Matt Summers-Gavin is 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, and for three weeks this fall he felt helpless.
“It’s been rough not to be out there to be able to contribute,” said Cal’s senior right tackle, sidelined for three games by a knee injury.
“You want to be in there and do anything you can to help your team be successful. It’s rough just standing there watching.”
Especially as his team lost three in a row.
Summers-Gavin, regarded as the Bears’ top offensive lineman, returned a week ago to face Arizona State but expects to be more himself on Saturday night against UCLA.
“I’d say I was rusty, definitely not where I wanted to be. Execution-wise I think I could have been a lot better,” he said of his return performance against ASU. “But it was great to be back on the field.”
Jim Michalczik, Cal’s offensive coordinator and O-line coach, echoed those mixed reviews.
“I was happy that he got back in and played, but you could tell it had been some time,” Michalczik said Thursday. “He’s better now than he was a week ago.”
Things will be better, Summers-Gavin said, only when the Bears start winning. At 1-4 entering Saturday’s game, they were off to the worst start in coach Jeff Tedford’s 11 seasons.
Summers-Gavin called the UCLA game the team’s game of the season.
“It starts with not thinking `woe is me’ and all this,” he said. “You have to think about how you’re going t get better with each opportunity you’re given.”
There has been plenty of room for improvement on the offensive line, which allowed an NCAA-worst 25 sacks through five games.
“I’m definitely not pleased with it at all,” Summers-Gavin said. “You just have to get it right.”
– The Bears still are hoping that senior offensive guard Dominic Galas, sidelined all season so far with a torn pectoral muscle, will return at some point.
Galas, who started at center last season, began contact drills last week.
“He’s ahead of schedule . . . starting to progress into things,” coach Jeff Tedford said.
Michalczik said Galas brings an aggressive attitude the line needs.
“You miss Dom Galas just because of the bulldog he is,” Michalczik said. “He’s getting better, but he’s obviously not ready.”
– Cal junior wide receiver Keenan Allen entered Saturday’s game with 177 career catches, ranking him fourth on the program’s all-time list. Allen needed four catches to pass Bobby Shaw for third place, and was just 25 receptions shy of Geoff McArthur’s record of 202.
– Frank Bigelow was at his job as a technician for a printing firm three weeks ago when son Brendan Bigelow had his big day at Ohio State.
“I was listening to it on the radio. I didn’t know he was even going to get into game,” Frank Bigelow said. “I had walked away and was just coming back to the radio when I heard `Bigelow.’ Then I heard `touchdown.’ ”
When he finally pieced together what had happened, Frank Bigelow unleashed a spontaneous celebration of his son’s 81-yard TD dash.
“I’m here screaming at work,” he said, “and everybody’s looking at me like I’m crazy.”
– Entering play Saturday, Bigelow was among just 22 running backs across the nation with two touchdown runs of at least 50 yards — despite having just 10 rush attempts. The other 21 backs had carried the ball an average of 58 times this season.
“Bigelow has that it factor,” quarterback Zach Maynard said. “He gets to that second level and he’s gone.”
– Sophomore safety Avery Sebastian started his second straight game Saturday after a memorable starting debut against Arizona State in which he totaled 15 tackles.
“He played really well,” Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said. “He’s a very instinctive guy . . . and he’s been diligent trying to learn the defense.
“That didn’t surprise me the way he played. There’s some guys who can do it in practice and don’t really do it in the game — he showed he can do it in practice and in the game. I’m excited about his progress.”
– The Cal-UCLA game is the annual Joe Roth Memorial Game, honoring the former All-America quarterback who died of cancer in February 1977, just months after his senior season. Roth led Cal to a Pac-8 co-title in 1975. His jersey No. 12 is the Bears’ only retired number.
– Former Cal football player and Marines 1st Lt. Garrett Cross, will be honored during Saturday night’s game. Cross played for the Bears in 2003 and ’04 and was on Cal’s rugby team in 2007. An infantry officer with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines in Camp Pendleton, Cross recently returned from a deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
– Also being honored Saturday are the Flying Golden Bears, a group of Cal alums who flew during World War II.
– Cal’s Homecoming weekend will conclude Sunday with a Memorial Stadium open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Visitors may enter through the north tunnel and take a self-guided tour, including all three club levels and the Hall of Fame room on the west side. Docents will be available to answer questions.