3

Football: Lynch, Seahawks rout Rodgers, Pack

Ex-Cal star Marshawn Lynch rushed 20 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns and the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks opened the NFL schedule with a decisive 36-16 win over the visiting Green Bay Packers.

Aaron Rodgers was sacked three times and intercepted once for the Packers. The former Cal star was 23 for 33 for 189 yards with a touchdown.

5

Football: Wilfley breaks finger, to miss Sac St

Backup defensive end Harrison Wilfley broke a finger in practice this week, had surgery Thursday morning and miss Saturday’s home opener against Sacramento State, coach Sonny Dykes announced after Thursday’s practice.

The Bears have a bye next week and Wilfley could be ready to play Sept. 20 at Arizona, Dykes said.

Defensive backs Avery Sebastian (quad) and Darius White (shoulder), who missed the opener at Northwestern, remain iffy to see action Saturday.

“They’re still a little behind in terms of reps,” Dykes said. “We’ll kind of see how many snaps the other guys play.”

*****

Cal announced that senior Donovan Frazier has been placed on scholarship. A 6-foot-3, 285-pounder from Alhambra High and Laney College is a third-string offensive guard for the Bears.

0

Basketball: Alcorn St is opening foe in 2K Classic

Alcorn State will visit Haas Pavilion for a Friday, Nov. 14 game that will serve as Cal’s season opener and its first game of the 2K Sports Classic.

Kennesaw State visits on Sunday, Nov. 16 in a second-round game.

Regardless of how the Bears fare in their first two games, they will advance to New York’s Madison Square Garden for games Nov. 20 against Syracuse and Nov. 21 against either Texas or Iowa.

0

Football: Rubenzer’s strong camp forced coaches’ hand

Cal coach Sonny Dykes and his staff entered fall camp without a clear idea of how they might use freshman quarterback Luke Rubenzer.

So Rubenzer made the decision for them.

After the Scottsdale, Arizona, native practiced at a “pretty high level” the first week, Dykes waited for him to become physically or mentally overloaded. He waited for Rubenzer to slam into the “freshman wall.”

“He just kept getting better,” Dykes recalled. “During that period of time, when guys normally take a step back, he took a step forward.”

So Rubenzer did more than win the backup quarterback job. He convinced the coaches they had to find a way for him to contribute now.

On Saturday at Northwestern, in a move that surprised the Wildcats, Rubenzer came off the bench repeatedly to provide the Bears a running quarterback counterpunch to starter Jared Goff’s throwing prowess.

He was the game’s leading ground gainer with 48 rushing yards on 11 attempts, and three times negotiated first downs. The last of those, inside the final minute, came on a mis-executed play and clinched Cal’s 31-24 victory.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

And click here to see what kind of grade colleague Jon Wilner gave the Bears for their win at Northwestern.

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Football: Dykes reviews Northwestern victory

Here are a few highlights from Sunday evening’s media teleconference with Sonny Dykes:

 * Dykes’ overall impression of his team’s preparation and performance in its 31-24 win at Northwestern:

“I thought the guys had really prepared well. I thought we had a good camp. The focus over the 10 or 11 days we spent preparing for Northwestern was really good. It was what you want and it got better every day. I thought it showed, particularly early in the game. Guys were really locked in.

“Then we had a little success and quite frankly we might have lost a little of our focus at times. That’s unfortunately what young teams have a tendency to do. We had some opportunities in the second quarter to put the game away offensively and didn’t get it done when we had some good field-position opportunities.

“But the guys never panicked when they (Northwestern) got back in the game. I never got the sense that we lost control. Sometimes you feel that on the sidelines. I never felt that. They were excited after we won the ball game, but I think they realized there is a lot of improvement that needs to be made.”

* On being unable to put away Northwestern after mounting an early, big lead:

“We’ve got to learn how to have a killer instinct when we get a lead on somebody. We don’t have a lot of experience with that.

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18

Football: Sunday morning reactions

Wow, after the first weekend of Pac-12 games, it’s tempting to revise our view of where Cal fits into the picture.

Washington State loses in Seattle to a mediocre Rutgers team that traveled 3,000 miles. Colorado loses to in-state rival Colorado State. Washington opens the Chris Petersen era with a 17-16 win at Hawaii, which was 1-11 a year ago. Oregon State is hardly overwhelming against Portland State.

Suddenly, you look at Cal’s schedule and there are more potential wins than we initially envisioned.

But I think it’s worth slowing down and letting this thing proceed at a reasonable pace.

Sure, the Bears’ 31-24 win at Northwestern was a significant breakthrough. It also was a flawed victory, exposing much that must improve.

Here’s what I liked:

– Jared Goff played very well for most of the game. He threw three touchdowns, including a beautiful 76-yarder to Trevor Davis on a play where he got the safety to bite to nicely faking a dump-off to the left flat. His one interception was on a ball off the hands of Daniel Lasco. (And Goff never again has to face NU linebacker Collin Ellis, who has intercepted him three times in two seasons).

– The change of pace with freshman quarterback Luke Rubenzer caught the Wildcats off guard and was very effective. He was the best running threat on either team. Rubenzer was quick and decisive and seemed not the least bit nervous.

– The defense was light years better than a year ago. All you need to remember is Cal surrendered 335 first-half points a year ago, and held Northwestern to seven through two quarters. The Bears made a couple big stops to turn back NU drives and Jalen Jefferson made the play of the day with his late-game INT. Do you really believe last year’s defense would have figured out a way to turn back the opposition in the fourth quarter as the Bears did Saturday.

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Football: Cal-Northwesten game thread

FINAL SCORE: Cal 31, Northwestern 24. OK, you may now exhale.

Click here to read my game story. And my notebook, focusing on freshman Luke Rubenzer.

END OF 3RD QUARTER: Cal 31, Northwestern 21. Well, at 31-7 it looked like the only way the Bears could lose this game was by giving NU some help. And they did just that, when Goff’s pass went off the hands of Lasco and was picked off by LB Collin Ellis. You remember him, right? He had two INTs for TDs against the Bears last year. The Wildcats cashed in on the next play with a nice trick play: QB Trevor Siemian throws a lateral pass to WR Jayme Taylor, who then throws back to Siemian for the TD. That got the Wildcats within 10 points with 2:06 left in the 3rd Q. Cal has responded nicely so far, moving from its own 12 to the NU35, where it will have a first-and-10 when the fourth quarter begins.

HALFTIME: Cal 24, Northwestern 7. Goff was 12 for 18 for 186 yards with three TDs, one each to Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler and Trevor Davis. Cal has a 270-153 edge in total yards, a 14-7 edge in first downs. Hasn’t all been perfect: Cal’s four running backs have combined for 47 yards on 12 carries, just under 4 yards per. Rubenzer ran 9 times for 38 yards, but hasn’t played since being picked off on a pass he should have thrown out of bounds. Cal has held the lead for 23 minutes, 42 seconds — 14 minutes longer than the Bears were ahead of FBS teams all last season. Just one penalty vs. Cal — 5 yards for offsides on a kickoff. And the defense? Cal gave up a staggering 335 points in the first half a year ago, but allowed the Wildcats just one score in six possessions.

END OF 1ST QUARTER: Cal 14, Northwestern 0. Yep, it’s true. Goff threw TD passes of 1 yard to Bryce Treggs and 7 yards to Kenny Lawler and the defense got a stop on a fourth-and-one at its own 22 to snuff NU’s only possession of the game. The revelation has been the contributions of freshman QB Luke Rubenzer, on the field for at least 10 plays. He has run the ball eight times for 36 yards and completed 1 of 2 passes for 9 yards.

*****

Greetings from Ryan Field at Evanston, Ill.

It’s warm, humid, with scattered clouds. But the locals don’t think it will rain. We’ll see.

Will provide periodic updates all afternoon. Or follow me on Twitter at @JeffFaraudo

BTW: All present and accounted for on the Cal roster. DBs Darius White (shoulder) and Avery Sebastian (quad) both dressed and warming up, although still not convinced either will play.

 

8

Football: Cal-Northwestern facts

CAL AT NORTHWESTERN

KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. at Ryan Field, Evanston, Illinois.

2013 RECORDS: Cal 1-11, 0-9 in Pac-12; Northwestern 5-7, 1-7 in Big Ten.

SERIES HISTORY: Northwestern leads 2-0, including a 44-30 win at Berkeley in 2013. The Wildcats also beat Cal 20-14 on Jan. 1, 1948 in the Rose Bowl.

STORYLINES: Both teams are eager to demonstrate they are much improved after disappointing performances a year ago. Sonny Dykes suffered through the worst debut season of any Cal coach in history, but the Wildcats were only marginally better. They lost their first seven conference games and their five wins came over teams who scored a total of 11 wins over FBS teams last season. They averaged 40.2 points in the wins, 16.0 in their defeats. … For Cal, improvement is expected everywhere, but especially with a defense that allowed 45.9 points per game and on offense in the red-zone, where the Bears converted just 21 of 43 chances for touchdowns.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: MLB Nathan Broussard (knee), Saf Quentin Tartabull (knee) and RB Jeffrey Coprich (foot) are out; CB Darius White (shoulder) and Saf Avery Sebastian (quad) are questionable; Northwestern: WR Christian Jones (knee) and DT Sean McEvilly (foot) are out.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s offensive line vs. Northwestern’s defensive front. The Bears have been working and talking about running the ball since last season ended. Now we find out if it clicks. The Bears believe they have gotten tougher and stronger. That will be tested against a front four that averages better than 6-foot-4, 289 pounds per man. The Bears netted just 93 rushing yards vs. NU last year, forcing them to throw a school-record 64 passes.

STATS THAT MATTER: Cal’s 14-game losing streak to FBS opponents is twice as long as the next-worst drought in school history. … The Wildcats boast a 16-game home win streak vs. nonconference opponents. … NU is 8-0 in opening games under coach Pat Fitzgerald. … Cal gave up 551 points last season, more than the Bears allowed in 97 games over 10 seasons under coach Andy Smith (1916-25). … Cal has just three starters returning on defense from this game a year ago.

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Football: Bears’ revamped defense in 1st test

After nine months of reinvention in the wake of the worst defensive season in Cal football history, the Golden Bears reboot Saturday at Northwestern.

Here’s what has changed on defense since a gruesome 63-13 loss to Stanford in the Big Game: A new coordinator, two new position coaches, the return of key players who missed last season with injuries, and the arrival of newcomers recruited to fill holes and add depth.

Will the upgrades allow the Bears to be competitive against a schedule that ESPN ranks as the third-toughest in the nation?

“I like what I see,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “I have a lot of confidence in those guys, probably a lot more than I should based on what I saw last year.”

The Bears’ 1-11 season was defined by a defense that allowed 45.9 points per game last season — second-worst in the country and a school record by a significant margin.

Dating back to the end of the 2012 season, Cal has failed to hold an opponent under 30 points for 14 consecutive games. In 11 of those games, the other team scored 40 or more.

Click here for the rest of this story.

1

Women’s basketball: Jemerigbe to play in Spain

Former Cal guard Afure Jemerigbe signed a professional contract with Spanish League newcomer CB Al-Qazeres.

CB Al-Qazares will play in the Liga Femenina de Baloncesto, the top women’s basketball league in Spain, for the first time in team history for the 2014-15 season after earning promotion from the second tier of the Spanish women’s basketball pyramid last season.

Jemerigbe led the Golden Bears to a 22-10 record last season, averaging 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds.