As of Monday night, Cal had no update on the status of injured defensive linemen Matt Malele and Rulon Davis. Each player had MRIs on Monday, but the results were unavailable. It’s still expected both will be out for awhile. A more definitive update should come Tuesday.
Word just came in that the Cal-Oregon game on Sept. 29 will begin at 12:30 p.m. and be televised by ABC.
I’m sure I’m not providing any breaking news here, but Cal has jumped two more spots in the Associated Press top 25 and now is ranked No. 6 in the country. For the third straight week, the Bears leapfrogged over a team that had also won. In fact, they skipped over two teams _ Texas and Wisconsin. The Longhorns got a scare from Central Florida before prevailing 35-32 and the Badgers had a tougher time than expected putting away The Citadel, 45-31.
Cal’s ranking is its highest since it was ranked No. 4 at the end of the 2004 regular season. The Bears remained at No. 8 in the USA Today rankings.
UCLA fell from No. 11 all the way out of the AP poll after its messy 44-6 loss at Utah. Oregon jumped from 19th to 13th.
One other note: Not only did Tennessee drop out of the AP Top 25 after its loss to Florida, it didn’t receive a single vote. That, of course, is not good news for Cal.
I’m wondering how everyone felt about the Louisiana Tech game. Obviously, you can’t argue with the final result. A 30-point win in college football is an accomplishment, period. But for the sake of analysis, I just thought it was kind of a strange game to evaluate.
One thing is for certain: The offensive line continues to do the job. Yes, there were a few false start penalties, but the line provided running room for Justin Forsett and gave quarterback Nate Longshore time to throw. Cal’s O-line has been a strength all season so far.
As a matter of fact, it seems eveyone on Cal’s offense knows how to block. So much is said about the quality of the Bears’ receivers, and usually that’s not even taking blocking into consideration. But these guys do a good job blocking. If you watch the replay of Forsett’s 39-yard touchdown run, you’ll see Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan throwing key blocks down field. And Forsett himself threw a terrific block to get Jahvid Best into the end zone on his 16-yard touchdown catch.
I don’t think there’s any question that Longshore didn’t have one of his better games. Sure, his numbers were respectable: 22-for-33 for 230 yards and two touchdowns and his first interception of the season. But for the second straight game, he missed a handful of open receivers. There’s no question the Bears need Longshore to be at his best when they play tougher opponents.
It was kind of hard to evaulate the defense because of the personnel defensive coordinator Bob Gregory was forced to use. Injuries to defensive lineman Matt Malele and Rulon Davis and linebacker Zack Follett, along with the fast pace of Louisiana Tech’s no-huddle offense, resulted in the Bears using a lot of players on defense. There were times when the Bulldogs moved the ball well against Cal, but as seems to be the Bears’ identity, they would come up with big plays or a turnover when they had to. So far, Cal’s defense generally has balanced a tendency to allow sustained drives with the ability to force turnovers.
Jeff Tedford didn’t have a whole lot of information regarding the injuries to Matt Malele and Rulon Davis following Saturday’s win, but the general sense was that it wasn’t good. Cal won’t have any definitive answers until Monday, but it’s pretty apparent that the general sense was accurate.
Both Malele and Davis were on crutches during Sunday’s light conditioning practice. Tedford said each player will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the exact extent of the injury. But defensive coordinator Bob Gregory told me that as of now he is “planning around” the absence of Malele and Davis.
At the very least, the hunch is both players will be out weeks, not days. Davis is believed to have a stress fracture in his foot. Malele may have torn the plantar fascia tendon in his foot, an injury that can sometimes take a long time to heal.
They are both significant losses, obviously. As the only returning starter on the defensive line, Malele provided a wealth of leadership and experience up front. I’ve had multiple players tell me how much more of a leader Malele has been this season.
Davis was really coming into his own. It seemed the light bulb really clicked on for him after Cal’s first intrasquad scrimmage of training camp and he’s been a force ever since. A tremendous physical specimen, you could see his confidence growing each week. Both guys will be hard to replace.
Mika Kane likely will reclaim his starting role to replace Malele. Kane started the season-opener but sustained a concussion that kept him out of the Colorado State game. He came off the bench and played late against Louisiana Tech. Cody Jones, who had replaced Kane, will stay inside next to Kane.
As far as replacing Davis, it will probably be Tad Smith, although Cameron Jordan should get a lot of snaps, too. Derrick Hill also figures to spell Kane and Jones often on the inside of the line.
Tedford also didn’t have any definitive update on linebacker Zack Follett, who missed most of Saturday’s game with a neck stinger. Tedford said Follett is day-to-day, although he’s unlikely to practice Tuesday (the players are off on Mondays).
Don’t know if they’ve said it on the telecast yet, but the initial report on Matt Malele is an injury to his foot.
Cal is on pace to score a lot of points, but that’s not necessarily because its offense is overpowering Louisiana Tech. It took some big plays by the defense to give the Bears good field position, and they capitalized.
Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory has been using a lot of reserves. Linebackers Justin Moye, Michael Mohammed and Eddie Young have seen several snaps, and there’s been a lot of turnover on the defensive line.
Linebacker Zack Follett didn’t play on the last few possessions of the first half, and I’m not sure why. He doesn’t appear to be injured.
Freshman defensive lineman Derrick Hill has been showing off his speed with a couple of fierice pass rushes. Safety Marcus Ezeff had a good first half with some solid tackling.
This one obviously hasn’t been an artistic success. The Bears have committed six penalties for 50 yards and quarterback Nate Longshore has generally been of the mark, although he redeemed himself a bit with his touchdown pass to Craig Stevens near the end of the first half.
Lavelle Hawkins 90-yard kick return for a touchdown was the first time a Cal player has returned the game’s opening kickoff for a score since Deltha O’Neal had a 100-yard return against Navy in the 1996 Aloha Bowl.
That kick return by Lavelle Hawkins was Cal’s first to go the distance since LaShaun Ward in 2002 (94 yards vs. Arizona).
The clock is at 6:00 to go before the opening kick. There are a handful of sections that have just scattered fans. Obviously, this won’t be close to a sellout, but the crowd still is making some good noise during pregame.
No surprise here, but kicker Tom Schneider isn’t suited up. He will miss his third straight game because of a pulled quad. Jordan Kay will once again do the kicking. Also just received word that Louisiana Tech starting right guard Bill Jones won’t play. Don’t have word on why.
Cal captains for today: Wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins, tight end Craig Stevens, free safety Thomas DeCoud and linebacker Justin Moye.
Cal just won the coin toss and will receive the opening kick.