Cal football: Sonny Dykes says offensive style could be tweaked to fit skills of whoever wins QB job

How much the offensive style of Cal’s 2016 football team resembles what fans saw with Jared Goff at the helm the past three seasons will depend on who wins the competition to replace him.

With Goff headed to the NFL draft after throwing 96 touchdowns in three seasons, the Bears will enter spring practice in a couple of months with as many as four candidates at quarterback.

And while none of them is likely to immediately approach the prolific success Goff had while setting two dozen school passing records, coach Sonny Dykes said the nuances of Cal’s approach on offense will hinge on the particular skills of the player taking the snaps.

“I think that’s one of the things we’ve always done pretty well, that is figure out what our quarterback can do and adjust the offense accordingly,” Dykes said in a teleconference with reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve got some base things we do and if we have more of a running quarterback the offense . . . we’ll adjust the offense to their skill set.”

That might mean more quarterback runs, play-action passes or run-pass combinations, Dykes said, but it doesn’t mean the Bears will stop throwing the ball.

Sophomore Chase Forrest, who served as Goff’s understudy, heads the group competing for the job. He and freshman Ross Bowers, who redshirted last fall, are mobile but not considered running quarterbacks.

Junior Luke Rubenzer, who returns to offense after playing safety in 2015, and incoming freshman Max Gilliam are dual-threat quarterbacks. Gilliam will enroll this month and participate in spring ball after graduating high school in December.

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Cal football: Bears flip 4-star DB from Stanford

Cal scored a rare football victory over Stanford on Tuesday when four-star cornerback Nygel Edmonds of Chattanooga, Tennessee, flipped from the Cardinal and committed to the Bears, according to multiple recruiting sources.

Edmonds, a 6-foot, 180-pounder from the McCallie School for Boys, had committed to Stanford last April and was admitted to school last month, according to Rivals.com.

But after also receiving offers from the likes of national championship combatants Alabama and Clemson, Edmonds chose Cal.

He is rated as a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 27 cornerback by ESPN. Rivals has him as the No. 12 cornerback prospect and a four-star recruit. Scout lists Edmonds as a three-star prospect.

The Bears now have five defensive backs in their 24-player 2016 recruiting class. The letter-of-intent signing day is Feb. 3 and oral commitments aren’t binding until then.

But, for what it’s worth, landing Edmonds helps the Bears continue to climb in the latest recruiting rankings:

Rivals: No. 5 in Pac-12, No. 21 in nation

Scout: No. 6 in Pac-12, No. 33 in nation

247Sports: No. 6 in Pac-12, No. 32 in nation


Cal basketball: Bears lose to OSU, swept on trip

Down 14 points two minutes into the second half, Cal battled back within two before falling 77-71 to Oregon State at Gill Coliseum on Saturday night. The Bears (12-5, 2-2) were swept in the state of Oregon for the first time since 2005.

Some quick impressions:

WHY CAL LOST: The Bears were sporadic offensively, but actually made nine straight shots late in the game. The problem was their defense, which has been their strength for more than a month. The Beavers put up more points than any Cal opponent since Richmond scored 94 against the Bears in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend. The Bears blocked six shots, but could not close out defensive possessions, allowing 15 offensive rebounds.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: With his Hall of Fame father watching courtside, Oregon State senior guard Gary Payton II made all the big plays, including the biggest – a spinning drive and free throw with 30 seconds left that gave the Beavers some breathing room at 76-71. Payton finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and just one turnover in 38 impressive minutes.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Cal was down just 30-25 with barely 3 minutes left in the first half and the Beavers faced an inbounds play under their own basket with 1 second left on the shot clock. A wasted possession, right? No, Payton deftly inbounded to freshman Stephen Thompson Jr., who converted a reverse layup before the shot clock expired, and OSU outscored Cal 8-2 to close the half with a 38-27 lead.

TURNING POINT: The Bears pulled within 48-46 after consecutive 3-point baskets by Sam Singer and Jordan Mathews. But Cal’s next three possessions generated a missed one-and-one free throw by Jabari Bird, a Jordan turnover that led to a fastbreak dunk, and a Tyrone Wallace shot that was blocked. OSU went 6-0 to push its margin back to eight points with 10½ minutes left and the Bears were swimming upstream the rest of the night.

WHAT WE LEARNED: Actually, it’s what the Bears learned – the road is not easy in conference play. Cuonzo Martin and his players talked before the trip that they just needed to play their game and geography would have little to do with the outcome. But they got swept and now have lost their past six Pac-12 road games.

TURNING IT OVER: Cal entered the week among the Pac-12’s best at taking care of the ball. Then they coughed up 18 turnovers in a three-point loss at Oregon and 16 more in a six-point defeat at OSU. Combined with 15 OSU offensive rebounds, the turnovers helped the Beavers generate 17 more shots. So even though the Bears converted 52 percent to 43 percent for OSU, the home team actually made three more field goals.

BROKEN BENCH: Cal’s reserves were outscored 42-8 by their Oregon State counterparts, including 20-1 in first half. Reserve point guard Sam Singer ran the offense well, contributing five points, four assists and just one turnover in 27 minutes. The Bears often seem to have a better flow with the ball in his hands. But Cal badly needs a lift from junior guard Jabari Bird, who shot 1 for 7 and scored just three points. In four Pac-12 games, the former starter is 4 for 21from the field and has totaled 13 points.

MIXED BROWN BAG: Three nights after he scored 20 points at Oregon, freshman Jaylen Brown matched it with 20 more and seven rebounds. He had Pac-12 Networks analyst Bill Walton frothing at the mouth, although that doesn’t put him in select company. But Brown also shot just 2 for 8 at the free throw line and turned the ball over four times.

BIG TURNS SMALL: Martin swapped 7-footers in his starting lineup, going with Kingsley Okoroh over Kam Rooks at center. Before long, however, Martin opted for a smaller lineup, keeping both big guys on the bench. Neither was effective. The two combined for zero points and one rebound in 12 minutes. Martin wants to play big, but on this night it was clear from the start that a lineup with his best five players did not include either of his sophomore 7-footers.

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Cal basketball: Bears try to salvage split in Oregon

It’s very early in what promises to be a volatile Pac-12 basketball season.

Need evidence:

A victory by Cal (12-4, 2-1) on Saturday evening at Oregon State (10-3, 1-1) and the Bears could possibly move into a tie for first place.

A loss and the Bears suffer their first two-game sweep in the state of Oregon since 2005.

The 6:30 p.m. matchup (Pac-12 Networks) features a pair of teams coming off their first conference defeats of the season.

Cal had swept Colorado and Utah at home the previous weekend, but lost 68-65 at Oregon on Wednesday night.

OSU beat those same Ducks 70-57 on the opening weekend of the conference schedule, then sustained a 78-72 home loss to Stanford in a game the Beavers never led after the opening 6½ minutes.

“I think maybe a little bit of the performance the other night was these guys are learning how to handle success,” OSU coach Wayne Tinkle told the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

Exactly which team was Tinkle talking about?

Certainly could have been Cal, which was so good the previous weekend but turned the ball over 18 times, shot 0 for 12 from the 3-point arc and missed 10 free throws in a sloppy loss to the Ducks.

“We can’t let a loss linger over to a different game,” senior point guard Tyrone Wallace said afterward. “Oregon State is what we’re focused on. We’ve got to come out and learn from this game tonight, come out and play harder, correct our mistakes. We’ve just got to play better.”

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Cal basketball: Oregon game thread

FINAL SCORE: Oregon 68, Cal 65.

Cal missed three free throws in the final 2 minutes, 17 seconds after pulling within three points and lost at Oregon on Wednesday night. The Bears (12-4, 2-1) fell out of first place in the Pac-12 and are now 1-4 away from Haas Pavilion. Oregon is 12-4, 1-1.

Some quick impressions:

WHY CAL LOST: A lot reasons, starting with some ghastly offensive numbers. Cal turned the ball over 18 times – half again above their season average – to go with just six assists. The Bears shot 0 for 12 from the 3-point arc. Jordan Mathews, who scored 32 points against the Ducks when the teams last played at Matthew Knight Arena in 2014, shot 0 for 8 and was scoreless. And the Bears made just 13 of 23 free throws. They also surrendered 10 offensive rebounds.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Freshman Jaylen Brown helped keep the Bears close in the second half, when he scored 13 of his game-high 20 points. Brown shot 8 for 10 from the field and had nine rebounds and two steals.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Oregon freshman guard Tyler Dorsey – who was recruited hard last year by Cal – hit a 3-pointer with 57.2 seconds left, extending the Ducks’ lead from 60-57 to six points. Dorsey finished with 16 points.

TURNING POINT: The Bears were down just 60-57 after Brown made the first of two free throws with 2:17 left. He missed the second, then senior Tyrone Wallace missed two with 1:27 left. Moments later, Dorsey pushed the Oregon margin back to six points.

WHAT WE LEARNED: Cal was the quicker, more athletic team against Colorado and Utah last weekend, and its size made a difference in both victories. But the Ducks were the aggressors here, and their speed bothered the Bears. The Ducks ran circles around Cal big men Kameron Rooks and Kingsley Okoroh, although freshman forward Ivan Rabb had 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds. Cal could not find open looks on the perimeter and never developed any rhythm on offense.

TRENDS: Cal has now lost twice in a row to Oregon after beating the Ducks 12 straight times, six of those in Eugene.

BUCKING TRENDS: Cal was 5-1 against teams ranked in the RPI top-50 before the loss to the No. 20 Ducks. Oregon shot 52 percent in the second half to finish the game at 40.7 percent, becoming the first Cal opponent in six games to crack 40 percent.

WHAT’S NEXT: Saturday vs. Oregon State at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis. Tipoff is 6:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks). The Beavers (10-2, 1-0 before facing Stanford on Wednesday night) enjoyed their first sellout home crowd in three years last Sunday against Oregon, and rewarded them with a 70-57 victory. Senior guard Gary Payton entered the week averaging 16.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists, while freshmen Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr. and Drew Eubanks combined to average about 30 points.

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Basketball: Five things to know about Cal vs. Oregon

Cal (12-3, 2-0) takes on Oregon (11-3, 1-1) at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene on Wednesday night with the chance to move into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12. Tipoff is 6 pm on ESPN2

Here are five things to know about the matchup:

* Cal has dominated the Ducks in Eugene. The Bears have won six straight on Oregon’s home floor, part of a stretch where they have 12 victories in 13 games overall. Cal has not lost on the road to Oregon in Ben Braun’s final season of 2007-08. (The teams did not play at Eugene last season and Oregon won 80-69 in Berkeley). Worth nothing: Oregon is 9-0 at home this season.

* Cal center Kameron Rooks and Kingsley Okoroh played significant roles in wins over Colorado and Utah — combining for 18 points, 16 rebounds and 9 blocks in the two games — but could play less against Oregon. The Ducks are smaller – with just one starter taller than 6-7 – so 7-footers Rooks and Okoroh don’t match up as well. Will coach Cuonzo Martin make a change or stay big and force the Ducks to adjust? Expect backup point guard Sam Singer to see significant playing time.

* Junior guard Jordan Mathews should look forward to a return to Matthew Knight Arena. As a freshman two seasons ago, he scored what remains his career-high of 32 points in Cal’s win. Jordan is on a roll, averaging 18.5 points and shooting 17 for 32 from the 3-point arc the past four games. He leads the Pac-12 with 39 made 3-pointers.

* Oregon could be without senior point guard Oregon senior point guard Dylan Ennis, but the Ducks have plenty of depth. Ennis, a transfer from Villanova, was back in a protective boot Tuesday at practice after sitting out the first 12 games with a foot injury. Help off the bench starts with sixth-man Chris Boucher, a 6-10, 190-pound senior from Montreal, who averages 12 points and leads the team in rebounding (8.6) and blocked shots (3.1).

* The Bears don’t have all the good freshmen in this game, but they could have. Cal went hard in recruiting after Los Angeles prep shooting guard Tyler Dorsey, but Oregon won the battle, preventing the Bears from lining up Dorsey alongside freshmen Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown. Dorsey has scored 20 points three times and leads Pac-12 freshmen with a 14.6 average.


Football: Kenny Lawler’s dash to NFL leaves Cal starting over at wide receiver position

First-team All-Pac-12 wide receiver Kenny Lawler, who caught 13 touchdown passes as a junior this fall, announced Tuesday that he will bypass his final year of eligibility at Cal to enter the NFL draft.

Lawler said he went back and forth on the issue over recent weeks, before receiving feedback from the NFL after the Bears returned from their 55-36 win over Air Force at the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 29.

“I’m very thankful for what the NFL had to say,” he said, declining to provide specifics. “After the bowl game, I had another talk with my parents and made the best decision.”

Lawler joins record-setting quarterback Jared Goff as Cal juniors who are turning pro, although he said Goff’s announcement last week had no bearing on his decision.

A 6-foot-4 native of Pomona, Lawler caught 52 passes for 658 yards this season, averaging 12.7 yards per catch, despite being slowed by injury late in the season. But he got healthy in time to catch five passes for 75 yards, including three TDs, against Air Force.

Lawler caught 137 passes for 1,706 yards and 27 touchdowns in his three-year Cal career.

CBSSports.com rates Lawler as the ninth-best receiver in the 2016 draft class. NFLDraftGeek.com has him listed as the No. 17 wideout prospect.

“Where I fall in the draft is going to be determined by what I do in the combine,” said Lawler, who hopes to be invited to the NFL’s pre-draft camp. “I’m just going to remain humble and work so I can put myself in the best position to go as high as possible in the draft.”

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Basketball: Cal’s improved defense has squelched past seven opponents

Cal’s improved commitment to defense has limited seven straight opponents to 65 points or fewer. The Bears have won six of those games, losing 63-62 in overtime at Virginia, currently ranked No. 4 in the country.

Over those seven games, opponents have scored an average of 18.6 points below their season average.

Here’s a breakdown of those seven games:

Incarnate Word: Cal allowed 62; Incarnate averages 76. The difference: minus-14

Saint Mary’s: Cal allowed 59; Saint Mary’s averages 80. The difference: minus-21

Coppin State: Cal allowed 51; Coppin averages 72. The difference: minus-21

Virginia: Cal allowed 63; Virginia averages 76. The difference: minus-13

Davidson: Cal allowed 60; Davidson averages 82. The difference: minus-22

Colorado: Cal allowed 65; Colorado averages 80. The difference: minus-15

Utah: Cal allowed 58; Utah averages 82. The difference: minus-24

Average: Cal allowed 59.7; opponents average 78.3. The difference: minus-18.6


Basketball: Cal ready for first conference road test

The Cal and Saint Mary’s College basketball teams, having largely gorged on home cooking for the first two months of the season, will test the theory this week that defense travels.

The Golden Bears, whose 11-0 record at Haas Pavilion has fueled a 12-3 mark and 2-0 start to the Pac-12 schedule, visits Oregon on Wednesday, then Oregon State on Saturday. The Ducks and Beavers, a combined 17-1 at home, won’t be accommodating.

The Gaels, 13-1 overall and 4-0 in the West Coast Conference, are about to leave the Bay Area for the first time since March. Twelve of their victories have come at McKeon Pavilion to go with a win at Santa Clara and a four-point defeat at Cal. Saint Mary’s should be road-tested Thursday at Loyola Marymount and Saturday at Pepperdine.

No. 25 UCLA traveled last weekend for games against Washington and Washington State teams expected to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12, and lost twice. WCC power Gonzaga won at Santa Clara by two points and needed overtime to escape USF with a victory.

Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said it’s “100 percent” accurate that a good defense is the best company to keep on the road.

“No matter how good a shooting team you are, and we’re pretty good, on the road your margin for error is less and you better cushion yourself with your defense,” he said.

Cal guard Jordan Mathews expects a challenge in Oregon, but added, “We do what we do — move the ball, lock down on defense, just play hard.”

The Bears haven’t allowed any of their past five opponents to score more than 63 points, and they rank No. 8 in the NCAA in field-goal percentage defense at 36.9 percent. Cal is No. 30 nationally in defensive efficiency, according to statistician Ken Pomeroy.

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Basketball: Cal topples No. 21 Utah, 71-58

Some of the best players in recent Cal basketball history were among the 10,188 at Haas Pavilion on Sunday to watch the Golden Bears improve to 2-0 in the Pac-12 with a 71-58 win over No. 21 Utah.

Shareef Abdur Rahim, Leon Powe and Sean Lampley, sitting courtside, got another dose of what is becoming this Cal team’s identity: Defense.

“As long as I’m coaching . . . toughness, play hard and defend,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “When you have a level of toughness, a defensive identity, you have a chance to be very successful.”

Cal (12-3, 2-0) improved to 11-0 at home by holding the Utes to nearly 26 points below their average on 38.5-percent shooting. It was the fifth straight game the Bears’ opponent failed to convert 40 percent of its shots.

“I think our potential is really good,” said freshman forward Ivan Rabb, who had a career-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds. “We’re improving on defense. Everybody on the team is buying in. That’s why we’re playing so well lately.”

Utah (11-4, 0-2) will fall out of the Top-25 after losing at both Stanford and Cal.

Two nights after shutting down Colorado star forward Josh Scott, the Bears did their best to limit Utah sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. The 7-footer from Austria – projected as a first-round NBA draft pick next spring – didn’t make his first field goal until the final 5 minutes of the first half while laboring to a 19-point effort.

The Bears’ tag-team 7-foot duo of Kameron Rooks (6 points, 2 rebounds) and Kingsley Okoroh (5 rebounds, 3 blocks) kept Poeltl from getting comfortable and stayed on the floor even after getting into foul trouble.

“Poeltl’s better than I thought,” Martin said. “I thought Kam and King did another good job. That’s not an easy thing to do.”

Guard Jordan Mathews, whose three second-half 3-pointers keyed his 14-point performance, said the Bears are learning to count on their two big men.

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