Football: Off to Levi’s, Jared Goff and teammates put last year’s rain-soaked Oregon disaster in rear-view mirror

The setting will be merely a subplot when Cal faces No. 6 Oregon on Friday night in the first college football game at Levi’s Stadium.

Quarterback Jared Goff said the Bears haven’t given much thought to playing in the 49ers’ fancy, new digs. But he acknowledged, “When we walk on the field it’ll be, ‘Wow, this is pretty sweet.’ ”

A year ago at Eugene, Oregon, the environment wreaked as much havoc as the Ducks. Relentless sheets of rain and swirling winds contributed to Cal losing four fumbles in the opening nine minutes on the way to a 55-16 loss.

Even the home team was astonished.

“As a native Oregonian, growing up in an area where storms are frequent, that was unbelievable,” Ducks coach Mark Helfrich recalled. “I’ve never seen that before or since.”

Neither had Goff, who arrived at Autzen Stadium as the nation’s passing leader, averaging 435 yards through his first three collegiate starts as a freshman. He lasted only 14 snaps before being pulled.

“I couldn’t control the weather and I couldn’t control the way the ball was coming out of my hands,” said Goff, who lost two fumbles in the splashy conditions.

“That game was rough. It wasn’t a good one for me or anyone else, really. It’s in the past. I’ve got a chance to prove myself again against them.”

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said there’s little connection between last year’s game and what might happen Friday night.

“Obviously, last year was a disaster,” he said. “We anticipate playing better.”

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Football: Dykes dishes on `importance’ of uniforms

Cal coach Sonny Dykes did an interview this week with John Canzano, columnist for the Oregonian and Portland radio personality, and expressed his view that some things are more important than fancy uniforms.

Here’s part of what Dykes had to say:

“That’s where you’re going to go to college, that’s where you’re going to get your education,” Dykes said. “There’s a lot of factors that I think are a lot more important factors than what you’re going to wear 12 Saturdays a year. But, you know, kids like those things.

“The thing about it is, at Cal, we’re a unique university. Academics are going to be a big thing here. Kids who come to Cal are going to have to work really hard. The type of kids we recruit, typically, the uniforms aren’t going to matter that much.”

Click here for Canzano’s entire interview with Dykes.

And here for my how I answered Five Questions from Oregonian beat writer Andrew Greif on the state of Cal’s team.


Football: Dykes says Mariota better than Manziel

Only one coach in the nation has faced both Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota, and Sonny Dykes says Mariota is the better player.

“I think he’s the best quarterback I’ve seen in a while,” said Cal’s second-year coach, who will have to deal with Mariota again Friday when the Bears face No. 6 Oregon at Levi’s Stadium.

On the way to winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman at Texas A&M in 2012, Manziel racked up 576 yards passing and rushing and accounted for six touchdowns in a 59-57 win over Dykes’ Louisiana Tech team.

And still Dykes gives a slight edge to Mariota.

“He compares favorably to Johnny Manziel,” Dykes said. “Mariota’s a bigger, faster, stronger version.”

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Football: Borrayo, Sebastian could return for Oregon

Coach Sonny Dykes hopes two of three key players who sat out the UCLA game with injuries could be back to face No. 6 Oregon on Friday night at Levi’s Stadium.

Starting left guard Chris Borrayo, who missed the game with a head injury, did non-contact work Sunday at practice and is expected to be cleared for full practice by Tuesday, Dykes said.

Reserve safety Avery Sebastian sat out Sunday’s workout with a quad injury, but will practice Tuesday.

The prospects are less optimistic for defensive end Brennan Scarlett, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury. “It’s kind of wait and see and we’ll go from there,” Dykes said.

Starting safeties Stefan McClure (calf) and Michael Lowe (head), who returned to action against UCLA, emerged unscathed and are expected to be fine for Oregon.

“Both played a lot of snaps and did some good things,” Dykes said.

Lowe had missed just one game, but McClure was idle each of the first four Pac-12 games before facing the Bruins. He showed some rust, Dykes said.

“You could tell Stef hadn’t played in a well. He’s capable of playing better,” Dykes said. “It was good to see them back there, to give us some size, physicality and experience. I would expect them to continue to play better and better.”

McClure was just happy to be on the field again.

“It felt pretty good just to get back out there and help the guys, contribute to the team,” McClure said. “The leg feels pretty good. For me, it’s just getting back into playing shape. You can’t simulate playing in a game.”


Football: Trevor Davis attends practice, teammates relieved

A day after suffering a scary injury during a loss to UCLA that sent him to the hospital for tests, Cal receiver Trevor Davis watched his teammates practice Sunday, allowing them all to breathe easily.

“He’s in really good spirits,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “It was good for our players to see him.”

Davis suffered a jammed neck while being tackled on a kickoff return with 3:34 left in the 36-34 loss to UCLA, Dykes said, but sustained no head injury. “I don’t think there’s any kind of long-term issues or anything like that,” Dykes said.

There is no timetable yet for Davis to return to action, although he is not expected to play Friday night when Cal faces No. 6 Oregon at Levi’s Stadium.

Davis thanked Cal’s fans for their support via his Twitter account:

I’d like to thank everyone so much for all the prayers, and I’m blessed to say that I’m doing good and will be back soon #Calfamily

Davis remained on the field for 10 minutes before being taken out of Memorial Stadium on a cart and transported to Highland Hospital for tests. He was released around midnight.

“Seeing him today was great, just having him out there, hanging out, being himself,” safety Stefan McClure said. “Anytime you see that situation, it’s real scary. You don’t know what to expect. To see him the next day walking around was really just great.”

McClure called Davis one of the team’s big playmakers, adding, “Even outside football, he’s one of our brothers and family members.”

Dykes said receiver Chris Harper sustained a bruised back in the final 2 minutes against UCLA, did not practice Sunday, but likely will be available to face the Ducks.


Football: Trevor Davis released from hospital

Trevor Davis, injured during the Bears’ loss to UCLA on Saturday afternoon, was released from the hospital around midnight after undergoing tests, a team spokesman said Sunday morning.

There were no other details provided.

Davis, a native of Martinez, stayed on the turf for more than 10 minutes after being hit by UCLA’s Ryan Hofmeister with 3:34 seconds left in the Bears’ 36-34 loss at Memorial Stadium.

The junior receiver gave a thumbs-up sign to fans while strapped to a gurney and driven out of the stadium on a cart. The crowd responded by chanting his name.

Davis was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he was expected to undergo test to rule out head or spinal injuries.

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said after the game that Davis told him he felt OK and that early signs were positive.

The Alhambra High graduate scored his sixth touchdown of the season on Saturday on a 24-yard pass reception in the third quarter. He made headlines two weeks ago by setting a Cal record with touchdowns on kickoff returns of 100 and 98 yards in a win at Washington State.


Football: Ducks, Bears have faced same foes past two weeks, and the comparison favors Oregon

When Cal begins its preparation for Friday’s game against Oregon at Levi’s Stadium, the Bears won’t have to look far to find video against familiar opponents.

The Bears and Ducks have flip-flopped opponents the past two weeks, with Oregon enjoying a significant advantage.

Cal lost 31-7 to Washington and 36-34 to UCLA.

Oregon beat UCLA 42-30 and Washington 45-20. (And the Oregon-UCLA game wasn’t that close — the Ducks led 42-10).

In other words, the Bears were a combined minus-26 points in the two games, Oregon plus-37.

The Ducks totaled 1,022 yards in the two games, including 476 on the ground.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 546 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions vs. the Bruins and Huskies. Mariota, in fact, has yet to be intercepted in 188 pass attempts this season. He has 19 touchdown passes.

Here’s a scary statistic: The past two seasons, Mariota has thrown 50 TD passes with just 4 picks in 584 attempts.


Football: Cal-UCLA notes

Cal quarterback Jared Goff finished 25 of 41 for 303 yards and two TDs, boosting his season total to 24, tied for third-most in school history.

He earned the admiration of UCLA coach Jim Mora, who said, “He’s got everything you want in a big-time player.”

Goff’s 10th career 300-yard passing game ties him with Pat Barnes for most by a Cal quarterback.

Freshman backup Luke Rubenzer played more than he had in a month, and threw his second TD of the season, a 7-yarder to Chris Harper for a 14-10 Cal lead midway through the second quarter.


Dykes had no immediate update on the status of Harper, who was hit in the back by UCLA cornerback Jaleel Wadood and helped off the field with 1:40 left in the game.


UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley completed 31 of 42 passes for 330 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception, and was the game’s leading rusher with 17 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown.


Cal linebacker Hardy Nickerson Jr. recovered a fumble and forced another to set up Cal’s first two touchdowns.

Cam Walker had his first career interception, returning it 39 yards.


Punter Cole Leininger averaged 44.0 yards on eight kicks, five of them downed inside the 20-yard line.


As expected, Cal left guard Chris Borrayo did not dress due to a head injury. Matt Cochran started in his place. The Bears also played without defensive end Brennan Scarlett (knee).

But the Bears got back the services of starting safeties Stefan McClure and Michael Lowe. Lowe had a team-high 11 tackles and McClure had nine.


Four of Cal’s five Pac-12 games have been decided by four points or less.


Football: Trevor Davis taken to hospital for tests, but moving and talking after late-game injury

Cal junior receiver Trevor Davis, whose fourth-quarter injury on a kickoff return against UCLA silenced the Memorial Stadium crowd, was taken by ambulance to a local hospital but was moving his arms and legs and talking, coach Sonny Dykes reported.

“He said he felt OK,” Dykes said. “The signs from the field all looked good.”

Note: We will update this story as soon as Cal provides news from the hospital.

A native of Martinez and transfer from Hawaii, Davis stayed on the turf for more than 10 minutes after being hit by UCLA’s Ryan Hofmeister with 3 minutes, 34 seconds left in the Bears’ 36-34 loss.

Davis gave a thumbs-up sign to fans while strapped to a gurney and driven out of the stadium. The crowd responded by chanting his name. Davis, who scored his sixth touchdown of the season in the game, was scheduled to undergo tests at Highland Hospital in Oakland on Saturday night to confirm he has no head or spinal injuries.

“That was kind of scary to see there for a second,” Cal quarterback Jared Goff said. “From what I’ve heard, he’s doing all right and going to be OK.”

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