Football: Post-game notes

A few post-game updates and statistical notes:

— Sophomore Jacob Wark joins a growing list of Cal tight ends with lower-body injuries. He hurt a foot in the fourth quarter and did not return. No immediate report on his status. Would-be starter Richard Rodgers (foot) did not play at all . . . until Wark left the game. Then he was out there for one series.

— As expected, the news on TE Spencer Hagan is not good. The junior sustained what is apparently a serious right knee injury at Ohio State. “Hagan won’t be back,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “His knee is shot. He won’t be back this year.”

— Redshirt freshman Daniel Lasco, blasted up around the head on a second-quarter punt coverage play, did not return. Tedford did not know whether the running back sustained a concussion.

— Without senior tackle Matt Summers-Gavin (knee) for a third straight game, Cal’s offensive line was badly outplayed. The Bears netted just 77 rushing yards (a week after gaining 224 on the ground at Ohio State) and QB Zach Maynard was sacked seven times. That’s 13 sacks in two games.

— No miracles from sophomore TB Brendan Bigelow, who included TD runs of 81 and 59 yards in his 160-yard performance at Ohio State. Of course, Bigelow got just four carries (none in the first half) and gained 31 yards — 7.8 per attempt. Tedford was vague on why Bigelow wasn’t a bigger part of the game plan after suggesting earlier in the week he had earned it.

— The Bears were no match for the Trojans at the line of scrimmage on the other side of the ball, either. USC, which was averaging 130 rushing yards per game, had 296, including 158 by Penn State transfer Silas Redd and 115 from Curtis McNeal.

— Cal PK Vincenzo D’Amato, after missing three field goals wide left at Ohio State, was wide right on his first try at the Coliseum. Then he made three short ones to account for all of Cal’s points.

— WR Keenan Allen had nine catches for  93 yards and moved to No. 4 on the Bears’ career receptions list with 173. He passed Na’il Benjamin (165) and Brian Treggs (167), the father of freshman teammate Bryce Treggs.


Football: USC game thread

FINAL SCORE: USC 27, Cal 9. Sorry for the second-half absence. Had wireless problems at the LA Coliseum, then deadline. My game story.

The Bears (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) lose their ninth in a row to USC. They’ve been outscored 152-38 in the past five, and have not beaten the Trojans in LA since 2000.

Obviously, the two-weekend road trip from hell was a black hole for Cal. At least they were competitive at Ohio State. USC dominated the line on both sides of the ball, stuffed Cal’s run, sacked Zach Maynard seven times and unleashed their own two-headed ground game that accounted for 296 rushing yards.

To a man, the Bears still maintain they can recover and qualify for a bowl game. Of course, what else would you expect them to say about just four games?

The fact is, only one team in Cal history — Jeff Tedford’s second team in 2003 — has rebounded from a 1-3 start to reach a bowl. Only one other team (1970) overcame 1-3 to finish with a winning record.

The problem is not merely math — although having to win five of their final eight won’t be easy.

The problem is that several of the teams still ahead on their schedule — Oregon State, Arizona State and UCLA — are better than we might have guessed a month ago. Then there are Oregon and Stanford, both very troublesome.

Not sure yet what to make of Washington, but at least the Huskies are playing at Berkeley. Cal must go on the road to play Utah and Washington State.

Point is, remove Oregon and Stanford (as likely losses) and the Bears must win win five of the remaining six. And most of those are toss-up games, at best.

A tall order.

Continue Reading


Football: Week 4 picks — go with the home team

The Pac-12 schedule gets under way in earnest with five conference games on the Saturday calendar. We’ll go with all five home teams, although I’m not sure the outcome would be different in most of them if the locations were flip-flopped.

So, with a tip of the hat to USC coach Lane Kiffin and his 28-second news conference this week, we will dispense with wordiness and get right to the picks.

SEASON: 24-9


— Oregon State at No. 19 UCLA, 12:30 p.m. (ABC/ESPN2): The Beavers (1-0) were impressive in their upset of Wisconsin, but they’ve played just once so far and haven’t ventured away from home. The Bruins (3-0), one of the league’s biggest surprises, are averaging 40.7 points and a conference-best 622 yards per game. That’s too much for the Beavers. UCLA 27, Oregon State 17.

— Colorado at Washington State, 1 p.m. (FX): The Cougars (2-1) are very much a work in progress and new coach Mike Leach said this week he would invent fiction rather than disclose injuries to the media/public/gamblers/opposing team. We’re assuming he cannot have enough guys hurt to lose to the Buffaloes (0-3), who rank 112th nationally in scoring defense (40.3 ppg) and still won’t have played anyone good after this weekend. Washington State 35, Colorado 13.

— Cal at No. 13 USC, 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks): The Bears (1-2) did lots right on the road against Ohio State, but couldn’t finish the job. They say they are ready to eliminate the decisive mistakes, but USC (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) will be just as motivated after a stumble at Stanford. Plus, Cal hasn’t won in L.A. since Brendan Bigelow was a second-grader. USC 27, Cal 20.

— Utah at Arizona State, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks): The Utes (2-1) showed some guts with a win over in-state rival BYU just days after a shoulder injury forced quarterback Jordan Wynn to retire. But ASU (2-1) has more offense and perhaps just as good a defense. Arizona State 28, Utah 22.

— No. 22 Arizona at No. 3 Oregon, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN): Rich Rodriguez’s Wildcats (3-0) are an offensive revelation, averaging 46.3 points and 604.7 yards per game. And if they try to engage the Ducks (3-0) in a shootout, they’re in trouble. Oregon ranks just 10th in the Pac-12 in time of possession but it doesn’t matter because the Ducks score a point an average of every 30 seconds they’re on offense. Oregon 49, Arizona 21.


Football: MSG a CLASS award nominee

Cal senior tackle Matt Summers-Gavin is one of 30 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, given annually to an NCAA Division I FBS senior who excels in community, classroom, character and competition.

Summers-Gavin has played in 33 games with 26 starts at  tackle during his Cal career. He also is on the watch list for the Outland Trophy given to college football’s top interior lineman on either side of the ball.

Summers-Gavin is coming off a 2011 campaign in which he earned honorable mention all-Pac-12 honors from the league’s coaches. He graduated in May of 2012 with a 3.268 GPA and is taking what is called a reduced course load to be eligible to play football as a fifth-year senior in 2012. Summers-Gavin is a three-time Pac-10/12 All-Academic selection


Football: Thursday post-practice notes

A few updates following Thursday’s practice:

— Offensive tackle Matt Summers-Gavin, who has missed the past two games with a sprained knee, practiced again Thursday morning in preparation for Saturday’s game at USC. “He’s looking fine . . . he may play,” coach Jeff Tedford said. If not, Bill Tyndall will handle the assignment once more.

— Starting tight end Richard Rodgers, who sat out the Ohio State game with a foot injury, will travel and “may play,” Tedford said.

— Backup tight end Spencer Hagan still has not had an MRI on his right knee after injuring it Saturday at USC. Coach Jeff Tedford said the swelling still needs to reduce. Hagan is out this week and could be sidelined long-term.

— Defensive end Mustafa Jalil (knee), who has seen limited action the past two games but has yet to record a tackle this season, should play. “Mustafa hopefully will be close to 100 percent,” defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said. “We’re anxious to get him out there.”

— Center Brian Schwenke, who consistently delivered low shotgun snaps to Zach Maynard last week, addressed the problem in practice. “We’ve worked hard on them and they’ve been good all week,” Tedford said.

— Placekicker Vincenzo D’Amato has retained his starting job, despite missing all three of his field goal tries last week. : “Today I didn’t see him miss one. Left hash, right hash . . . everything was good,” Tedford said.

— Safety Alex Logan, out of position on Ohio State’s late-game touchdown pass, is expected to start. “It’s Logan right now, but (Michael) Lowe can play there, too,” Tedford said. “We worked hard with Alex this week, but Lowe has a chance to play there also.”

— Tedford said he was very pleased with the play of first-time starting inside linebackers Jalen Jefferson and Nick Forbes at Ohio State.

— Linebacker Khairi Fortt, the Penn State transfer who still has not played after undergoing knee surgery last spring before arriving at Cal, is moving closer to possibly being redshirted. “There’s a lot of football left,” Tedford said. “If we’re at the halfway point we’d have to consider it.”

— The Bears won’t fly to Los Angeles until Friday evening, going through their walk-through at home because the L.A. Coliseum is not available for opposing teams on the day before the game.


Football: Bears determined to find a place in backfield logjam for sophomore Brendan Bigelow

Ron Gould, who has coached Cal’s running backs for 16 years, said the first player that came to mind when he initially saw Brendan Bigelow run the ball was Jahvid Best.

After watching Bigelow’s double-spin, 81-yard touchdown run against Ohio State, Gould called it one of the greatest runs by a Cal back ever.

Here’s more on how the Bears intend to fit Bigelow into the backfield mix that also includes Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson.

Cal’s 10 best single-game rushing performances since 2008:
1. Jahvid Best:  19 carries for 311 yards,  TDs vs. Washington,  Dec. 6, 2008
2. Jahvid Best:  19-201-2  vs. Stanford,   Nov. 22, 2008
3. Jahvid Best: 14-200-3  vs. Washington St., Sept. 6, 2008
4. Shane Vereen: 19-198-3  vs. Nevada,  Sept. 17, 2010
5t. Isi Sofele: 23-193-1  vs. Oregon St.,  Nov. 12, 2011
5t. Shane Vereen: 42-193-3, Stanford,  Nov. 11, 2009
7. Jahvid Best: 20-186-2,  vs. Miami, Dec. 27, 2008
8. Brendan Bigelow: 4-160-2 vs. Ohio St.,  Sept. 15, 2012
9. Jahvid Best: 13-159-2 vs. Washington St., Oct, 24, 2009
10. Shane Vereen: 17-154-1 vs. UCLA, Oct. 17, 2009

    Note: Best’s 311 yards vs. Washington is a single-game Cal record.