a Keeper

Jonathan Okanes

Cal has won 45 Big Games, and last year's ranks right up there in the satisfaction department. That's because the Bears' loss the year before was so unsatisfying. Stanford's 20-13 upset of Cal in the first Big Game played at the new Stanford Stadium put the finishing touches on the Bears' colossal second-half slide. After beginning the season 5-0 and climbing to No. 2 in the polls, Cal lost six of its next seven games, culminating with the loss on The Farm. "We were on a bad downward spiral. Nothing was going our way," Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed said. "Stanford put the cherry on top. It was a rotten cherry." Not only did the loss make a bad situation worse, it snapped the Bears' five-game winning streak in the Big Game. It was coach Jeff Tedford's first loss in the rivalry. "It was terrible. The locker room afterward was bad," Mohamed said. "It was like we were the ones who lost The Axe. Previously, they had had it the whole time here. You lose it, and it really makes you appreciate having it back here at Cal." Perhaps nobody on Cal's roster appreciates the significance of the Big Game more than left tackle Mike Tepper, a sixth-year senior. "That was probably one of the worst feelings I've ever had at Cal," Tepper said. "Going 0-6 to USC is pretty bad, but losing The Axe in '07 was the worst feeling I ever had in my life. It tears the community apart. It's not just the team or the campus. It's the community. I think we have to be very motivated to get it again this year."

Link to rest of article.

SF Chronicle: Cardinal offensive line puts blue collar on

Tom Fitzgerald


The Buffalo Bills used to have the Electric Company because they turned on the Juice, O.J. Simpson. The Washington Redskins once had the Hogs. In the 1920s and '30s, Fordham had the Seven Blocks of Granite.  Often it takes a catchy nickname to get an offensive line some credit. Otherwise, the linemen spend entire careers anonymously banging heads with other big guys while quarterbacks and running backs revel in glory. In today's 112th Big Game, all eyes will be on Stanford's record-breaking tailback, Toby Gerhart. His tackle-breaking power is the big reason the Cardinal are favored over Cal for a change. But whatever holes the Heisman Trophy candidate finds will be those created by an offensive line that has dubbed itself the Tunnel Workers Union. OK, it burrows tunnels for Gerhart and all that, but the nickname fits the blue-collar style espoused by coach Jim Harbaugh.

Link to rest of article.

San Francisco Chronicle: Stop Gerhart, or get tricky

Ron Kroichick


Here comes Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, all 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds of him, barreling across the line of scrimmage. So, Cal linebacker Devin Bishop, how exactly will you tackle him?  "It's like taking down a bull," Bishop said. "We're going to have to make sure we gang tackle him, get the rope, make sure his legs are together, click the heels and then he'll go down." Bishop sounded so emphatic, so sure of the sequence, it seemed like he had experience with bulls.

"Nahh, I haven't taken one down," he said, smiling, "but I know the technique." The Bears will need good technique and then some in today's Big Game at Stanford Stadium. Cal's defense, which struggled much of the season before hopping to life in last week's win over Arizona, now faces a daunting challenge against Gerhart, quarterback Andrew Luck and the rest of the Cardinal. Stanford lit up the scoreboard for 106 points in its past two games, against Oregon and USC. Gerhart ran for 401 yards in those games, gaudy numbers against two of the top teams in the Pac-10.

Link to rest of article.

San Jose Mercury: Cal coach Jeff Tedford's QB assembly line has faded

Tim Kawakami

When Jeff Tedford sets up the digital video, taps "play" and starts to watch Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, I wonder what Cal's coach feels. Admiration, no doubt, as Tedford prepares for today's Big Game. Worry, I'm sure. How will Cal stop Luck, Toby Gerhart and the rest of a Cardinal machine that just put up 106 combined points on Oregon and USC? Deeper metaphysical Tedford worry: Luck is a redshirt freshman, already helping to put Stanford within reach of a big bowl berth and set up for two or three more Big Game/bowl game double-dips after this. And envy. Yes, given the recent state of Cal quarterbacking, there has to be significant Tedford envy when he watches Luck zip accurate passes to the right receiver at just the right moment. Meanwhile, Tedford's quarterback is Kevin Riley, who is sputtering to the end of another uneven season. Riley has one season of eligibility left, and there's no obvious candidate to supplant him in 2010.

Before this season, Tedford had Riley and Nate Longshore go on and off (and perform off-and-on) in 2007 and 2008; before that, it was Longshore in 2006, by far his best season. Before that, Tedford had Joe Ayoob. No need to say more.

You have to go back to 2004 to find Tedford's last quarterback treasure. That was Aaron Rodgers' last season at Cal and, not coincidentally, the last time Cal really figured as a national power late into November. That's a long time without a top quarterback, especially for Tedford, who made his reputation tutoring Trent Dilfer at Fresno State, Joey Harrington and Akili Smith at Oregon, and Kyle Boller and Rodgers from Cal to the NFL draft's first round.

Go bears!

USA Today Picks Stanford over Cal


No. 17 Stanford vs. California, 7:30 p.m.

At the start of the year, you would have assumed a running back in this game would be a Heisman candidate. The surprise is that Toby Gerhart of the Cardinal and not Jahvid Best of the Golden Bears. Stanford 34, California 23.

USA Today: Pac-10 starts to sort out its Rose Bowl berth


Desire: No. 17 Stanford still can make it to the Rose Bowl with a few breaks. California can't, but that won't diminish the Golden Bears' intensity as they visit the Cardinal for this year's "Big Game." Cal's main problem will be slowing the Stanford offense, which put up 106 points combined on Oregon and Southern California in consecutive outings. RB Toby Gerhart is the primary threat with QB Andrew Luck providing balance through the air. WR Chris Owusu is his fastest target. Cal TB Shane Vereen will continue to capably fill the shoes of Jahvid Best (concussion), but QB Kevin Riley must be sharp.

San Jose Mercury: Cal's defense faces big challenge in Stanford

Jonathan Okanes

Cal's defense looked a lot like it did in the past last Saturday against Arizona. That's a good thing, because the future is about to get a little problematic.  The Bears brought back memories of last year's dominant defense in their 24-16 win over the Wildcats. They'll need that kind of dominance in Saturday's Big Game at Stanford when they face arguably the hottest offense in the country. "You're always still growing, trying to find that right mix and all that kind of stuff," Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. "For whatever reason, it clicked on Saturday and hopefully it will keep clicking." The Wildcats came into Saturday's game with the Pac-10's leading offense (448.6 yards per game), but the Bears limited them to 274 yards. Shutting offenses down became routine last season, when Cal finished with the 23rd-ranked defense in the country.

Although the Bears lost their trio of star linebackers — Zack Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder — some believed Cal's defense would be even stronger this season with the entire defensive line and secondary returning, as well as a new crop of talented but inexperienced linebackers ready to make an impact.  For most of the season, that hasn't been the case. Even with Saturday's performance, the Bears still rank seventh in the Pac-10 in total defense (372.8 ypg) and sixth in scoring defense (22.4 ppg).

Link to rest of article.

Daily Cal: Smell of Roses Accompanies Card in Big Game

Jeff Goodman

Jeff Tedford arrived in Berkeley eight seasons ago with a few things to take care of, not the least of which was a turnaround in the Big Game. Stanford, after all, had won the annual Bay Area battle for seven consecutive years. The coach of the Cal football team has been largely successful on that front, as the Bears have won six of the last seven rivalry games. But Tedford has noticed a trend. "Every year," he said, "it seems to be more challenging." And the 112th installment of the Big Game, which takes place at Stanford Stadium, figures to be no different. On Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Cal will face a Cardinal team that has turned heads in recent weeks with commanding victories against Oregon and USC. At Monday's press conference, Tedford was the first to acknowledge his opponent's upswing. "They're probably the hottest team in the country right now," he said. "We have our hands full."

Link to rest of article.

SF Chronicle: Cal Enters a New Era with a new Tedford, As Well

Ron Kroichick


Sometimes, after games, Cal coach Jeff Tedford will enter the locker room, make a hard right turn and walk all the way down the aisle, near a window against one side of Memorial Stadium, to heartily congratulate an offensive lineman on playing well. Then he'll find quarterback Kevin Riley, or a defensive player, and offer similar praise.  This is the same stoic, reclusive Tedford who savors holing up in his office to watch video?

Other times, during practices or at the start of the fourth quarter in games this season, he has stood in the middle of a scrum of Cal players. As they exuberantly bounce up and down, Tedford raises his voice - loudly, vigorously, passionately trying to stoke his players' emotions. This is the same calm, analytical Tedford who hides behind dark sunglasses and speaks in even, measured tones?  As he prepares for his 100th game at Cal on Saturday - he's 66-33, one shy of matching Pappy Waldorf for most victories in the school's modern era - Tedford clearly has grown into the job. He's no longer simply a strategy-obsessed, onetime offensive coordinator, singularly consumed with the chess-game moves of football.

Now, more than ever, Tedford embraces the human element. He's making an unmistakable effort to connect with his players, from those postgame words of encouragement to occasional before-practice chats about their academic workload.

Link to rest of article.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

San Jose Mercury: Stanford and Cal's Big Game should finally live up to its name

Jon Wilner

Finally, a Big Game that lives up to its name.  This, folks, is what rivalry week feels like in Eugene and Los Angeles and Columbus but something Bay Area fans haven't experienced in nearly 20 years.  Cal and Stanford are both 7-3. Both are ranked in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings. Both are bowl eligible. One team has the Rose Bowl in its sights and a Heisman Trophy candidate — it's just not the team we expected when the season began. Fresh off its beatdown of USC, Stanford is four reasonable steps from the Pac-10 title, and tailback Toby Gerhart is making a late-season charge for the Heisman.

Following its best defensive performance of the season, Cal is hunting for a top-tier bowl bid and yet another eight-win season.  The way the Bears rallied to defeat then-No. 18 Arizona was enough to make you think they have a chance to beat Stanford. Well, almost enough.  In reality, the Bears have very little chance. If we've learned anything over the years, it's that the better team wins the Big Game and "anything" hardly ever happens.  Only once in the past decade has the favorite lost — and that favorite, Cal in '07, entered the Big Game with a hobbled quarterback (Nate Longshore) and five losses in its previous six games.

Link to rest of article.

New York Times: Gerhart Gives Stanford a Heisman Hopeful

Four Stanford graduates have become Supreme Court justices since the football team produced its only Heisman Trophy winner, Jim Plunkett, in 1970. Into this yawning gap burst Toby Gerhart, a senior tailback, who has insinuated himself into the Heisman conversation this month while leading Stanford to consecutive upsets of Oregon and Southern California. Gerhart, 22, has stiff-armed convention, critics and convenience while gaining 1,395 yards on 262 carries and scoring 19 touchdowns this season. The Cardinal, which has not won a national title in football since 1926, finished 1-11 in Gerhart’s freshman season. He is on a pace to finish with more than 1,800 yards for Stanford, which hosts cross-bay rival California on Saturday, is 7-3 and guaranteed its first bowl appearance since 2001.

Link to rest of article.


Stanford Football: Improved. Stanford Dollies: Not So Much


San Jose Mercury: Stanford aching to get back The Axe

Cal has something Stanford wants — The Axe.  The Bears' rally committee will guard it while the Cardinal and Bears vie in the 112th Big Game at Stanford Stadium on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. No. 14 Stanford (7-3, 6-2 Pac-10) is a touchdown favorite, the first time it has been favored over the Bears (7-3, 4-3 Pac-10) since 2001. Stanford, which has an outside shot to land in the Rose Bowl, leads the all-time series 55-45-11.  "We have our hands full and have a great challenge with this Cal team," Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said. "They have an identity on both sides of the ball. Their special teams are very impressive to watch. Cal has the best defensive front we have faced all year."

The Bears have a highly touted defensive end in Tyson Alualu (6-3, 295 pounds), who leads the team in sacks with six.  "Alualu is the best defensive lineman in the Pac-10," Harbaugh said. "They have great linebackers. They put pressure on in so many different ways." The Cardinal has been on a major roll with back-to-back wins over then No. 7 Oregon 51-42, followed by a second-half thrashing of then No. 11 USC 55-21. The 55 points were the most scored against the Trojans in their storied history.

"Stanford is the hottest team in the country right now," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "It's unbelievably impressive what they have done. They play so physical. Their offensive line is the best offensive line in the conference. They have physical tight ends. What Stanford has done is no fluke. There is nothing flukish about those games. Those were dominating performances. It was probably the most impressive I've seen — what they did against Oregon and USC."

Link to rest of article.

New York Times: Now, Pressure Is for Players Not to Play After a Concussion

Alan Schwarz

Messages sent to the University of California athletic office over the past two weeks have not implored team doctors to put the Bears’ star running back, Jahvid Best, back on the field to help Cal against archrival Stanford this Saturday.  Instead, they generally scolded the university and coaches for allowing Best, currently sidelined with a concussion, to play Nov. 7 against Oregon State. A harrowing neck-first crash to the turf in that game not only knocked him unconscious but it put him onto a stretcher and into an Oakland hospital overnight. The concussion was reported as Best’s second in eight days, leading many — having heard recent horror stories of football players’ brain damage — to question whether Best, 20, was put in unreasonable danger.

“The consistent theme is, What kind of example are we setting here for my son who’s in high school, who looks up to Jahvid as a role model, when he is sent back to play after supposedly a concussion of some severity?” said Dr. Brad Buchman, Cal’s supervising team physician. “The impression from the public is that he was quote-unquote sent back too fast.”  Buchman added, “You know you’re doing all the right things, and the perception is that you are not.”  Best’s concussion has invited new scrutiny, which Buchman noticed immediately. He said that ever since a study sponsored by the N.F.L. was released two months ago, concussions have become “a buzzword now” that the public expects to be heeded.

That study indicated that dementia and other memory-related diseases had been diagnosed in the league’s retired players several times more often than in the national population. The study also sparked a Congressional committee to hold a hearing on football brain injuries among players of all ages.

The primary point of contention around Berkeley is whether Best had sustained a concussion in the game before his more serious injury. Best remarked to the news media after missing two days of practice that trainers had told him he had sustained a concussion. Buchman and the associate football team physician, Dr. Casey Batten, however, said that they later determined that Best’s headache and dizziness were merely from a cold, and that he was cleared for the Arizona State game appropriately.


Link to rest of article.

SF Chronicle: Memories of Big Game Loss Linger

Ron Kroichick


Cal has won the Big Game in six of the past seven years. The one time the Bears lost during that stretch, 20-13 at Stanford Stadium in 2007, the empty feeling left a lasting impression on offensive tackle Mike Tepper and running back Shane Vereen.  "That was probably the worst feeling I've ever had at Cal," said Tepper, who has been in the program six years. "Going 0-6 against USC is pretty bad, but losing the Axe in '07 was the worst feeling. It tears you apart. It means a lot to us."

Vereen, who will start Saturday in place of the injured Jahvid Best, was a true freshman in 2007. He redshirted that season, so Vereen didn't even suit up for the Big Game. Still, he quickly learned all about the rivalry.  "I just remember being on the field and all their fans storming the field and yelling and going crazy," he said. "That's the worst feeling you can have - people beating you and then throwing it in your face."

Research project: Tepper wants to make sure Cal's young players understand the history and tradition of the Big Game. So he "assigned" freshman center Mark Brazinski to write a six- to eight-page paper on the history of the Stanford Axe, due Tuesday.

Link to rest of article.

Daily Cal: Midweek Notebook, Week 12

Matt Kawahara

The first visible signs that this is Big Game week were out at practice on Tuesday, although coach Jeff Tedford said that the Cal football team won't fully address the history of its rivalry with Stanford until later in the week. As per tradition, the Bears' scout team players decorated their helmets with materials like white tape, red "S" logos and Stanford trees. Still, Tedford said that he doesn't typically sense a different feel in practice until it gets close to Saturday --- and that he prefers a more focused mood for the first couple of days, anyway.

"As the week goes on, (the excitement) starts to escalate throughout the week," Tedford said. "Early in the week they're just trying to comprehend what the game plan is, what we're trying to get done. ... (Lingering soreness from the previous weekend's game) seems to dissipate as the week goes on, and the enthusiasm just increases."  Tedford said that the team will likely bring the Axe -- which Cal recaptured last season after losing it in 2007 to end a five-year winning streak -- out to practice on Thursday or Friday. The Bears will attend the annual Bonfire Rally on Friday night, the same day that Tedford will tell the team a little about the history of the Axe and the importance of the rivalry -- mainly for the benefit of the freshmen.

Link to rest of article.

Fox Sports: Stanford-Cal? It's pretty big this time

Billy Witz

The surest sign that the presumptuously named Big Game is finally a big game arrived Monday with the announcement that Tiger Woods will serve as Stanford's honorary captain Saturday when Cal makes the bus trip across the bay. Who knew Tiger was as good a front-runner off the golf course as he is on it?

But after the last two weeks, with demolitions of Oregon and USC, maybe Woods is a fitting flag-bearer. The Cardinal are rolling into late November with the same sort of fist-pumping swagger that he carries with him into the back nine on Sunday afternoons.  The Cardinal have been riding the punishing running of tailback Toby Gerhart, who has thrust himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation, and the cocksureness of their coach, Capt. Hubris himself, Jim Harbaugh.

If it wasn't a statement enough to hang 55 points on the Trojans — more than anyone had ever scored against them — Harbaugh wanted to enhance it by attempting a late 2-point conversion. (Harbaugh and USC coach Pete Carroll have a history — Harbaugh saying two years ago that Carroll would leave for the NFL after the season; and their dueling timeouts at the end of last year's 45-23 Trojans' victory.)

These eyebrow-raising victories have brought an element of seriousness to the Big Game that hasn't existed in a while. This is the first time since 2001 that both teams will be bowl-eligible and it's the first time since 1991 that Stanford (7-3, 6-2) and Cal (7-3, 4-3) enter the game at the seven-win plateau.

Link to rest of article.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Stanford Seven Point Favorite Over Cal

Here’s the link.  Here’s another useful link where you can buy tickets to the Emerald Bowl. 

AP: Jahvid Best Won't Play in Big Game


California star tailback Jahvid Best will not play in the Big Game against Stanford this week as he recovers from a concussion.  Coach Jeff Tedford said Monday there is "no chance" Best would play Saturday against No. 14 Stanford. Best sustained his second concussion in an eight-day period when he fell on his back and head from about 8 feet in the air on Nov. 7 against Oregon State.  Best returned to the team late last week and was an honorary captain before the Golden Bears beat Arizona last Saturday.  Best has 16 touchdowns and 867 yards rushing this season.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oakland Tribune: Best's sideline presence inspires teammates, fans

Jonathan Okanes

Injured tailback Jahvid Best spoke publicly Saturday for the first time since last weekend's scary fall against Oregon State, saying that he's feeling good and thanking fans "from around the world" for their support.  Best was interviewed briefly by Versus television just before kickoff and was an honorary captain for the coin toss.  "I'm doing pretty good," Best said. "It was an unfortunate incident that happened, but I'm feeling good. I'm feeling a lot better and I'm just looking forward to getting back on the field with my guys."  Best suffered a severe concussion during the game against the Beavers after he landed hard on his back and head at the end of a 7-yard touchdown run. Best was carted off the field in a stretcher and spent the night in a hospital.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford met with Best on Friday and asked him to be an honorary captain for the Bears final home game of the season.  "I had a meeting with him yesterday and asked him to go out to be an honorary captain because I thought it would be great for the fans to see him and kind of give his appreciation to him for our last home game," Tedford said. "I thought it was very important for the fans to see he was doing well."  Cal's Shane Vereen, one of Best's closest friends, rushed for 159 yards on 30 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown run to give Cal a 24-16 lead with 1:21 remaining.

Vereen paid tribute to Best on his eye black, wearing Best's No. 4 under one eye and his initials under the other.

Link to rest of article.

San Jose Mercury: Harbaugh angers USC by going for two

Jon Wilner

The most memorable play of Stanford's 55-21 victory over USC had nothing to do with the outcome.

It was not one of Andrew Luck's touchdown passes or Toby Gerhart's overpowering runs. Nor was it Richard Sherman's victory-clinching interception return.  It was a two-point conversion attempt by Stanford with 6:47 remaining and victory assured. The Cardinal led 48-21 at the time — it was two points from an even 50. The run failed, but the Trojans were not happy. "I don't feel like commenting," said safety Taylor Mays, who walked toward the Stanford bench while glaring at Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh after the play.  Asked why he went for two points instead of kicking the extra point, Harbaugh provided a non-answer answer: "I thought it was an opportunity, the way we were coming off the ball, the way our players were playing — that it was the right thing to do," Harbaugh said. Was there more to it?

Link to rest of article.

San Jose Mercury: Cal's Shane Vereen shines in starring role

Gary Peterson

Twenty-nine carries into the heaviest lifting he's ever known as a collegian, Shane Vereen was as pristine as a blade of rubberized turf. That's his version of the truth, and he's sticking to it.  "It was different than normal," was as far from the script as Vereen would venture Saturday night, after helping Cal to a grinding 24-16 victory over Arizona. "But mentally and physically I was prepared. Coach G (Ron Gould, Cal's running backs coach) did a good job during the week getting me ready."

The special preparation was in order because Cal came into Saturday's game without its best offensive chess piece, tailback Jahvid Best. Still recovering from the heart-stopping fall he took in the Bears' previous game, Best's role against Arizona was strictly inspirational. He observed the pregame coin flip. He walked the home sideline, wearing his familiar No. 4.

Link to rest of article.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cal Alumni Group in Green Bay?

A reader of this blog inquired as to whether there is an alumni group in the Green Bay area.  If you know of one, please post a comment below.

Arizona Daily Star: UA thrown for a loop

Strange penalty on late pass play costs Cats dearly


Climb the 75 rows from the field to the top of ancient Memorial Stadium and, on a clear day, you can see Alcatraz Island. The legendary prison is a perpetual monument to rash decisions, impossible escape attempts and — ultimately — despair.  The 18th-ranked Arizona Wildcats didn't need the institutional reminder Saturday. Following a disheartening 24-16 loss to Cal, they know.

Cal's Giorgio Tavecchio hit four field goals, including a 22-yard go-ahead kick with 4 minutes 46 seconds remaining, to boost the Golden Bears past a desperate UA team.  Arizona (6-3 overall, 4-2 Pac-10) can still earn a share of the Pac-10 title by winning its remaining games against Oregon, Arizona State and USC.  But Rose Bowl talk seems distant, almost silly, now.  "We lost focus this game," UA safety Cam Nelson said. "Everybody was too worried about Stanford, USC and what the other guys were doing this week instead of focusing on ourselves. That's why we came out flat. … We were so excited to be ranked and finally have something going that we lost track of what we were going after."

The Golden Bears were locked in all night, in part because of Tavecchio's left foot.  The Italian-born kicker hit four of his five attempts, including two 46-yarders, to pace Cal's scoring attack. Tavecchio contributed in other ways, too. After hitting the field goal that put Cal ahead for good, the kicker tackled Arizona's Travis Cobb on a kickoff return. Bolstered by Cobb's return, Arizona drove deep into Cal territory. Foles was finally making all the right decisions — until he made a disastrous one.

Arizona faced third-and-three from the Cal 25 when Foles dropped back and attempted a short pass. The ball deflected off a Cal defender and back into the hands of Foles, who rolled right and threw it forward again — this time for a completion to Delashaun Dean.

Foles was flagged for an illegal forward pass, and Arizona was penalized 5 yards from the spot of the penalty, 9yards behind the line of scrimmage. Arizona's field goal unit stood on the sideline when, on fourth-and-17 from the Golden Bears' 39, Foles attempted a desperate pass to David Roberts that was broken up. Coach Mike Stoops called Foles' flub "a natural reaction." The Cats quarterback was harder on himself. "I should have just batted it down," Foles said. "It's something I know." Foles' mistake was emblematic of the Wildcats' struggles. Arizona gained just 274 yards, 174 below its season average. Foles completed 25 of 41 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted once and sacked three times.  The Wildcats rushed for just 73 yards as a team, a 2.6 yards-per-carry average that rarely equates to wins. And yet Arizona had its chances.

Cal (7-3, 4-3) scored a late touchdown but botched a PAT attempt, leaving Arizona a chance to drive for a game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion.  The Wildcats had hope, but struggled to make the simplest of plays. Their last drive included an incomplete pass, a holding call (which was declined) and two sacks. "I didn't feel like we got in any kind of rhythm offensively, at all," offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said. Things weren't much better on defense. Cal tailback Shane Vereen gained 159 of his team's 357 yards. Quarterback Kevin Riley struggled, but still threw for 181 yards and a touchdown.

"I'm so disturbed and disappointed, it's hard to even reflect back," defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said. "We felt like we were doing some good things, but I felt we really had to be on the money."

Instead, the Wildcats were — metaphorically speaking — on an island all night. Every escape attempt failed. "You're looking for a big play," he said. "We didn't really execute at the end, and it hurt us."

Cal 24, Arizona 16

Ron Kroichick


Given the challenge lurking ahead - a Stanford offense tossing out 50-plus points every time it takes the field - Cal's defense chose an ideal time to play one of its best games of the season Saturday.  The Bears scratched out a 24-16 victory over Arizona, mostly because their defense stymied the top-rated offense in the Pac-10. Cal twice stuffed late Wildcats drives to preserve the win before a boisterous crowd of 53,347 at Memorial Stadium.

Shane Vereen, starting in place of injured Jahvid Best, gained 159 yards on 30 carries to spark the offense. Vereen doggedly chipped away throughout the game, then busted loose for a 61-yard touchdown run with 1:21 left to stretch Cal's lead to eight points.  That seemed to cement the outcome, but the Bears missed the extra point to give Arizona another chance. The Wildcats moved the ball near midfield before faltering, in part because of Cal's invigorated pass rush.  Arizona, now 6-3 overall and 4-2 in Pac-10 play, arrived with Rose Bowl hopes and an average of 448.6 yards per game on offense. They managed only 274 on Saturday, as Cal's defense - overwhelmed last week against Oregon State - rose to the occasion, especially in the secondary. "The defense just played unbelievably," coach Jeff Tedford said.

Link to rest of article.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Jahvid Best Concussion Video

Daily Cal: Cal Program Relieved by End of Best's Hospital Stay

Matt Kawahara

Jahvid Best, who suffered a serious concussion in the second quarter of the Cal football team's loss to Oregon State on Saturday night, was released from Highland General Hospital on Sunday after CT scans and X-rays came back normal.  "He's doing fine," Bears coach Jeff Tedford said. "He's sore. But we're all thankful that there's no severe damage and he's going to recover just fine."

Best was injured when he hurdled a defender into the end zone and was upended by Beavers safety Cameron Collins while in the air, landing violently and awkwardly on the back of his head and neck. The game stopped for about 15 minutes while medical personnel attended to Best, who was knocked unconscious by the impact. Tedford visited Best in the hospital Saturday night and said the junior tailback was awake and communicating, but was a little groggy from medication. When the two spoke on the phone Sunday, Tedford said, Best sounded much more alert. Best does remember the play and has seen replays.

Although Tedford said after the game that Best was "doing OK," it was still reassuring for him to have the Vallejo, Calif., native return home.

Link to rest of article.

Oakland Tribune: Inconsistent play just one of many concerns for Tedford, Bears

Gay Peterson

Jahvid Best took the direct snap from center, curled around left end and streaked for the goal line. Waiting for him there was Oregon State's Tim Clark, anticipating what was sure to be a glorious collision of chiseled brawn and youthful bravado.  It never happened. As he approached Clark, Best bounded into the air like a gazelle. Rather than run through the defender, Best had chosen to leap over him. Maybe to put an exclamation point on an arduous 15-play drive. Maybe to serve as an inspiration for a team that was trailing 14-0 and struggling to do anything well.

Maybe he did it because he could.  Regardless, in that moment Best personified all that the Cal football team believed itself to be and hoped for its future. He was unbounded by conventional physics, a dream in flight. It was exhilarating, a stupendous sight.  And then it was a horrifying vision. Best was nearing his apex — he wasn't going to clear Clark, but it was going to be close — when the pursuing Cameron Collins placed his hand on Best's hind end and gave him a shove.

Link to rest of article.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Best Update

The AP reports as follows:

“Cal spokesman Herb Benenson said that a preliminary evaluation showed Best sustained a concussion, but more tests were being done before a final diagnosis would be announced by the school. Best had movement in all of his extremities, Benenson said.”


Jahvid Best Seriously Injured

Jahvid Best sustained what appeared to be an extremely serious back/neck injury while scoring the Bears’ first touchdown.  After approximately ten minutes of medical attention, he was taken from the field while being provided oxygen.  He did not raise his hand or acknowledge the crowd.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Contra Costa Times: Cal quarterback Kevin Riley learns from his mistakes

Jonathan Okanes

When Oregon State last visited Berkeley two years ago, it resulted in quarterback Kevin Riley's most forgettable moment at Cal. He tried to run for a touchdown with no timeouts remaining, and the clock ran out in a 31-28 loss. Now, Riley has come full circle. He made all the right decisions while orchestrating a flawless two-minute drive to beat Arizona State last weekend. It was the first time he had been in that position since the blunder against the Beavers. "If I was now in that situation, I just would have thrown the ball out of bounds right away," Riley said of the game two years ago. "It's just something you learn from, and I've learned from it and gotten better." Oregon State will see a much different quarterback Saturday than it did two years ago. Riley was forced into his first collegiate start because of an ankle injury to Nate Longshore and had an uneven performance. But he almost led the Bears back from a 31-21 deficit, first completing a 64-yard touchdown pass to Lavelle Hawkins, and then taking over at the Cal 5-yard line with 1:27 remaining and marching the team downfield before the stunning ending.

Link to rest of article.

AP: Cal QB looking to erase bad memory against Beavers

Two years after his fourth-quarter mistake against Oregon State cost California a shot at becoming the top-ranked team in the nation, Kevin Riley can't escape the images of his blunder.  At least now the Golden Bears senior quarterback can laugh about it.  Riley, who has No. 23 Cal back in the Top 25 after a six-week absence, chuckled when remembering the play that ended the Golden Bears' dreams of national recognition and made him a constant feature on highlight shows.  "You'd see it on TV, and a week after I remember everybody staring at it not saying anything," Riley said. "And I'd go, 'Hey everybody, I'm on TV,' trying to lighten up the mood a little bit."  Riley was forced to re-live memories of that infamous day against the Beavers in 2007 this week as the Golden Bears returned home to host Oregon State in a pivotal Pac-10 matchup for both teams on Saturday.  Cal (6-2, 3-2 Pac-10) has won three straight after consecutive blowout losses to Oregon and USC, and is coming off a 23-21 victory at Arizona State in which Riley engineered a late fourth-quarter drive that led to the game-winning score.  Instead of basking in the glow of that win, though, Riley has had to answer questions about that ill-fated play against the Beavers two years ago.

Link to rest of article.

Gazette Times: Cal's Riley puts hard lessons to work as he becomes a leader

The last time Kevin Riley led a last-minute drive, he made a critical mistake. It was 2007 and Riley, starting for the first time as a freshman quarterback for the University of California, was moving the Golden Bears down the field against Oregon State. Trailing 31-28, Riley drove the team 84 yards to the OSU 10, but he became known for what turned out to be the final play. Riley was chased out of the pocket and decided to scramble down the field as seconds ticked away. Time ran out. Not this time. This was an older, wiser, more experienced Kevin Riley.  Riley had to drive the Bears into field goal range for a chance to take a win at Arizona State last Saturday. He stepped in and calmly led Cal 74 yards in 11 plays, hitting five of six passes, all for first downs. When kicker Giorgio Tavecchio knocked through a 24-yard field goal with 21 seconds left, Cal had a 23-21 win and Riley had his game-winning drive.

Riley took it all in stride. He said the team moved the ball well on the previous drive. "We got the ball back with some time left and we were clicking," Riley said. "I was just seeing the field well and had confidence that we were going to pull it off." Riley finished the game with 351 yards passing and two touchdowns. Not even three fumbles could faze him.

Link to rest of article.

SF Examiner: Bears' Riley gets chance to vanquish a ghost

Ron Kroichick

Kevin Riley remembers the highlight airing time after relentless time. He would glance at the television and see himself scrambling out of the pocket, going down, hopping to his feet and hurriedly tossing the ball at the referee as Cal's field-goal unit rushed onto the field.  Then the clock ran out with the Bears on the short end of the score, and coach Jeff Tedford angrily slammed his play card and headphones to the ground. Riley, with friends when the highlight appeared, recalled the room growing silent as they stared at the familiar images. He tried to lighten the tension by announcing, "Hey, everyone, I'm on TV!" More than two years later, Oregon State returns to Berkeley on Saturday for the first time since Riley's memorable mistake in his inaugural college start. Safe to say, he's at a different stage of his career - as the established starting quarterback, on an unmistakable roll as he tries to guide the Bears (6-2) into a top-tier bowl game.

ESPN: Cal-Oregon State a measuring stick for their season

How does a team define a successful season? Here's a guess that both California's and Oregon State's definitions includes a victory this weekend.  Considering that they are meeting in Berkeley on Saturday, the obvious point of contention is one will walk away with a high degree of disappointment.  A win guarantees nothing. But a loss probably will prelude a below-expectation finish in the Pac-10.

California (6-2, 3-2), ranked 20th in the BCS standings, has won three straight since since becoming a national punchline after losing consecutive weekends to Oregon and USC by a combined count of 72-6. A third-place finish and a potential Holiday Bowl berth -- if the conference gets two BCS teams -- are still appealing possibilities, though the Bears were thinking Rose Bowl in the preseason.

Link to rest of article.

SF Chronicle: Concussion limits Best

Cal running back Jahvid Best missed practice Wednesday with what doctors told him was a "mild concussion," but Best anticipates playing Saturday against Oregon State. Best sustained his injury Saturday against Arizona State, though he wasn't diagnosed with a concussion until Monday. He downplayed the symptoms, saying it "felt like a headache to me," but Cal kept him out of practice the past two days. Tight end out: Anthony Miller, the Bears' starting tight end and third-leading receiver with 17 catches, had arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday to repair meniscus damage in the knee, coach Jeff Tedford said. Tedford wasn't sure if Miller will recover in time to play Nov. 14. Skylar Curran will replace Miller as the starter Saturday. Briefly: Guard Matt Summers-Gavin and nose guard Derrick Hill, both of whom missed the ASU game with shoulder injuries, are considered doubtful for Saturday.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gazette Times: Quizz vs. Best make interesting matchup in Beavers game

Two of the most dynamic running backs in the nation face off Saturday when the Oregon State football team plays California in a Pacific-10 Conference game.  OSU's Jacquizz Rodgers and Cal's Jahvid Best were the top two ball carriers in the Pac-10 last season and they've kept up similar paces this season.

Both are of vital importance in the success of their teams. When they are playing well everything goes smoothly. "If we win, many times our running back does pretty well," coach Mike Riley said. "That's our identity."  Best and Rodgers will never be on the field at the same time, but this is a rivalry of who can out-do who.

Winning the game is the most important aspect, but comparing them makes for interesting fodder going into the showdown.  "It's like a competition," Rodgers said. "You have to go out and compete and do the best you can. I just do it for my team and to win the game."  Best won the Pac-10 rushing title last season when Rodgers missed the last six quarters of the regular season with a shoulder injury. Best gained 1,580 yards with an 8.1-yard average per carry and scored 15 touchdowns.

However, Rodgers had done enough to be voted by the coaches the conference offensive player of the year. He gained 1,243 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. "They are both in their own way tremendous players," Riley said. "That's the unique thing about great backs. They have ability, and have a knack for seeing."

Link to rest of article.

Statesman Journal: Beavers in good hands when Rodgers has football

Gary Horowitz

Jacquizz Rodgers does it all for Oregon State.  The sophomore tailback is second in the Pac-10 in rushing (922 yards) and receptions (49) and is tied for second in the nation with 15 touchdowns.  He also threw a touchdown pass in last week's UCLA game from the Beavers' version of the wildcat formation.

Here's something Rodgers hasn't done: Fumble. In 510 career touches —431 rushes, 78 receptions, and one pass — Rodgers has yet to fumble. "I don't like talking about it," Rodgers said before Tuesday's practice. Rodgers credits running backs coach Reggie Davis for helping him with ball security.

"My coach always preached high and tight," Rodgers said. "Just make sure you secure the ball, that's the main thing. I make sure I keep the ball secure when I'm making cuts."  Talking about fumbles is sort of like approaching a pitcher when he has a no-hitter going. "I don't even know what you're talking about," offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said in jest.

OSU has fumbled just six times as a team this season, losing one after a James Rodgers reception at USC.  "To have a reliable person that you give the ball to a lot is a really, really good thing," coach Mike Riley said.  Jacquizz Rodgers is within reach of several single-season school records. He needs five rushing touchdowns to tie the school record of 19 held by Steven Jackson (2003) and Ken Simonton (1999 and 2000), and with 90 points and four regular-season games remaining, Jackson's record of 132 points (2003) also is in sight.

Rodgers and California's Jahvid Best, who were the first-team all-Pac-10 running backs last season, are tied for the conference lead in touchdowns.

Link to rest of article.

Seattle Post Intelligencer: Pac-10 matchup in Berkeley features Beavers and Bears

The Oregon State Beavers and the California Golden Bears will clash this weekend in what figures to be a competitive Pac-10 contest.  Oregon State has won three of its last four outings to move to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in league play. The most recent triumph occurred over UCLA on Saturday by a 26-19 final in thrilling fashion. All three losses this season have come by 10 or fewer points, and OSU can become eligible for the postseason with a win over California.

Speaking of the Golden Bears, they have won their last three outings to move to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play. The win streak put the Bears back in the top-25 this week, coming in at 23rd in the nation. Prior to Saturday's tilt against Arizona State, all seven of their contests had been decided by double figures. The game against the Sun Devils was extremely close, however, and Jeff Tedford has to be proud of the fact that his team escaped the road affair with a 23-21 triumph. California owns a 33-28 series edge over Oregon State, but the Beavers have won the last two meetings.

Oregon State is scoring 29.4 ppg this season to go along with 408.6 total ypg. The Beavers have some talented offensive performers, but none more exciting than tailback Jacquizz Rodgers. Through eight games, he has rushed for 922 yards and 14 touchdowns while also hauling in 49 receptions for 371 yards and a score. Clearly, Rodgers is a frontrunner for Pac-10 Player of the Year honors. His brother, James Rodgers, is second on the team in rushing and first in receiving with 60 grabs for 706 yards and five scores. Sean Canfield has started all eight games at quarterback for the Beavers and has connected on 68.9 percent of his throws for 2,039 yards and 11 touchdowns with four interceptions. James Rodgers played hero for Oregon State last weekend, as he scored on a 17-yard run with 44 seconds remaining to break a 19-19 tie and lead his team to victory. Jacquizz threw a touchdown pass in the tilt, and the versatile talent posted 112 rushing yards and 92 receiving yards.

Link to rest of article.

SF Examiner: California Golden Bears next focus on Rodgers brothers

Rob Calonge

Seven catches for 55 yards, 30 carries for 166 yards, and two touchdowns. Oh, and more importantly, one big 'W' in the process. That 'W' made the difference between a bid at the Holiday Bowl or a near-home game at the Emerald Bowl.

Not that Cal didn't enjoy their game at AT&T Park, but if you can't go to the Rose Bowl, the Holiday Bowl is the next best get for Pac-10 teams.  So where do all the numbers responsible for the 'W' come from? They come from the Rodgers brothers combined stats from last year that led to the 'W' against Cal last year. A win which helped them tie Oregon for second in the Pac-10 with a 7-2 record. Cal's conference record was 6-3.

The Beavers have been a thorn in the side of the Golden Bears for some time now. In their last seven meetings, Oregon State has come away with the victory. Combining that thorn with the thorn created last season with the pairing of the Rodgers, and you can guess that Cal has their work cut out for them this weekend.

Link to rest of article.