Football: Year 1 of the Bear Raid not a big success

Pac-12 Networks analyst Yogi Roth watched tape of Cal’s 41-24 loss at Colorado and realized he had seen it all before.

“If you don’t look at the score, it’s like the offense is putting up numbers, but not converting when they need to,” he said. “That’s kind of what happens every Saturday.”

The Bear Raid offense, expected to rack up points, win games and sell tickets for Cal football this fall, has become something else altogether.

“We’re a teaser offense,” Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin said. “We show signs, tease people, and they go, ‘Why can’t they do that all the time?'”

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How Cal’s Bear Raid offense produced against its two FBS nonconference opponents and its eight Pac-12 foes (by average):

  • Northwestern: 549 yards, 30 points
  • Ohio State: 503 yards, 34 points
  • Pac-12 opponents: 424.0 yards, 20.3 points



Football: Backup QB Zach Kline knows he soon must address the question about his future

Backup quarterback Zach Kline calls Cal “the school of my dreams.” His family is nearby, his girlfriend and his high school buddies all are at Berkeley. His roommate is his best friend.

“Really, my whole life is here,” he said.

Although he doesn’t like thinking about it, Kline knows the day is fast approaching when he will have to make a decision about his future at Cal.

In an interview after practice Tuesday, the redshirt freshman from Danville never used the word “transfer.”

But with freshman Jared Goff having started every game for the Bears this season, Kline finds himself asking a key question.

“That’s definitely the core of the thing — is there an opportunity?” he said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play and start as a college football quarterback and I want that opportunity here. But it’s something I definitely have to think about: Am I going to get that opportunity here?”

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Football: Bears need muscle — and magic — if they hope to pull off Big Game upset at Stanford

Linebacker Michael Barton said the Cal football team will try to match Stanford’s physical play on Saturday, but admitted it may take more than that to pull off the biggest upset in Big Game history.

“We need a little bit of magic,” Barton said. “In games like this, something spectacular always happens. If the ball rolls our way a few times, we’ll be all right as long as we play sound football.”

Cal (1-10, 0-8 Pac-12), without a win this season against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, is a 31 1/2-point underdog — believed to be the biggest point spread in the 116-year history of the rivalry.

“I think everybody in the organization loves it, just to be in position to shock the world,” Barton said.

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Football: Lasco ruled out for Saturday

After suggesting most of the week that Daniel Lasco (shoulder) likely would be ready to play Saturday at Colorado, coach Sonny Dykes said the redshirt sophomore running back is out this week.

“I thought he could do it,” Dykes said after practice Thursday. “Had a doctor’s appointment. They checked him out and said he’s not ready.”

Lasco will miss his third game in five weeks. He had a season-high 71 rushing yards two weeks ago against Arizona, but was limited to three carries last week.

“We’ll use (Brendan) Bigelow a little more back there, which is good,” Dykes said. “Give him a chance to get his hands on the ball more. We’ll play him at running back and slot receiver.”

Khalfani Muhammad, Darren Ervin and Jeffrey Coprich also will be available at running back. Ervin, slowed last week by a shoulder injury, is listed as probable.

Meanwhile, linebacker Khairi Fortt (biceps) is day-to-day and could play against the Buffaloes.

“Possibly,” Dykes said. “Wait and see how it feels. He was better today. I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Asked how the Bears will respond if Fortt cannot play for a second straight week, Dykes said, “We’re a little thin even if he does play. We’ll figure it out.”

Slot receiver Richard Rodgers, who missed last week’s game after thumb surgery earlier in the week, is off the injury and expected to play. The thumb is immobilized by a splint and heavily padded.

“I thought Richard practiced well. Caught the ball well, so I feel good about him,” Dykes said. “He caught the ball with his off hand pretty consistently. Didn’t do it very well the first part of the week, but later did it well.”



Football: A tale of 2 woeful defenses

Cal’s defense — beat up and young and thin and overmatched and unable to generate turnovers and prone to missing tackles — has ranked as statistically one of the poorest in the nation all season.

But on Saturday, the Bears’ defense may not be the worst on the field.

That distinction may belong to host Colorado, whose defensive performance throughout the Pac-12 schedule has been even more troublesome.


Colorado WR Paul Richardson poised for another record-setting day


Compare these numbers from each team’s conference games:

    Points per game allowed: Cal 45.9, Colorado 50.5
    Yards per game allowed: Cal 514, Colorado 589.5
    Margin of defeat: Cal 26.1 points, Colorado 34.5

Overall, Cal’s stats are somewhat worse than Colorado’s in most defensive categories. Those numbers don’t account for a disparity in the competition level each club faced in the nonconference.

Cal played Ohio State, Northwestern and Portland State — a top-5 opponent, a preseason top-25 foe (which since has slipped) and an FCS team.

Colorado faced Colorado State, Central Arkansas and Charleston Southern — a .500 team from the Mountain West Conference and two FCS teams.

After a 59-7 loss at Washington last Saturday, CU defensive coordinator Kent Baer counted 37 missed tackles, helping the Huskies total more than 250 yards after initial contact.

“I’ve never been part of that, ever,” first-year CU coach Mike MacIntyre told the Denver Post. “The most I’ve ever been a part of was, like, 20 (missed tackles). If you get above 10, you’re in trouble.”

It’s been a rough season for both teams. But Cal doesn’t have to be the worst defense on the field on Saturday.


Football: Dykes to keep distance from Ralphie

Before Cal and Colorado kick off Saturday afternoon at Folsom Field, Ralphie, the Buffaloes’ real-life mascot, leads the CU team onto the field, tethered (sort of) by several handlers hanging on to long leashes.

“Pretty cool tradition. That’s one of the cool things about college football,” Cal coach Sonny Sykes said after practice Wednesday. “I’m just going to make sure I’m a long way away.”

Ralphie V is the program’s current active mascot. Born in October 2006 and donated to CU by Ted Turner, Ralphie V took over game day duties in 2008.

Asked about having a live bear on the sidelines at Memorial Stadium, Dykes said, “I’ve been trying to get that done. I haven’t gotten much traction.”

Cal used a live bear as a sideline mascot until 1941, when “Oski” took over the assignment.


Dykes said linebacker Khairi Fortt, who missed the USC game with a biceps injury, remains uncertain for Saturday’s game.

“Waiting to see.,” Dykes said. “He’s pretty sore today. We’ll see what he can do tomorrow.”

Dykes was more optimistic about the prospects of receiver Richard Rodgers (thumb) and running backs Daniel Lasco (shoulder) and Darren Ervin (shoulder), listing them all as probable to face Colorado.


Football notebook: Goff settles into rhythm

Cal freshman quarterback Jared Goff has settled into a more efficient rhythm the past three games, throwing eight touchdowns and just two interceptions.

He said one reason is his acceptance that he can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound.

“Part of it is not trying to be Superman out there, just doing what a quarterback has to do and not trying to make every play on the field,” Goff said. “For a little while there I was trying to do too much.”

Goff’s numbers for the four previous games included just two touchdowns and three interceptions.

“I would get frustrated and think I’ve got to throw a touchdown here. I realized it and fixed it and that’s what’s going on the last few games.”


When the Bears (1-9, 0-7 Pac-12) visit Colorado (3-6, 0-6) on Saturday, old WAC coaching rivals Sonny Dykes and Mike MacIntyre will meet for the fourth straight season.

Dykes won two of three meetings as coach at Louisiana Tech against MacIntyre’s San Jose State squad, although the Spartans prevailed last season.

Then both were involved in the Cal coaching search to replace Jeff Tedford.

“We kind of laughed about that in the offseason a little bit, about the way things work out,” Dykes said. “Everybody’s mentioned for everything at some point in their career.”


Dykes said redshirt freshman linebacker Hardy Nickerson will undergo surgery Friday to repair what is called a Lisfranc injury, a fairly complicated fracture to the midfoot.

Nickerson will miss spring ball, Dykes said, sidelined until about May.


Dykes said junior Brendan Bigelow, who was moved from running back to slot receiver at midseason, could end up back at running back by next season. Bigelow played both positions last week against USC, running the ball twice for 17 yards.

Bigelow missed spring ball after knee surgery and didn’t show explosiveness early in the season at running back. “A lot of it will depend on the confidence he has in his knee,” Dykes said.


Football: Nickerson out for the season

Redshirt freshman Hardy Nickerson will miss the final two games of the season after suffering a foot injury Saturday against USC, Cal announced Monday.

Nickerson, who has started eight games and played in all 10, is the Bears’ co-leader with 64 tackles. He also has five tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Coach Sonny Dykes said that Nickerson has been dealing with a foot issue much of the season, but that he will be unable to play again this season after Saturday’s game against USC.

“I hate that Hardy got injured,” Dykes said. “He was starting to play well. He had started to look like a different guy.”

Khairi Fortt, who had been sharing the middle linebacker spot with Nickerson, sat out last week’s game with a biceps injury. Fortt was listed as probable on Cal’s injury list Monday. “I think he’s doing a lot better,” Dykes said.

Michael Barton got most of the first-team reps Monday, and freshman Chad Whitener is also available at the position.

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Football: Arizona poses more threats to Cal defense than RB Ka’Deem Carey

A week ago, before his Colorado team faced Arizona, coach Mike MacIntyre joked he developed a headache each time he watched tape of running back Ka’Deem Carey, the nation’s leading rusher for the second straight year.

You have to wonder what kind of restless nights Cal’s defensive coaches are experiencing after Arizona unveiled a potent complement to Carey in its 44-20 win over the Buffaloes.

When Cal (1-7, 0-5 Pac-12) faces the Wildcats (5-2, 2-2) on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium, trying to stop Carey won’t be enough. Colorado ganged up on the star junior, and quarterback B.J. Denker responded with 457 yards in total offense, including 191 on the ground.

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Football: Don’t expect a see-saw at QB — Dykes doesn’t want Goff looking over his shoulder

Asked to expand on his postgame comments that suggested freshman Jared Goff will be the Bears’ quarterback for the rest of the season, coach Sonny Dykes left only a little wiggle room on Monday night.

“You’re never going to close the door on anything,” he said after practice. “We’ll see how it plays out. The worst thing you can do is have a quarterback looking over his shoulder all the time.

“Considering that, you can draw your own conclusions. If the circumstances warrant making a change we’ll make one.”

Goff, who held off a weeklong practice duel with Zach Kline headed into the Washington game, passed for 336 yards without a turnover in the 41-17 loss.


Late in the fourth quarter at UW, Dykes gave redshirt junior Austin Hinder a few snaps off the bench. Dykes said no one should read anything into the fact that it wasn’t Kline who got the call.

“He’s been here for four years,” Dykes said of  Hinder. “We wanted to play him in a game.”


Sophomore Freddie Tagaloa, moved from left tackle to right guard last week, got some first-team snaps at his new position Monday. Dykes said there will be an adjustment for Tagaloa, “It’s something we think he can do well. We want him to develop and improve.”


Running back Daniel Lasco, who has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury, may be ready to return Saturday against Arizona. But Dykes said Khalfani Muhammad and Daniel Ervin will get most of the reps this week.


Junior linebacker Khairi Fortt was announced Monday as one of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker.

Fortt leads the Bears with 54 tackles, including three for loss.