39

Football: Cal-Arizona game thread

FINAL SCORE: Arizona 49 Cal 45. Impossible, right? Well, I’ve never seen anything like it, and neither has anyone else I talked to in the press box tonight. The Wildcats (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) scored 36 fourth-quarter points, including four TD passes from redshirt freshman Anu Solomon. He finished with 520 passing yards and five TDs. None was bigger or more improbable than his 47-yard “Hail Mary” to Austin Hill after taking the final snap with 4 seconds left. The Bears (2-1, 0-1) were ruined. “So painful,” said quarterback Jared Goff, who passed for 380 yards and three TDs.

Click here to read my game story.

END OF THIRD QTR: Cal 31-13. It may not be over. The Wildcats have definitely had the better of things this quarter — Solomon beginning to find a rhythm running and throwing — and they begin the period with a second-and-10 from the Cal 14.

Cal totaled just 44 yards of offense in the quarter, compared to 169 for the Wildcats.

HALFTIME: Cal 28-6. Cal’s best half of the Sonny Dykes era. Griffin Piatt’s third interception in three games — on the goal line with 47 seconds left in the half — kept the Wildcats out of the end zone after they threatened again.

Goff was 13 for 17 for 294 yards and three TDs. In the second quarter he threw a 26-yarder to Stephen Anderson that was Anderson’s first career TD catch and his first catch of any kind this season. He also connected with Chris Harper on a 30-yard TD that made it 28-6.

Lasco has 11 carries for 74 yards and Cal has outgained Arizona 375 yards to 190.

END OF FIRST QTR: Cal 14-0. The Bears played a nearly perfect first 3:07 of the game, scoring two touchdowns on just four plays that covered a total of 165 yards. Daniel Lasco got the first on a 44-yard TD run, then Jared Goff threw 80 yards to Bryce Treggs on a one-play scoring drive with 11:53 left in the quarter.

Cal outgained the Cats 210 yards to 56. Goff was 7 for 8 for 149 yards. Lasco had six carries for 56 yards.

*****

Welcome to Arizona Stadium in Tucson. We are about 90 minutes from kickoff of the Pac-12 opener between Cal (2-0) and Arizona (3-0).

A warm early evening with a few clouds. Things can change in a hurry in the desert, but this doesn’t look like a night that will bring rain.

A couple of depth-chart notes: sophomore Jake Kearney gets his first start at the SAM linebacker spot. Jalen Jefferson moves to the WILL, and Ray Davison, who had started at the SAM, is listed as No. 2 at WILL.

Cedric Dozier is listed as a starter at one cornerback spot over Darius Allensworth, although they likely will be on the field together when Cal is in a nickel formation, which could be often.

Arizona dressed in all-white uniforms, Cal in gold on gold with blue helmets.

COIN FLIP: Cal wins the toss and will receive. Same as the past two games, when the Bears opened with long drives to touchdowns.

Enjoy the game.

0

Report due this week from Cal’s Task Force on Academics and Athletics

Nine months after coming together to address poor classroom performance and graduation rates by the football and men’s basketball teams, Cal’s Task Force on Academics and Athletics has submitted a working draft of its report to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

Michael Williams, Cal’s interim athletic director and a member of the 18-person task force, confirmed that Dirks was spending his weekend reviewing the recommendations and that a final version of the report should be made public this week.

Williams said he isn’t sure which recommendations Dirks will accept, but said the report is more of a “strategic document” than a study of the recent past.

“It’s much more about where will we be 10 years from now than where we’ve been,” he said.

The panel’s theme focuses on “reintegrating student-athletes to the campus, making sure we have a more inclusive culture with the faculty and undergrads who are not student-athletes,” Williams said.

The task force, headed by anthropology professor and Cal grad Meg Conkey, included faculty, staff, alums and current students and came together after Cal’s football Academic Progress Rate scores in September 2013 ranked last in the Pac-12 and fifth-worst among schools from the five power conferences.

The football program’s 2013 graduation success rate, for students who entered school in the fall of 2006, was just 44 percent.

Dirks asked his task force for “bold” solutions, and Williams said the group devoted “literally thousands” of hours to exploring the issues. They spoke with campus CEOs, athletic directors and admissions officers at other universities, as well as staff, faculty and both current and past students at Cal.

“We focused on campus climate, what it means to be an undergraduate in the 21st century,” Williams said. “We tried to look at things in a thoughtful way for the betterment of our student-athletes.”

2

Football: Cal-Arizona game facts

Cal vs. Arizona

KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. at Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona.

TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 810-AM.

RECORDS: Cal 2-0, 0-0 in Pac-12; Arizona 3-0, 0-0 in Pac-12.

SERIES HISTORY: Arizona leads 15-14-2. Arizona won 33-28 in 2013.

STORYLINES: The competition ratchets up as the Bears open Pac-12 play against an Arizona squad that leads the conference in total offense (582.7 yards per game). Cal was winless in the Pac-12 a year ago, but played one of its best games in a five-point home loss to the Wildcats. . . . Cal’s defense will be tested by a dynamic UA attack featuring redshirt freshman QB Anu Solomon (No. 2 in the Pac-12 in total offense at 351.7 ypg) and true freshman RB Nick Wilson (No. 2 in rushing at 149.7 ypg). The Bears top the Pac-12 in rushing defense, surrendering just 112.5 yards per game. . . . Cal has lost its past three road games vs. Arizona, winless since a 38-0 victory in 2004. . . . Arizona will dress in all-white uniforms and Cal is expected to wear gold pants and jerseys.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: CB Darius White (shoulder) and Saf Avery Sebastian (quad) are probable; Arizona: OG Jacob Alsadek (foot) and and DT Sani Fuimaono (foot) are probable. WR Samajie Grant (concussion) and LB DeAndre Miller (shoulder) are questionable.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s running game vs. Arizona’s run defense. The Bears are averaging 184.5 rushing yards per game – sixth-best in the Pac-12 and a marked improvement over a year ago. But they still must show they can do it against a Pac-12 defense, and the Wildcats’ 3-3-5 alignment is allowing an average of just 116 rushing yards and 3.2 yards per carry. The Bears have gotten a boost from freshman quarterback Luke Rubenzer, who has come off the bench to provide 82 rushing yards in two games.

STATS THAT MATTER: Cal is playing its conference opener on the road for the seventh straight season. The Bears are 1-5 in the previous six. . . . QB Jared Goff passed for 290 yards and four TDs against the Wildcats last season. . . . Arizona has had a 100-yard rusher in 20 consecutive games, tied for the longest in FBS since 1996. . . . The Wildcats are among four teams nationally with at least 800 yards rushing and passing this season. . . . Twenty-one of 31 meetings between Cal and Arizona have been settled by eight points or fewer.

6

Football: Arizona game will be legitimate measuring stick for improving Golden Bears

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez believes it will be to Cal’s advantage that the Golden Bears had a week off before Saturday night’s Pac-12 opening clash in the desert.

Cal running back Daniel Lasco’s view on that is blinded by eager curiosity.

“Everybody’s waiting to see how we match up against some good competition,” he said after practice this week. “I’m so excited. I wish we didn’t have a bye week so we could just play them. But the time is now and it’s going to be fun.”

Certainly the game will provide a measuring stick for the Bears and their fans as to how far the program has progressed a year after going 1-11. Cal opened its season with an upset win at Northwestern, then crushed Sacramento State.

The outcome against the Wildcats (3-0) will be more telling.

“They’re a different team than Northwestern, a lot more explosive offensively. Tucson will be a lot different atmosphere,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “We’ll see how our guys respond.

“I’m anxious and excited to see how they’re going to play and handle the ups and downs.”

Universally picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North, Cal can elevate its public profile with a victory. A win also would scramble the Bears’ big-picture prospects, with games the next three weeks against Colorado, Washington State and Washington, none of them regarded as invincible.

Continue Reading

15

Football: Jeff Tedford’s last great recruiting class rises up for improving Cal defense

It was a play the Cal defense never would have made last season, but the Bears’ long-dormant recruiting Class of 2011 came to the rescue.

With the Bears leading 7-0 midway through the first quarter of their opener at Northwestern three weeks ago, the Wildcats’ Warren Long took a handoff into the line on fourth-and-1 from Cal’s 22, and was stuffed for no gain.

Defensive end Brennan Scarlett and safety Stefan McClure got credit for the tackle that helped propel the Bears to a 31-24 victory, but teammates point to tackle Mustafa Jalil, who shoved the Northwestern guard back into the ball carrier.

“He basically stopped the whole play,” linebacker Jalen Jefferson said.

Did the Bears ever make such a timely play on defense last year, when they allowed nearly 46 points per game and went 1-11? Of course, Jalil, Scarlett and McClure — all part of a heralded 2011 recruiting class — never were on the field together last fall.

Injuries dismantled the Bears, with Jalil, Scarlett, McClure, safety Avery Sebastian and linebacker Nathan Broussard — all potential starters — combining to play six games in 2013.

Two years earlier, those players arrived at Cal with big dreams, part of what Scout.com rated as the 16th-best recruiting class in the country. The class also included Jefferson and five-star defensive tackle Viliama Moala, who turned pro after his junior season last fall but went undrafted.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

6

Football: 2015 schedule announced

Cal will open the 2015 Pac-12 Conference schedule with a Sept. 26 game at Washington, the conference announced Tuesday night.

The Bears will play at Stanford in the Big Game on Nov. 21, then close the regular season with a Nov. 28 home game against Arizona State.

Their one non-Saturday game will be a Thursday, Oct. 22 matchup at UCLA.

Cal misses Colorado and Arizona on next season’s schedule.

Cal will open the 2015 season with home games against Grambling and San Diego State before its Sept. 19 matchup with Texas.

2015 CAL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Sept. 5 – Grambling at Cal

Sept. 12– San Diego State at Cal

Sept. 19 — Cal at Texas

Sept. 26 — Cal at Washington

Oct. 3 — Washington State at Cal

Oct. 10 — Cal at Utah

Oct. 17 — bye

Oct. 22 — Cal at UCLA

Oct. 31 — USC at Cal

Nov. 7 — Cal at Oregon

Nov. 14 — Oregon State at Cal

Nov. 21 — Cal at Stanford

Nov. 28 — Arizona State at Cal

Dec. 4 or 5 — Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium

 

0

Football: Bears say confidence preceded wins

When it comes to his Cal football team’s growing confidence, coach Sonny Dykes says the chicken arrived before the egg.

“I think it’s different, not because we won some games,” Dykes said of his team’s demeanor, “but we won some games because it’s different, if that makes sense.”

In other words, on the heels of a 1-11 season, Dykes saw good things coming, even before the Bears beat Northwestern 31-24 on the road in their opener.

“Our players have grown up, they’re more mature, they have more confidence, they’ve worked harder,” Dykes said. “All that stuff happened prior to us having some success. So honestly, they expected to have success.”

At 2-0 coming off their bye week, the Bears face their stiffest challenge yet on Saturday in Tucson, where they meet 3-0 Arizona in the Pac-12 Conference opener for both teams.

Quarterback Jared Goff said the vibe around the team was more positive all throughout fall camp, climaxing at Northwestern.

“We knew going into that game — obviously we weren’t making any guarantees — but we had a very strong feeling we were so prepared no one could beat us on that day,” Goff said.

“We just gained so much mental momentum, emotional momentum. When the win came, it reaffirmed that for us. We just feel great right now, going into this game as well.”

Click here to read the rest of this story.

1

Basketball: Pac-12 scheduled unveiled

Cal will open Pac-12 basketball play at home against Washington on Friday, Jan. 2, the conference announced Monday. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

The Bears’ two games against rival Stanford will be played on Wednesday, Jan. 14 at Haas Pavilion, and Saturday, Feb. 21 at Maples Pavilion.

Pac-12 favorite Arizona visits Cal on Saturday, Jan. 24, and the Bears visit the Wildcats on Thursday, March 5. Cal closes the Pac-12 regular season on Saturday, March 7 at Arizona State.

The Bears visit UCLA on Sunday, Jan. 11, and play host to the Bruins on Saturday, Feb. 7.

The Pac-12 tournament will again be held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, March 11-14.

Cal will skip its trip to Oregon and does not have home games this season against Colorado or Utah.

*****

2014-15 CAL BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Friday Oct. 31 Cal State East Bay% Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. No TV
Thursday Nov. 6 Cal State San Marcos% Haas Pavilion 7:30 p.m. Pac-12
Friday Nov. 14 Alcorn State# Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Nov. 16 Kennesaw State# Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Thursday Nov. 20 vs. Syracuse^ New York, N.Y. 6 p.m. ESPN2
Friday Nov. 21 vs. Iowa or Texas^ New York, N.Y. 2/4 p.m. ESPN2/U
Wednesday Nov. 26 Cal Poly Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Nov. 30 Fresno State Fresno, 3 p.m. CBSSN
Wednesday Dec. 3 Montana Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Dec. 7 Nevada Reno, Nev. 1 p.m. CBSSN
Wednesday Dec. 10 Wyoming Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. Pac-12
Saturday Dec. 13 Princeton Haas Pavilion 5:30 p.m. Pac-12
Friday Dec. 19 Eastern Washington Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Monday Dec. 22 Wisconsin Haas Pavilion 6 p.m. ESPN2
Sunday Dec. 28 CSU-Bakersfield Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Friday Jan. 2 Washington* Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Jan. 4 Washington State* Haas Pavilion 3 p.m. Pac-12
Wednesday Jan. 7 at USC* Los Angeles, 8 p.m. ESPNU
Sunday Jan.11 at UCLA* Los Angeles, 4:30 p.m. FS1
Wednesday Jan. 14 Stanford* Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. ESPNU
Thursday Jan. 22 Arizona State* Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. Pac-12
Saturday Jan. 24 Arizona* Haas Pavilion 7:30 p.m. Pac-12
Thursday Jan. 29 at Washington State* Pullman, Wash. 8 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Feb. 1 at Washington* Seattle, Noon Pac-12
Thursday Feb. 5 USC* Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. FS1
Saturday Feb. 7 UCLA* Haas Pavilion 5 p.m. Pac-12
Thursday Feb. 12 at Colorado* Boulder, Colo. 6 p.m. FS1
Sunday Feb. 15 at Utah* Salt Lake City, Utah 5:30 p.m. ESPNU
Saturday Feb. 21 at Stanford* Stanford, 3:30 p.m. Pac-12
Wednesday Feb. 25 Oregon* Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. ESPNU
Sunday March 1 Oregon State* Haas Pavilion Noon p.m. Pac-12
Thursday March 5 at Arizona* Tucson, Ariz. 6 p.m. ESPN/2
Saturday March 7 at Arizona State* Tempe, Ariz. 11:30 a.m. Pac-12
Wed.-Sat. March 11-14 Pac-12 Tournament Las Vegas, Nev. TBD P12/ESPN
Tues.-Wed. March 17-18 NCAA Tournament First Four Dayton, Ohio
Thurs.-Sun. March 19-22 NCAA Tournament 2nd & 3rd Rounds
Thurs.-Sun. March 26-29 NCAA Tournament Regionals
Sat., Mon. April 4, 6 NCAA Final Four Indianapolis, Ind.

% Exhibition

# 2K Classic regional games

^ 2K Classic semifinals and finals in New York City

* Pac-12 game

 

4

Basketball: New Cal coach Cuonzo Martin tries to make recruiting inroads with powerful Oakland Soldiers

The recruiting frenzy of mid-summer is behind them, but the job does not stop for new Cal basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and his staff.

“These guys are working, working, working,” said Frank Knight, the coach at Moreau Catholic High in Hayward. “Their thing is they don’t want to let any more local kids leave.”

Two years ago it was Oakland’s Brandon Ashley who left. Last year, it was San Jose’s Aaron Gordon. Both five-star prospects signed with Arizona. Both played for the Oakland Soldiers, one of the top AAU traveling basketball teams in the U.S.

If Martin wants to elevate Cal’s position in the college basketball world, recruiting analyst Josh Gershon of scout.com said the Bears will have to begin attracting the best home-grown talent. That means attracting Soldiers.

“The bottom line at Cal is you can have a good program without doing a great (recruiting) job in the Bay Area,” Gershon said. “But you’re never going to have much more than a good program. You have to keep the local kids at home.”

Click here to read the rest of this story.