DeSean Jackson’s punt return for a touchdown was a great example of what separates good teams from bad ones. Of course, the play was created by a tremendous block by Cal’s Thomas DeCoud, whose main responsibility on the play was trying to block the punt. DeCoud realized he couldn’t get to the punter, and therefore turned back up field and ran as hard as he could to help out Jackson. As it turned out, his crushing cleared the way for Jackson. It was strictly a hustle play made by a player who wants his team to win a championship. On a team that doesn’t have the same aspirations, perhaps a player in a similar position doesn’t run so far and so hard.

UCLA led the nation in third down conversion defense at 23.4 percent. CAl converted on six of nine. Jeff Tedford said he was very proud of that statistic.

Cal special teams coach Pete Alamar said that DeSean Jackson is great at “setting the net” at the beginning of a punt return. His fakes get the defenders caught in the net, or Cal’s blocking wall.

After the game, many of Cal’s players got back to the locker room and immediately watched reruns of DeCoud’s block, which was ready to play by the time they got there.

Lost in all the big plays was a 60-yard rushing day by Justin Forsett, who looked good running up the middle. That ability will be important next season when Lynch is gone.

Daymeion Hughes led the team in tackles with 10. That’s pretty unusual for a cornerback. Desmond Bishop and rover Bernard Hicks both had eight tackles. Syd Thompson had seven tackles.

True freshman Tyson Alualu had a solid game with six tackles. We might be seeing a lot more of him.

I was somewhat surprised the crowd wasn’t better. The student side was rocking as always while it appeared there was a “They’ve got things under control and don’t need our help” feeling prevailing on the other side. Perhaps the Oregon game was a one-game deal.


Here come the Bruins

UCLA brings its high-powered defensive line into Berkeley with the hope of shutting down Marshawn Lynch along with beating up quarterback Nate Longshore. Defensive ends Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis are at the top of the Pac-10 sack list and defensive tackle Kevin Brown is a load. That being said, I would expect Cal’s passing game to break out on Saturday. The Bears’ offensive line has shown that it can handle a big time rush, and considering the Bruins will load up against the running attack, we probably will see a lot of short passes to loosen things up.

Wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins probably won’t play due to a sprained ankle, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see junior Sam DeSa have a big game. DeSa has been through a lot lately, losing his dad, and I know that everyone in his family and his extended family (the team) is pulling for him. Keep an eye on No. 86.

Cal’s passing game looked very sharp in practice this week and it might be noted that DeSean Jackson hasn’t scored in a couple of games. He is due. Look for a big game from him as well.

Saturday’s story in the Contra Costa Times will deal with special teams since last year’s game was such a nightmare. Of all the coaches on Jeff Tedford’s staff, Pete Alamar has drawn the most criticism. But look at these numbers

Punting Andrew Larson No. 21 in nation at 42.69.
Punt returns DeSean Jackson No. 11 at 14.29.
Punt returns as a team, Cal No. 21 at 13.37
Kickoff returns, Cal third in Pac-10 at 21.9.
Net punting, Cal first in Pac-10 at 38.8
Punt return average, Cal second in Pac-10, 13.37.
Field goals, Cal 7 of 8
Extra Points, Cal 36 of 36


Back to business

Well, it’s back to business. We have been having some technical trouble, so I hope I haven’t lost you.

Clearing up some old business, here is the 2006 Cal football confetti cake recipe as written by Naomi Follett.

Plus a note from her :o)

Jay, I’ve thought long and hard about publishing my family’s secret
recipe on your blog. It has been in the family for generations and to
divulge it to the general “Jay Heater” public may compromise its
However, that being said, you have been so kind with your comments of
I’ve decided to share this ancient family secret recipe only with your
readers. So here tis:

Betty Crocker Super Moist Party
Chip Cake Mix (follow package directions)
Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy
Chip Frosting (follow package directions)

Naomi Follett

Now that woman has a sense of humor.

Just about every player I talked to this week said practice on Sunday was Cal’s best of the year. The Bears are feeling fresh and ready for the four-game sprint to the end of the season. This is a confident and excited group of players.

Cal’s offensive players said over and over that UCLA has the most improved defense in the Pac-10 this season. Bruins defensive ends Justin Hickman (10.5 sacks) and Bruce Davis (8.5 sacks) lead the way. UCLA has the best rush defense in the conference. It will be very interesting to see if the Bruins load up to stop Marshawn Lynch. If that happens, Cal’s wide receivers could have a big day on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

It hasn’t rained on game day since they tore down the old press box at Memorial Stadium and I was a little worried that it would rain on Saturday. However, a revised forecast says no rain. That’s great since press row is basically outdoors. I would imagine that it will be damp and cold on Saturday, so I will have to put a sweater on my laptop.

Keep an eye on Nu’u Tafisi on Saturday. If he is back to full health, I would expect him to have a huge game and perhaps get a hit that produces an interception. Nu’u is a difference maker when at full strength.

If Cal wins out, I would think that Daymeion Hughes has a shot at winning the Lott Trophy that goes to college football’s defensive player of the year. Perhaps there should be a Hughes for Lott Trophy web site :o).

I wrote on Wednesday about Nate Longshore and the loss of his father last spring. It was a very personal topic and, as a writer, it is very hard to intrude on such a personal subject. The Longshore family was more than kind in dealing with a painful subject and I appreciate their willingness to speak with me. I do, at times, like to show to the public that there is so much more to young men playing football than football. To be able to focus in the face of tremendous adversity is so impressive to me, and I hope Cal fans or readers can appreciate the labor of love that goes into becoming a top notch football player and person. To see the way a football team rallies as a family in tough times is impressive. Unfortunately, the media can concentrate on the negative acts. I hope this came across as a reflection of a different nature.