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Football: Cal defense will try to be better, not different

Cal will mix its defenses tonight against Washington State, throw in some blitzes, and hope to get a lift off the bench from cornerbacks Darius White and Joel Willis, apparently healthy at last and ready to contribute.

“You’ve got to fire all your bullets,” coach Sonny Dykes said of how the Bears will approach coach Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense.

But don’t expect an entirely new look from the Bears. There will be no surprise defensive renovation, no new tricks to throw off the Cougars.

They won’t work, Dykes said, because he has seen teams try.

During his tenure working under Leach at Texas Tech, Dykes said more than one opponent showed up on game night with a dramatic, new defensive twist.

“Anytime we saw that we always knew it was going to play into our hands,” Dykes recalled. “In some ways that’s what they want you do to, make a bunch of drastic changes and use a bunch of new coverages.

“They just do their thing. You always have to resist temptation of using a bunch of new schemes because they’re going to be really good at what they do so you better be good at what you do.”

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Football: Will Cal-WSU end before Sunday?

Are you ready for a late night?

Cal and Washington State kick off at 7:30 p.m. tonight, and when the game ends is anyone’s guess.

11 pm.? C’mon . . .later.

11:30? Maybe.

Midnight? Not out of the question, with two teams likely to throw a lot and score a lot.

Asked this week if he’s ever been part of a game that finished after midnight, Cal coach Sonny Dykes laughed.

“Oh yeah. Shoot, half our games at Texas Tech did,” he said, reflecting on his time as an assistant with the Red Raiders under current WSU coach Mike Leach.

“One year we played Texas A&M and we kicked at 9,” he said. “It was midnight at the end of the first quarter.”

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Football: UC/CU and crazy numbers

UPDATED

Some nutty numbers off Cal’s 59-56 double-OT win over Colorado:

– Jared Goff’s seven touchdown passes is the second-most in Cal history, behind Pat Barnes’ record of eight in a 56-55 four-overtime win over Arizona in 1996.

– The combined 14 TD passes by Goff and Colorado’s Sefo Luifau set a Pac-12 record.

– Goff passed for 449 yards, the fourth-highest total of his career. He now holds four of the top five spots on Cal’s single-game list.

– His 35 career TD passes ties him for No. 8 on Cal’s career list . . . in just 16 games. The record, FYI, is 64, held by Kyle Boller (1999-2002).

– Goff has thrown 17 touchdown passes this season — tied for second-best in the nation. He needs 14 more to equal Barnes’ single-season record of 31 set in 1996.

– Goff has climbed to No. 5 nationally in pass efficiency at 190.2. A 17 to 3 TD to INT ratio will do that.

– The Bears’ game next Saturday at Washington State will feature two of the most prolific passers in the country. WSU’s Connor Halliday threw four Saturday in a win at Utah and has an NCAA-best 20 for the season.

– Cal is averaging 17.1 yards per completion, a far cry from last year’s dink-and-dunk offense where that number was 10.8 yards.

– The Bears have scored 159 points the past three games, more than in any three-game since span putting up 169 in 1922 in wins over Washington State (61-0), Washington (45-7) and Nevada (61-0).

– Daniel Lasco had 200 yards rushing (108) and receiving (92) and now has 347 rushing yards over four games, averaging 6.3 per attempt. Click here to see Lasco’s school-record 92-yard TD reception, during which he eluded several CU defenders, then leveled one to break into the open.

– Nine different Cal players have caught touchdowns this season, led by Kenny Lawler, who had two vs. CU and five for the season.

– Penalties continue to be a problem for the Bears. They had 12 for 113 yards against Colorado and have been flagged for 373 yards in four games.

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Football: Cal-Colorado game thread

FINAL: Cal 59, Colorado 56, 2 OT. Well, that was fun. Two weeks in a row. Sheesh. What could happen next week? Don’t ask — the Bears play a night game at Washington State, where we may see 135 pass attempts. (Just from the Cougars).

Here’s the top of my game story:

Cal football’s 713-day drought without a Pac-12 victory is history and coach Sonny Dykes couldn’t be happier.

“When you’re not very good, which we weren’t last year, then a lot of the wins you get are first this, first that. I’m kind of ready for that to be over,” Dykes said after the Bears’ 59-56 double-overtime defeat of Colorado snapped a 15-game conference losing streak.

James Langford kicked a 34-yard field goal in the second overtime and Jared Goff threw seven touchdown passes as the Bears won their first Pac-12 game since beating Washington State 31-17 on Oct. 13, 2012.

Of course, this wasn’t just any victory, but a bookend to the weirdest eight days the Bears have experienced in decades. A week after blowing an 18-point fourth-quarter lead in a 49-45 loss at Arizona, the Bears (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) made sure late-game magic isn’t just the domain of their opposition.

“It’s probably up there with last week for the craziest game I’ve been a part of,” said Goff, who threw three of his touchdowns in the final 2:56 of regulation and in overtime. “Obviously, it feels better this time.”

Dykes could barely harness his emotions after the teams combined for four touchdowns in the final 3:23 of regulation to set up the Bears’ first overtime game since 2011 at Colorado. “I think I’ve aged like a hundred years the last two weeks,” he said.

Langford, the senior from Pleasanton, was feeling a bit surreal himself. He called the scene after his game-winning kick “a blur,” but did remember hitting the ground after a Colorado defender ran into him.

“I didn’t see it go through the uprights,” he said. “All the noise confirmed it for me.”

Then his delirious teammates arrived, planting him once more. He called the experience “totally priceless,” admitting his cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

The combined point total (115) Saturday in front of 39,821 thoroughly entertained fans at Memorial Stadium was the highest in a Cal game since 1920, when the Bears thrashed Saint Mary’s College 127-0.

This one was more fun.

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Football: Cal-Arizona game thread

FINAL SCORE: Arizona 49 Cal 45. Impossible, right? Well, I’ve never seen anything like it, and neither has anyone else I talked to in the press box tonight. The Wildcats (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) scored 36 fourth-quarter points, including four TD passes from redshirt freshman Anu Solomon. He finished with 520 passing yards and five TDs. None was bigger or more improbable than his 47-yard “Hail Mary” to Austin Hill after taking the final snap with 4 seconds left. The Bears (2-1, 0-1) were ruined. “So painful,” said quarterback Jared Goff, who passed for 380 yards and three TDs.

Click here to read my game story.

END OF THIRD QTR: Cal 31-13. It may not be over. The Wildcats have definitely had the better of things this quarter — Solomon beginning to find a rhythm running and throwing — and they begin the period with a second-and-10 from the Cal 14.

Cal totaled just 44 yards of offense in the quarter, compared to 169 for the Wildcats.

HALFTIME: Cal 28-6. Cal’s best half of the Sonny Dykes era. Griffin Piatt’s third interception in three games — on the goal line with 47 seconds left in the half — kept the Wildcats out of the end zone after they threatened again.

Goff was 13 for 17 for 294 yards and three TDs. In the second quarter he threw a 26-yarder to Stephen Anderson that was Anderson’s first career TD catch and his first catch of any kind this season. He also connected with Chris Harper on a 30-yard TD that made it 28-6.

Lasco has 11 carries for 74 yards and Cal has outgained Arizona 375 yards to 190.

END OF FIRST QTR: Cal 14-0. The Bears played a nearly perfect first 3:07 of the game, scoring two touchdowns on just four plays that covered a total of 165 yards. Daniel Lasco got the first on a 44-yard TD run, then Jared Goff threw 80 yards to Bryce Treggs on a one-play scoring drive with 11:53 left in the quarter.

Cal outgained the Cats 210 yards to 56. Goff was 7 for 8 for 149 yards. Lasco had six carries for 56 yards.

*****

Welcome to Arizona Stadium in Tucson. We are about 90 minutes from kickoff of the Pac-12 opener between Cal (2-0) and Arizona (3-0).

A warm early evening with a few clouds. Things can change in a hurry in the desert, but this doesn’t look like a night that will bring rain.

A couple of depth-chart notes: sophomore Jake Kearney gets his first start at the SAM linebacker spot. Jalen Jefferson moves to the WILL, and Ray Davison, who had started at the SAM, is listed as No. 2 at WILL.

Cedric Dozier is listed as a starter at one cornerback spot over Darius Allensworth, although they likely will be on the field together when Cal is in a nickel formation, which could be often.

Arizona dressed in all-white uniforms, Cal in gold on gold with blue helmets.

COIN FLIP: Cal wins the toss and will receive. Same as the past two games, when the Bears opened with long drives to touchdowns.

Enjoy the game.

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Football: Cal vs. Sac State game thread

Click here to read my game story and see staff photographer Kristopher Skinner’s photo slideshow.

*****

FINAL: Cal 55, Sac State 14. The Bears, at 2-0, have exceeded their victory total of all last season. They will enjoy a bye week before opening Pac-12 play at Arizona on Sept. 20. Sac State is 1-1. Cal finished with 579 yards to 302 for the Hornets. Cal used 75 players, including five quarterbacks. Sac State finished with 302 total yards, but had just 15 net yards on its first eight possessions before coach Sonny Dykes pulled his first team.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: Cal 55, Sac State 14. After Griffin Piatt’s interception in the end zone prevented the Hornets from creeper closer than 48-14, Sonny Dykes returned his first offense to the field. They needed just three plays to cover 80 yards, as Goff passed 55 yards to Trevor Davis, then fired a 12-yard TD pass to Chris Harper. Goff, who is surely finished for the day, is 17 for 22 for 229 yards with four TDs. He has seven TDs in two games this season. Cal’s yardage edge through three quarters: 507-266. One stat the Bears can’t be happy about: 10 penalties for 100 yards.

HALFTIME: Cal 45, Sacramento State 7: The Hornets avoided the shutout by scoring off Cal’s second defense in the final minute of the half. Some quick numbers: Cal with 398 yards to 82 for Sac State. Rush: Cal 152 yards, Sac St minus-12. Cal has 19 first downs to 9 for the visitors. Goff is 15 for 20 for 162 yards and 3 TDs. Rubenzer is 3 for 4 for 84 yards and a TD, and has rushed 6 times for 34 yards and another score. Lasco has 8 carries for a career-best 89 yards.  Sacks for the Bears: Scarlett, Barr & freshman Devante Downs. I would expect we would see Goff for one more offensive series (at the most) and that senior Austin Hinder gets some serious chance to play the rest of the rest. Also look for those freshmen RBs Tre Watson and Vic Enwere.

END OF FIRST QTR: Cal 28, Sac State 0. Well, that was decisive. Three TD passes for Jared Goff — who has six after five quarters this season — and one by freshman Luke Rubenzer. Goff is 8 for 11 for 76 yards, Rubenzer 2 for 2 for 73 yards. Sac State QB Garrett Safron is 3 for 9 for 31 yards. Cal has 197 yards to 26 for Sac State. First downs are 9 to 3. Average yards per play 8.2 yards for Cal, 1.6 yards for Sac. The Hornets have some defensive issues.

*****

A beautiful late morning at Memorial Stadium. A smallish crowd so far, with the players about to take the field for the opening kickoff.

Cal wins the coin toss, elects to receive the opening kickoff.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffFaraudo

 

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Football: Cal vs. Sacramento State facts

CAL vs. SACRAMENTO STATE

KICKOFF: Saturday, noon at Memorial Stadium, Berkeley.

TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 810-AM.

RECORDS: Cal 1-0, 0-0 in Pac-12; Sacramento State 1-0, 0-0 in Big Sky.

SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 1-0. The Bears beat the Hornets 41-3 in 2005.

STORYLINES: Cal tries to avoid a letdown against an FCS-level team and build on its 31-24 opening win at Northwestern. A victory would double the Bears’ win total of a year ago and provide nice momentum headed into a bye week. … Sac State has had some success against the Pac-12, with a 30-28 win at Colorado in 2012 and a 29-28 overtime win at Oregon State in 2011. Last season, the Hornets were mashed 55-0 at Arizona State. … The Bears hope to ramp up their ground game after getting just 77 rushing yards from their running backs against NU. … The Hornets are coached by Jody Sears, originally hired as defensive coordinator after last season, then promoted after head coach Marshall Sperber stepped down in April amid an inquiry into possible recruiting violations. Sears was 4-19 the past two seasons as head coach at Weber State.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: MLB Nathan Broussard (knee), Saf Quentin Tartabull (knee), RB Jeffrey Coprich (foot) and DE Harrison Wilfley (finger) are out; CB Darius White (shoulder) and Saf Avery Sebastian (quad) are questionable; Sacramento State: None reported.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal quarterback Luke Rubenzer vs. Sac State middle linebacker Darnell Sankey. Coming off the bench, Rubenzer stunned Northwestern with a game-high 48 rushing yards, three times negotiating first downs. He won’t have the element of surprise against the Hornets, who are likely to use 6-foot-2, 250-pound junior Sankey, a San Jose native, to track Rubenzer when he enters the game. Sankey had 10 tackles, forced a fumble and return an interception 59 yards for a TD last week against Incarnate Word.

STATS THAT MATTER: Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff’s three touchdown passes at Northwestern marked the seventh time in 13 career games he’s thrown multiple TD in a game. … Cal can start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2011. … Cal has averaged 49 points in its seven games against FCS opponents. … The Pac-12 has a combined record of 94-11 against FCS teams since 1978, when the NCAA began differentiating between what were then called Division I and I-AA programs.

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Football: Bears won’t take Sacto St for granted

Cal, which faces Sacramento State on Saturday in its home opener, is 7-0 all-time vs. Football Championship Subdivision opponents.

Coach Sonny Dykes knows the matchup might prompt yawns from some fans, but dismissed the suggestion this amounts to an automatic victory.

“They obviously haven’t coached in many of these games,” Dykes said. “These teams have won too many times to even go into it.”

Sacramento State has accounted for two of three wins by FCS teams over the Pac-12 in the past three seasons, and it was only a year ago that schools formerly classified as Division I-AA enjoyed their most startling weekend at the expense of the bigger Football Bowl Subdivision programs.

Seven FCS teams took down FBS opponents during opening week last season, including these three:

• Eastern Washington became only the third FCS team to upset a Top-25 team with its 49-45 win at Oregon State.

• McNeese State’s 53-21 rout of South Florida represented the most points ever scored by an FCS team against an FBS foe.

• North Dakota State solidified its status as the little program every FBS program should avoid with a 24-21 win over defending Big 12 co-champion Kansas State. Iowa State didn’t get the message in time to avoid a 34-14 loss last Saturday, extending the Bison’s streak to five seasons featuring an FBS victory.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

*****

Cal’s scores against FCS teams:

2013: d. Portland State 37-30

2012: d. Southern Utah 50-31

2011: d. Presbyterian 63-12

2010: d. UC Davis 52-3

2009: d. Eastern Washington 59-7

2006: d. Portland State 42-16

2005: d. Sacramento State 41-3

 

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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.

 

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Basketball: UConn women rout Cal

No. 1 UConn took charge from the start and dispatched Cal 80-47 in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden.

The No. 21 Bears (7-3) shot 29.9 percent, including 1 for 9 from the 3-point arc.

Brittany Boyd had nine points, seven rebounds, six steals and five assists to lead the Bears, who had no player score double digits. But Boyd shot just 3 for 23

All-American Brenna Stewart had 29 points and 10 rebounds in just 27 minutes for the Huskies (12-0).