Saturday, October 28, 2006


Never a truly dominant back, but always entertaining and explosive, Joe Igber might be my favorite Golden Bear of them all. He came to Berkeley as the most-decorated prep player in Hawai'i's history. He was quick and smart - but also very, very short. Joe was listed at 5'8" in the Cal media guide, which was generous - to my eye he stood no taller than 5'7" (and maybe a bit smaller than that). As a result Cal was the only BCS school to offer Igber a scholarship.

Igber's background was unusual for a D-1 prospect. His parents emigrated to Hawai'i from Nigeria, and Joe and his three siblings grew up in Palolo Housing on Oahu. Despite their lack of material resources, the Igbers stressed the intellectual - Joe Sr. taught at West Oahu Community College and his mother worked at a local preschool. With this foundation, Igber went to Cal to study and football was a bonus. Despite being a full foot shorter than many of his own linemen, Igber finished his four years at Cal as the school's 2nd all-time leading rusher to that point with 3,124 career yards. As a senior he gained 1,130 yards, capped by a 226-yard performance in the Big Game. Igber's running was the primary reason Cal won that game 30-7 and brought the Axe back to Berkeley for the first time in eight years.

Little Joe was an even smaller version of Barry Sanders - taking a few more losses than he should by dancing in the backfield, just so later he could break a 40-yard run to completely change the momentum of a game. An 80-yard run against Arizona State as a sophomore in 2000; a 28-yarder against Washington in 2002 that set up a touchdown in the streak-breaking 34-27 conquest of Washington; a 42-yard touchdown run that stuck a fork in Stanford midway through that 30-7 victory in Igber's final game.

Joe Igber was never going to make much of a pro, which was just fine with him. In fact, he turned down the invitations he did receive to NFL camps following his senior season to focus on his transition to graduate school, where he received a master's in structural engineering. Humble to the end, Igber was quoted in the locker room following his last Big Game as saying, "People will forget about me in the next couple of months, but I did what I came here to do....We got the Axe. That's all that matters."

Friday, October 27, 2006


I heard this evening that Marlin McKeever had passed away from a head injury suffered in a fall. He was only 66. He and his twin brother Mike were football stars for USC in the late 1950s, though Marlin was the more accomplished player - a two-time All American - and lasted 13 years in the NFL as a linebacker and occasional tight end. Mike died even younger - he was only 27 when he too died of a head injury suffered in a car crash.

The McKeevers were famed for their physical play on defense. Time Magazine once asked whether they were "too rough for football," after a late hit by Mike sent Cal halfback Steve Bates to the hospital with multiple fractures of his face in a 1959 game. This incident compelled Berkeley chancellor Glenn Seaborg to publicly call for the player's expulsion from college football.

Mike's daughter (and Marlin's niece) Teri has coached Cal's women's swim team for the past fifteen years. Condolences and best wishes to her and to the entire McKeever family. And to the Trojan family, too.


Essentially meaningless, but it passes for hoops news in late October. (Cal opponents in bold)

1. Florida, 2. North Carolina, 3. Kansas, 4. Ohio State, T5. Pitt, T5. UCLA, 7. LSU, 8. Georgetown, 9. Wisconsin, 10. Arizona, 11. Duke, 12. Alabama 13. Texas A&M, 14. Memphis, 15. Boston College, 16. Washington, 17. Marquette, 18. UConn, 19. Texas, 20. Syracuse, 21. Georgia Tech, 22 . Kentucky, 23. Creighton, 24. Tennessee, 25. Nevada

Cal opponents also receiving votes: San Diego State 24, Hofstra 20, DePaul 11 (Hofstra is in the Great Alaska Shootout)

Interesting that Rob Evans is still listed as the Pac 10's designated voter - I assume/hope this has transferred to Sendek. In reality, of course, the vote hasn't changed hands at all - it remains with ASU's Assistant SID/student manager/guy who sweeps the court after practice).

Link to full list here.


#45 - Regan Upshaw, Defensive End (1993-1995)
I feel a little conflicted about this choice. On the one hand, Upshaw was the most explosive pass rusher in modern Cal history. His burst off the edge, paired with that of linemate Duane Clemons, changed teams' game entire plans by limiting their seven-step drops and deep routes. In only three years (Upshaw declared for the NFL Draft as a junior) he racked up 28 sacks (2nd all-time) and 49 tackles for loss. While Andre Carter was a more complete player and therefore will rank higher on this list, no one was as disruptive to opposing offenses as Regan Upshaw.

On the other hand, I can't shake a small nagging feeling that Upshaw could have meant much more to Cal. First, he chose not to stay for his senior season (a season in which he would have added a lot to Mariucci's Aloha Bowl team). In fairness, the team was in turmoil as Keith Gilbertson spent Upshaw's junior year burning every bridge he could with players, fans and alumni. But Upshaw also racked up untimely penalties, a trend which continued into his professional career. And lastly, he introduced himself on MNF as having attended "Pittsburg High School" (this was the greatest offense, IMO).

On the whole, Upshaw's speed and athleticism were unrivaled in the Pac 10 during his career, and his statistics back up his inclusion in the Fab 50. He played a very solid Alamo Bowl in the win over Iowa - in fact, his crushing hit on QB Paul Burmeister triggered a poor pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by LB Jerrot Willard. He was named to Pro Football Weekly's All-America team following that junior season.

Upshaw was drafted 12th overall by Tampa Bay in 1996, and had an up-and-down career with the Bucs, Raiders, Redskins and Giants. He did start at DE for the Oakland Raiders in SB XXXVII, and again forced an interception with a hard hit on the QB - one of few highlights for the Raiders that day.


#46 - DAVE BARR, QUARTERBACK (1991-1994) The story of Dave Barr's Cal career will forever start with the words "what might have been." This is understandable, but unfair - Dave's career at Berkeley should be remembered for far more than his shoulder dislocation against the Washington Huskies in 1993, which cost the Bears that game and a possible conference championship. He should be remembered as the most efficient quarterback in the program's history.

Barr's career QB rating of 142.6 is the second-highest in school history, and he completed 63.5 of his 791 pass attempts for 6,305 yards and 48 touchdowns. Despite the injury, Barr's 1993 season ranks among the finest in California history. He completed an amazing 68% of his passes for 2619 yards and 21 touchdowns against 12 interceptions for a passer rating of 164.5, the highest in Cal history. He also led Cal's historic comeback against Oregon that year, rallying the Bears from a 30-0 deficit late in the 2nd quarter to win 42-41. After a shaky first quarter, Barr was on fire, finishing with 21-31 for 368 yards in the air. When Barr went down the Bears collapsed, dropping four straight games; Once he returned from injury, Cal began rolling again, and finished the regular season 8-4 after a 46-18 pasting of Stanford in Palo Alto. In the Alamo Bowl against Iowa, Barr completed 21 of 28 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns, and Cal romped over the favored Hawkeyes 37-3.

Unfortunately, Barr battled injury in his senior season of 1994 as well, missing the last three games and ushering in the Pat Barnes era as Cal's new starting QB. Despite all this missed time, and the fact that he played his first two years with a strong running back in Lindsey Chapman, Barr still ranks 7th all-time among Cal QBs for yards through the air. But what Cal fans remember is his efficiency, rarely missing an open receiver on intermediate and even deep patterns.

Dave was drafted in the 4th round of the 1995 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. After a brief stint with the Eagles and St. Louis Rams, he played for the Scottish Claymores of the WLAF. If not for his injuries, Dave Barr might have been Cal's greatest (and most storied) QB, but he makes our Top 50 in any event.

Thursday, October 26, 2006




ANNCR VO (contemptuous tone): "They" say he's the front runner for the Heisman Trophy


ANNCR VO: "They" think that Ohio State should get another Heisman - their 7th overall


ANNCR VO: Do they deserve it?


ANNCR VO: Just look at the record - corruption with boosters, trouble with the law....


ANNCR VO: ...And fans who masturbate in public libraries.


ANNCR VO: This December you can join Carl Monday and other right-thinking Heisman voters - and send "them" a message that enough is enough.


ANNCR VO: Because in your heart, you know they cheat.


VO: I'm Marshawn Lynch, and I approve this message, for real dawg.


I was a miserable 5-9 last week, so please don't take this post as instructional in any way (and of course please don't gamble to begin with).

Arizona State (-1.5) at Washington. ASU is favored because Washington's offense looks like a MASH unit - QB Carl Bonnell has a separated shoulder (but will play) and RB Kenny James is questionable with an ankle injury. I just don't see Washington losing three in a row. ASU's best lineman, Andrew Carnahan, is out for the year - and I think the Dawgs will feast on Carpenter. ASU's got better talent, but UW's got heart. UW 28 ASU 24

Washington State (+1) at UCLA. The game of the week in the Pac 10. I don't see Wazzu running on UCLA, and the Bruins D-line should be able to get to Brink on a fairly regular basis. This is more of a heart pick than anything else, 'cause I don't want Cal to be a must-win for Dorrell and his team. UCLA 24 Wazzu 13

USC (-11.5) at Oregon State. Are the Beavers back? Is SC looking ahead to their Oregon-Cal-UCLA-Notre Dame gauntlet? Maybe, and No. OSU has puzzled me this year with maddening inconsistency. I don't think that one solid game brings them "back," but they will have the best back on the field Saturday in Yvenson Bernard. Thanks to SC's injuries this has been the closest these two teams have been in talent differential since Carroll's first year. SC wins but I think the line is too generous. USC 27 Oregon State 17

Portland State at Oregon (no line). PSU is a pretty good team 1-AA. Oregon's a pretty good 1-A team. Oregon 45 Portland State 14

Other games:
Northwestern (+30) at Michigan. Michigan isn't scoring enough to cover this line. Michigan 34 Northwestern 10

Texas (-10.5) at Texas Tech. What the hell happened to Texas Tech? This has historically been a tough place for the Horns, but Leach's team is in disarray. Texas 35 Texas Tech 21

Tennessee (-3) at South Carolina. This is my ridiculous line of the week. Vols by at least a field goal. Tennessee 31 South Carolina 23

Georgia (+13.5) at Florida. The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (or not). Georgia isn't very good, and their only hope is to keep the score down. Florida has too many weapons for that to happen. Florida 24 Georgia 10

Oklahoma (+1.5) at Missouri. Sooners getting points against Missouri. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Oklahoma 27 Missouri 24

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


1. Herb Sendek assumes control of a struggling ASU basketball program. When he's not indulging in interpretive dance (left), Herb enjoys running boring half-court sets and alienating his fan base. Still, there's a good deal of optimism in Tempe...dare I say, Herb-mania? This is largely due to the fact that Herb Sendek is neither Rob Evans nor Dirk Koetter. It will be strange to see a fundamentally-sound Sun Devil squad, but the talent isn't there to make much of an improvement over last year's 9th place finish.

2. Tony Bennett (right) takes over for his cranky old man in Pullman. Bennett fils will always have a special place at the bottom of our cold, black heart for leading Wisconsin-Green Bay to an upset of Cal in the 1994 Tournament as an annoying, scrappy point guard. I know, the whole world thinks Wazzu is kitschy and cool, scoring forty points a game, whoo hoo! Not me - I hate you, Tony Bennett and I hated your old man and I hope you go 0-18 in conference. You won't of'll probably beat us in Pullman.

3. Josh Shipp (G/F - UCLA)
Lost in all the Budinger-mania is the return of Shipp (left), who was one of UCLA's primary scoring threats before losing most of last season to a hip injury. His return is a main reason UCLA is justifiably favored to repeat as conference champions. Big brother Joe was a standout for Cal from 2000-3.

4. Chase Budinger (F - Arizona)
The Chosen One, Budinger is touted as Lute's best recruit...ever? The hype machine may be cranked way up, but there's good reason. He's extremely athletic and has the requisite white guy funny haircut to ensure over-exposure by the WorldWide Leader. The hair is apparently closely cropped now, but here's betting that it's Morrison-length by season's end.

5. Spencer Hawes (C - Washington)
I know he's a Seattle kid and a Udub legacy, but it takes cojones to sit across from Roy Williams and say "Sir, I appreciate that I'm your top recruiting priority, and that yours is the premier program in the history of the sport, and that you're favored to win it all next year. But no sir, I cannot accept your scholarship offer...I will instead attend the University of Washington." Hawes is out with a knee but plans to return by 11/1; if he can get healthy, the 7-footer will start and immediately contribute for what was once a football school. *sniff*

6, 7. The Lopez Twins (C, F - Stanford)
"Hi, I'm Brook! I'm Robin! We're the only reason to watch Stanford basketball this year!"

8-9. The Tarver Brothers (G-Oregon State)
Josh was a medical redshirt last year; little brother Seth is a true freshman. Together they form a brand-new starting backcourt for Jay John's team. The Beavers return a lot of experience in the frontcourt, so the Tarvers' play will likely determine whether OSU climbs back to respectability.

10. The Galen Center (USC)
It's not literally a 'new face,' but the Trojans have finally ditched the dreary LA Sports Arena for a shiny new on-campus venue. A bit of good news for a program whose off-season alternated between tragic (the shooting death of Ryan Francis) and merely frustrating (Gabe Pruitt becoming academically ineligible for part of the '06-'07 season).


Cal's never done too well in the Heisman voting (of course, we haven't had many candidates):

* Chuck Muncie - second in 1975 (Heisman winner: Archie Griffin, Ohio State)
* Jackie Jensen - fourth in 1948 (Doak Walker, SMU)
* Joe Kapp - fifth in 1958 (Pete Dawkins, Army)
* Paul Larson - fifth in 1955 (Howard Cassady, Ohio State)
* Vic Bottari - fifth in 1938 (Davey O'Brien, TCU)
* Craig Morton - seventh in 1964 (John Huarte, Notre Dame)
* Joe Roth - ninth in 1976 (Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh)
* Steve Bartkowski - tenth in 1974 (Archie Griffin, Ohio State)

Other than Muncie, who got absolutely screwed by the usual media laziness and regional bias, none of these candidates was particularly close to winning (or should have been). Heisman Pundit has a terrific writeup of the injustice of the 1975 Heisman race here.

Cal won't win it this year, either - Ohio State's Troy Smith looks to have the Heisman in his back pocket unless he a) gets arrested or b) throws seven picks against Michigan. But the question is, can Cal junior RB Marshawn Lynch get an invitation to Nueva York for the big Heisman shindig? HP sees him finishing sixth if the vote were taken today, and only the top 5 get airfare and lodging.

Heisman campaigns are about glitz, SID-generated swag and websites nowadays. Cal has put up a Lynch for Heisman site ( which is pretty underwhelming considering the comp sci chops at a school like Cal. It's downright embarrassing when Rutgers puts together a much flashier and more informative site for a guy who isn't even a candidate. At least Auburn's site for Kenny Irons is appropriately primitive and full of fluff (did you know he won the off-season conditioning award in 2005?!?). Ohio State couldn't even bother putting a dedicated site together for Smith, since he's already been anointed the favorite.


#47 - Daymeion Hughes - Cornerback (2003-2006)
It's a little premature, I know, given that he still has five games left in his Golden Bear career. But for almost two years, Daymeion Hughes has been an absolutely dominant corner and he is on track to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back for 2006. On that basis, he merits inclusion in the Fab 50.

Hughes came to Cal from Crenshaw HS and made an immediate contribution as a true freshman, starting five games and recording two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He returned his first pick for a 72-yard touchdown against Oregon State. As a sophomore he started all but one game at corner, turning in particularly good performances against Stanford and Oregon State.

These two pretty good years were only a warmup for Hughes' junior season, when he emerged as the best corner in the conference. He picked off five passes and made 62 tackles - an unusually high number for a cornerback which speaks to his outstanding ball instincts and closing speed. His interception against BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl ended the Cougars' comeback hopes and gave Cal its second bowl victory in three seasons under Tedford. For his labors Hughes was named to the All-Pac 10 first team defense.

This year Hughes has raised his game yet again, effectively shutting down one half of the football field for every Golden Bear opponent. Through eight games he has seven interceptions and two touchdown returns. If the season ended today, Hughes' performance would rank second only to Deltha O'Neal's record-setting season in 1999 in the history of California DBs. If he maintains this level of play, he will likely win the Thorpe and surpass O'Neal - and we'll have to move him a bit higher on this list.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


#48 - Harvey Salem - Offensive Tackle (1979-1982)
Salem was thrust into Cal's starting lineup by coach Roger Theder as a freshman from El Cerrito High School. He never left, becoming one of the few four-year starters in Golden Bear history. Salem was voted Cal's top offensive lineman on three occasions, and was an all-Pac 10 selection in both his junior and senior years. After his senior campaign, in which Cal finished a surprising 7-4 under first-year coach Joe Kapp, Salem was named to the Sporting News' All-America first team and was also named a first-team academic All-American.

My favorite memory of Harvey Salem is from the aftermath of "The Play" against Stanford in 1982. When Kevin Moen took the ball into the end zone against Stanford, many Cal fans expected the play would somehow be overturned on a penalty. I was certainly one of them, and I watched the ensuing chaos on the field with great trepidation. Suddenly Harvey Salem, the two-year team captain, thrust the Axe high into the air, having received the word from officials that the play would stand. The cannon sounded, and Memorial Stadium erupted in joy.

Harvey Salem was drafted 19th overall by the Houston Oilers in 1983, and he played ten years in the NFL, most notably with Houston and the Denver Broncos. Today he is a football and track coach at Albany HS in the Bay Area.


#49 - Carl Van Heuit - Safety (1949-1950)

Standing only 5'8" and weighing 160 pounds, Carl Van Heuit was the most unlikely of All-Americans. And yet, when legendary coach Pappy Waldorf was asked to name the five greatest players during his storied career, he found room for Van Heuit alongside players like NFL Hall of Famer Otto Graham.

Van Heuit didn't even make the varsity squad as a sophomore, but as a JV (or 'Rambler') star he was awarded the Ken Cotton award as the most courageous player in the entire program. He earned a spot on the varsity squad for the 1949 Rose Bowl game against Northwestern. Van Heuit began the next year as Cal's starting safety, and led the team in interceptions with five, helping lead the Golden Bears to an undefeated regular season and encore performance in Pasadena. While Cal lost that game as well, 17-14 to Ohio State, Van Heuit was voted the team's Vard Stockton award as outstanding player in a bowl game.

In his senior campaign, Van Heuit again led the team in interceptions and earned first team All-American honors from Look Magazine and the Helms Foundation. His place in Golden Bear lore was cemented during that senior campaign when he ran down Washington's Hugh McElhenny from behind to preserve a 14-7 lead and ensure Cal of its third consecutive Rose Bowl appearance. While Waldorf's Bears lost yet again, to Michigan 14-6, Van Heuit played a tremendous game on defense and again received the Vard Stockton award. In addition to his heroics on defense, Van Heuit averaged 11 yards per punt return and never fumbled a punt during his two years of varsity play.

Van Heuit may have graduated, but he never left Cal. A Berkeley native, he served as an assistant coach for Cal's JV and freshman football teams as well as its rugby team. He also became one of Cal's most notable financial backers, and was voted Bear Backer of the Year in 1988. Carl died on January 6, 2002 after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease, but his name lives on the form of the Van Heuit baseball training center at Evans Diamond, and the Van Heuit Family scholarship fund, administered by the California Alumni Association.

A great Golden Bear in every sense of the phrase, Carl Van Heuit checks in at #49.


The summary of Coach Braun's Q&A is available here.

* DeVon Hardin's (left) recovery from off-season shoulder surgery appears to be on track. Nikola Knezevic has a gimpy knee, but can participate in drills. A pretty clean bill of health compared with seasons past.
* Braun will look for more outside scoring from his bigs, especially Jordan Wilkes. In theory this makes perfect sense, but I still have awful visions of Amit Tamir's senior season dancing in my head.
* Ayinde Ubaka will play both point and two-guard. If Knezevic is healthy and/or freshman Jerome Randle can handle the half-court set, I assume we'll be seeing quite a bit of Ubaka at the two in conference play.
* Some optimism that Omar Wilkes will create more at his natural SG position than he could playing the 3 last year.
* No comments on Randle, which I thought was odd given the whispers that he might be the fastest guard we've ever had.

Most publications place us as an NIT or bubble NCAA team. I think that's about right, but there's the potential for us to slide into the top four teams in the Pac (which would probably get us a bid).

Non-conference schedule:
11/15: v Utah Valley State
11/18: at San Diego State
11/20: v Santa Clara
11/23: v Marshall (Great Alaska Shootout)
11/29: v Kansas State
12/3: v Nevada (in San Jose)
12/8: v Chicago State (Golden Bear Classic - other game is E Michigan v San Diego)
12/19: v Furman
12/23: at DePaul

Interesting slate - for what it's worth we'll probably be underdogs to SD State, K-State, Nevada and DePaul. The Shootout has lost its luster - the rest of the field includes Loyola Marymount, Anchorage (of course), Missouri-KC, Pacific, Hawaii and Hofstra. That's right - we're the only major conference participant. Strange.


Today starts a countdown of the 50 greatest Golden Bear football players in the program's history. My hope is to run this as a regular feature over the next five weeks, culminating during Big Game week. This is hardly scientific - it goes without saying that all I know about many of these players (pre-1975) is what I've read and what I've heard from Older Blues who were present in the day. It's nearly impossible to compare players from different eras and positions, but that's what makes this fun.

#50 - Steve Sweeney, Wide Receiver (1970-1972)

Kevin Moen was just entering the sixth grade when Steve Sweeney made what was at that time considered the greatest play in Big Game history. On a rainy day and muddy field in 1972, the underdog Golden Bears hosted Stanford, who had won the previous two Rose Bowls. Cal entered the contest a lowly 2-8, led by a freshman quarterback named Vince Ferragamo. Ferragamo played the part, throwing four interceptions including one less than three minutes to play and Stanford ahead 21-18. Improbably, Stanford QB Mike Boryla threw an interception of his own and Cal took over at midfield with 1:13 left. Ferragamo drove the Bears down to the Stanford seven yard line, but with only three seconds left, Cal faced one last chance at victory. Ferragamo, his jersey black with mud, dropped back and found a diving Sweeney in the southwest corner of the end zone for the winning score.

So, Steve Sweeney's career at Cal ended as it had begun - in the first game of the 1970 season against Oregon, the sophomore from Yakima, WA broke free for a 71-yard touchdown pass from QB Dave Penhall. He would go on to score 21 touchdowns in three years of play, which today places him third among all Cal receivers in scoring. Thirteen of those scores came in his senior year of 1972, along with 52 receptions. For his career Sweeney reeled in 132 passes for 2043 yards, and he left Cal as the school's all-time leader in receptions and yardage. The dependable receiver was twice named first-team all-Pac 8, and the Bear Backers voted him MVP after his senior season.

Sweeney was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the 9th round of the 1973 NFL draft, and played one forgettable year before retiring.

Ferragamo to Sweeney

Monday, October 23, 2006


From the WorldWide Leader's "Premium" preview of Cal basketball:

"I think we'll have a different offensive philosophy this season," Braun said. "People have complained in the past that my teams don't run enough, but one year I was at Eastern Michigan, we finished third in the country in scoring. "It's just that I've had some great post players at Cal, the most recent being Leon (Powe), and you coach to your team's strengths. This year, we should have the ability to run, score more in the transition game and really expand the offense."

I'd like to believe that, Coach Braun. Unfortunately, I'm burdened by a set of reasonably well-functioning eyes, a cerebral cortex, and at least ten years of clear memories.

In the good news department, it looks like Leon Powe is going to make the Celtics. Final cut is 10/30.


First, a word about our old nemesis Tyrone Willingham.

With Willingham, what you see is what you get. You get a guy who is absolutely obsessed with discipline and preparation. For the past several years Washington has displayed about as much consistency as Holly Golightly on a crystal bender. Under Snake and the Fatman, UW didn't block or tackle at D-1 levels, and they were good for 5-7 hideous mental mistakes a game. Sometimes they didn't bother to show up. This UW team comes ready to play. They absolutely took the game to Cal along both lines, and their secondary played a superb game for about three quarters.

But then there's the other side of Ty Willingham. His bland as a tuna fish sandwich on wonder bread personality drives sportswriters and fans to distraction, and it's reflected on the field as well. UW was in Saturday's game because of the first Ty - but they failed to put us away because of the 2nd Ty. To wit:

* He didn't show nearly enough faith in Bonnell to win the football game with his feet. Look, I know it's your backup QB and you don't have much behind him. But Willingham was happy to call for five and seven-second drops in the passing game (which expose his QB's blind side) - why not call for more QB draws and rolls and just tell him to hook slide if he's in trouble? A Bonnell rollout would have made a lot more sense than running Louis Rankin or Kenny James up the middle again and again and again...
* Which brings up UW's absolutely maddening play selection in 3rd and short. Time after time they gave the ball to the deep I-back (James or Rankin) and on all but one occasion they failed to convert. As good as UW's line was in pass protect, they really struggled to get a consistent push in the run game. This was apparent after 15 minutes, but OC Tom Lappano kept calling the same play in short yardage.
* Ty called one gadget play, and it worked bigtime (the flea flicker pass). It wouldn't have hurt to roll the dice more than once, particularly given Cal's tendency to overpursue. I was shocked that we didn't see at least one reverse.

Willingham definitely has the Huskies back in the Pac-10 mix, and that's a testament to his ability to manage a program. It will take more, however, to win conference titles and satisfy a notoriously tempermental fan base. On Saturday, he had the chance to step on Cal's collective throat and he chose to play it safe. That won't do in this conference.

Cal Summary:

OL - TIVO doesn't lie. Our lines were handled for most of the game. I doubt that anyone on the O Line grades out very well. This is the 2nd straight game that we've been average-to-poor in pass protection. I could accept it a bit more easily against M'Kristo Bruce and the gang than I can against this Washington defense, which is solid but unspectacular. We also had a couple of very costly penalties, including a false start by Robertson on the go-ahead drive. Robertson also whiffed on a block that busted our 4th and 1 try deep in UW territory.

QB - Longshore is a puzzle. He did feel some pressure, but on more than a few occasions he simply missed open receivers on three and five step drops. He had his greatest difficulties throwing into the wind during the first and third quarters - his throws tended to sail, indicating an overcompensation on Nate's part.

RB/FB - Lynch put the team on his back in the 2nd half. I was particularly impressed by his ball management - Willingham emphasizes the strip and Husky defenders were going for the football on every carry. An historic performance that I will remember long after Marshawn drives his equipment cart out of Berkeley. Forsett had a hard time finding holes, but made a nice reception in the 1st Q; I thought Storer had an unusually poor day blocking though it was nice to see him get two touches (!).

WR/TE - Receivers had their worst outing since Tennessee. I just don't believe the UW secondary is good enough to prevent DeSean from getting seperation at least occasionally. Opposing coaches will try to take him out of the game, but we still need to find a way to get him more than three touches. Hawkins got less attention, but had some very costly drops. Jordan was OK and made a crucial catch on a difficult pass in the last drive. TE Craig Stevens played a very good game - maybe his best of the year.

DL - The D line as usual played solid against the run, but couldn't get any pressure rushing four. This continues to be a concern, and may force us to blitz more than we'd like against the LA schools.

LB - Linebackers played a whale of a game. Desmond Bishop was on fire and played his best game as a Bear - I counted one significant mistake in sixty minutes of football - highlighted by sixteen tackles and a pick. Zach Follett made a couple of drive-ending plays, including an improbable diving interception. Our entire linebacking corps is so athletic, they essentially take away the other team's screen game. Willingham went away from it after our LB's blew a couple up in the first half. Worrell Williams had a great interception, taking the ball away from a UW receiver.

DB - Secondary was uneven. SQT continues to improve, but still gets lost as he did on the Russo score right before halftime. On a positive note, his run support continues to be very good, and he hasn't gone into the tank despite some early-season difficulties. Hughes was generally good, though he did fail to check Marlon Wood on the Hail Mary and he got beat in the 4th quarter (only to be saved by when Brandon Hampton tipped the ball away at the last second). Safety play was generally good, though we failed to pick up the TE on a couple of occasions.

Special teams - Larson was typically brilliant and Schneider was 3-4 including a wind-aided 50 yarder. The return game was non-existent thanks to a good performance by UW's punter.

Overall - Washington gave a terrific effort and deserves all sorts of credit for their preparation and energy. The fact that Cal came back and won a tight game speaks volumes about its ability to handle adversity. That said, Cal should have won this game by two touchdowns and would have if not for breakdowns in the passing game. Our performance on Saturday won't cut it against UCLA, and it won't keep us in the ballgame against USC. The Rose Bowl Express is still on schedule, but it's time for a bit of mid-season maintenance in the off week.


Seen this morning on the way out the door: Woody Paige and Skip Bayless debating who should be #2 behind Ohio State is like me debating my mailman about favorite 16th century astronomers. It's insane - the stuff of nightmares. I hate ESPN.

Thoughts on the weekend's games:

* Nebraska is a lot better than I thought. I continue to think Callahan's offense is silly, but I was surprised at their defensive effort v Texas. The Longhorns, on the other hand, hit as hard as any team outside of Ann Arbor.
* UCLA's come from ahead loss to Notre Dame is Exhibit A of why the UCLA faithful want their coach's head on a stick. Actually, just watch UCLA's last possession right before they punted into the winds of destiny. Your little sister would have the cojones to throw it, at least once.
* Oregon's BCS aspirations: 9/2/06 - 10/21/06. Rest in peace.
* UW quarterback Carl Bonnell injured his non-throwing shoulder and may not play Saturday. The big question - do you burn Jake Locker's redshirt if Bonnell can't go?
* ASU's attendance is down 10% from last year. Frank Kush rolls over in his grave. Well, he would if he was dead.
* Clemson looked great against Georgia Tech, but I can't shake the feeling that they're going to stub their toe in their last 4 games. Of course, even if they run the table they won't get to the championship game unless BC loses as well. In any event there's still a good chance the ACC champ will wind up ranked behind Boise, giving the SmurfTurfers an automatic BCS bid (more on that later).
* Not much change in the BCS. Cal continues to be ranked ahead of Tennessee, which makes my head hurt.