LB Worrell Williams (PHOTO CREDIT - Michael J. Burns)

2007 Statistics

Coach: Jeff Tedford
50-26, 6 years
2007 Record: 7-6
at Colorado State WON 34-28
at Oregon WON 31-24
at UCLA LOST 21-30
at Arizona State LOST 20-31
USC LOST 17-24
at Washington LOST 23-37
at Stanford LOST 13-20
Air Force WON 42-36

2007 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

It was a tale of two seasons - mini seasons, at that - for what Cal went through in last year's up-then-down results. The teams' 5-0 record and a No.2 ranking had then-six -year head coach Jim Tedford licking his chops, especially since his guys had just beaten Oregon in that fifth week and USC had just gone down to lowly Stanford to open the door to a conference title (that has eluded Cal since 1958, when it was the Pacific Coast Conference still). Then one costly error - a late INT by first-time starter Kevin Riley which cost Cal the Oregon State game - seemed to be the opening of a bad karma floodgate, and like so many others during the topsy-turvy '07 season, the Golden Bears quickly fell from grace as two three-game skids (all losses to conference foes) ensued. Suffice to say, for a coach who has gotten his guys to five straight bowl games (4-1) after Cal went to only five total bowl games in the prior 50 campaigns, we expect a rebound for the team that was (until last year) Southern Cal's main concern and therefore the second-best league squad since the recent Trojan dynasty began (as Tedford started here in Berkeley.)

Tedford has a unique, if not direct offensive style, which he dares you to stop. Nothing too complicated, he relies on his superior athletes getting the rock in open space and making defenders miss. Riley came in during the bowl win over Air Force to supply the needed points to overcome the Falcon's persistent running attack, and along with his work while incumbent Nate Longshore was rehabbing this spring, Riley has a shot at making what was to be next off-season's transition at QB happen by the opener, if inside sources are accurate. We doubt the off year Longshore had (due to injury and being rushed back after the staff panicked from Riley's mistake at Corvallis) is indicative of what he will do his final campaign, but stuff happens, and heir-apparent Riley needs reps and could force a QB conundrum, the good kind. The rest of the offense is fine, even with the loss of the starting WRs and much of the RB unit. Talent in the wings has been waiting, and after the dismal showing of the hyped WRs, new blood will actually help. The line will make sure it all works, as will new coordinator Frank Cignetti

Strong D was the main reason Cal was seen as such a threat during USC's reign, up until last year, that is. To combat the use of spread formations by most current foes, the new 3-4-4 look will help the defense return to form. Speed coming off of the edges is needed, especially with big DEs who aren't really rush types. The newer DEs are faster, but it is the LBs - Follett, Fowler, Mohamed - who will bring the pressure Tedford knows is needed so opposing QBs don't have the time to just pick his guys apart. Last year, only 22 sacks shows you how the failure to bring pressure sequentially brought the entire D down. This time, all senior LBs will be the glue that ties together a solid line and a fledging secondary (that could be anywhere from decent to great) for Cal's return to prominence.

The Golden Bears face one of the most challenging non-conference slates for a BCS-aligned team in the land - reborn Michigan State and upstart Colorado State both come to town while a trip to College Park (MD) poses an early challenge similar to the trip to Knoxville (for a loss) two years ago. The Pac Ten part of things looks tough, but also looks favorable for Cal to build momentum with home stands versus surging Arizona State and revamping Oregon for the eventual (revenge) away showdowns with USC and Oregon State. So many teams are improving their systems in this league that no game seems easy anymore...if local nemesis Stanford could beat USC, and then best Cal after losing the prior five tries (same story line with Washington), we can declare that parity has officially reached the Pac Ten and anything is possible for any team.

Hard work pays off, and it seems contagious, too. Accordingly, Tedford leads by example with the air mattress he keeps in his office for those long nights. When this offense is running well, it will make Cal look unstoppable, even when the D waivers a bit. But the D won't waiver too much, so expectations are high for the Bay Area's best. Still, remember last season's collapse has to be overcome. Is this team good enough to challenge for the conference crown? Definitely, but so are a few others, and Cal's resurgence will just add to the drama. They also have the wares to make a BCS run, regardless of the conference outcome, so Tedford just has to keep his team focused to assure a double-digit win total and a New Year's (or later) bowl appearance. It's the golden road to unlimited devotion for Tedford, and the Golden Bears are ready to travel to their '08 destiny with everything that was missing last year.

Projected 2008 record: 8-4
LB Anthony Felder (PHOTO CREDIT - Michael J. Burns)
QB - 4 DL - 3.5
RB - 3 LB - 5
WR - 2.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 3.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Nate Longshore, 230-384-13, 2580 yds., 16 TD

Rushing: Jahvid Best, 29 att., 221 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Cameron Morrah, 13 rec., 155 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Jordan Kay, 13-20 FG, 48-48 PAT, 87 pts.

Punting: None

Jordan Kay, 13-20 FG, 48-48 PAT, 87 pts.

Tackles: Worrell Williams, 105 tot., 57 solo

Sacks: Zack Follett, 5.5 sacks

Interceptions: Syd'Quan Thompson, Anthony Felder, Bernard Hicks, Derrick Hill - 1 each

Kickoff Returns: Jahvid Best, 15 ret., 27.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: None


OFFENSE: Justin Forsett-TB, Robert Jordan-WR, Lavelle Hawkins-WR, Craig Stevens-TE, Mike Gibson-OT, Brian DeLaPuente-OG, DeSean Jackson-WR (NFL)
DEFENSE: John Allen-DE, Matt Malele-DT, Justin Moye-SLB, Brandon Hampton-CB, Thomas DeCoud-FS, Andrew Larson-P

What seemed to be Nate Longshore's destiny - to graduate as the starter here - is now in jeopardy after his injury this spring gave Kevin Riley the second chance he needs. Riley's first chance came in the '07 Oregon State game - his 20-for-34, 294-yard, two-TD breakout party was compromised by his one INT that led to the winning Beaver score. Longshore had been injured in a win against Oregon's excellent '07 squad the prior week, so since Nate was then kinda healed for UCLA and Riley seemed to not be quite ready to secure wins, Longshore returned under center as starter. But the play calls were as much to protect Longshore from damage as they were to get yards, and when Longshore couldn't move the same as prior to being hurt, he became the liability and the losses piled up. Only two of Longshore's 13 INTs occurred before the injury, making his TD: INT ratio 9:11 during the last seven games. Riley redeemed himself in the Air Force game (16-for-19, 269 yards and three TDs to earn MVP) and now seems poised, after taking most of the first team reps this spring, to challenge Longshore outright for command of this offense. The No.6 Prospect coming in, Riley will be the man in 2009, so for a few reasons, Riley will be found under center, regardless of the breakdown. Coach Tedford will know which guy can run his offense best.

Running in this offense will be Jahvid Best's job. Best tore a 7.6 yards per carry pace as a true frosh, tallying 10-yards (or more) gains 36% of the time with his direct style. Injured this spring, Best gave way to another four-star recruit, RS frosh Tracy Slocum, for the majority of the spring reps, and reviews are excellent for his abilities, too. Slocum's developments allow the sting from losing top reserve James Montgomery (transfer to Washington State) to keep from affecting the unit (Montgomery was expected to start if Best wasn't ready). The 2006 four-star guy was Shane Vereen, but his hamstring this spring kept his efforts limited. This champion sprinter redshirted in '07, so his potential could wind up being anywhere on the map. With Will Ta'ufo'ou banging heads and getting a touch or two per game, the running game can get itself back over 200 yards per game. Yards could also come directly from Zach Smith and/or Brian Holley to keep defenders honest.

The passing game sees all new faces. Mike Calvin uses his size (as well as his soft hands) for circus catches regularly. Moreover, Calvin is already a complete receiver for all dimensions, so he should be an early "go to" type. Sprinter Jeremy Ross uses his RB background to make special moves when in open space, and his blocking abilities secure his starting spot. Not happy at Florida, Nyan Boateng was found several times behind the DBs this spring. Even with his incomplete skill set (he needs to improve his route running), Boateng is the best athlete in the corps and will have to really try not to vault into a starting spot. Cunningham is a decent extra receiver, but the senior has yet to truly break out (same for Sean Young). The trio of incoming snarlers makes this a deadly-but-inexperienced group, one that won't take long to adjust to their new roles as each figures out what is expected. Cameron Morrah is in line to replace Craig Stevens, but some unfortunate luck with asthma meant lots of time for Tad Smith. Smith looks like a better solution with his size-speed-soft hands-combination, but Morrah is a step faster and the spot seems like his to lose.

After staring the same five guys in every game, the OL infuses some new blood. Guard Rich Fisher has received rave reviews and looks set to take over for De La Puente. Ex-DE Chet Teofilo moves well, and he also looks like a stout replacement with better speed than his predecessor. Big Mike Tepper (weight room maven) seems like an all-conference type after the OL allowed only 11 sacks, so he moves over to the left side. Malale is another big, athletic plower whose footwork is equal to his pure power. Still, the center is the best blocker for Cal. All-American Alex Mack (Rimington finalist in '07) is an ex-wrestler whose expert calls for the needed blocking schemes makes him a sure Sunday ticket. The brief shining moments displayed by green reserves Cheadle, Boskovich and Schwartz have us thinking injuries wouldn't affect this group for long, even with all of the backups being underclassmen.

The new coordinator, Frank Cignetti, is also the QBs coach, and he brings NFL experience with him to try and return the swagger this offense had for years. Tedford has mentored six first round NFL draft choices as a QBs coach himself, but his knowledge of all things offensive usually produces a balanced attack (ran it 441 times while passing it 443 in '07). If Cal can bring its running game back to the 200+ yards per week range, the Bears will make their head coach back into the biggest local hero since Jerry Garcia.


C Alex Mack (PHOTO CREDIT - Michael Pimentel)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Nate Longshore-Sr (6-5, 233) Kevin Riley-So (6-2, 224)
FB Will Ta'ufo'ou-Sr (5-11, 253) Zack Smith-Sr (5-10, 215)
Brian Holley-Jr (5-9, 224)
TB Jahvid Best-So (5-10, 193) Tracy Slocum-So (5-10, 198)
Shane Vereen-Fr (5-10, 192)
WR Jeremy Ross-So (5-11, 208) LaReylle Cunningham-Sr (6-1, 205)
WR Michael Calvin-Fr (6-2, 202) Nyan Boateng-Jr (6-2, 210)
TE Cameron Morrah-Jr (6-4, 245) Skylar Curran-Jr (6-4, 256)
Tad Smith-Jr (6-5, 265)
OT Mike Tepper-Sr (6-7, 321) Matt Laird-So (6-7, 305)
OG Richard Fisher-So (6-4, 276) Mark Boskovich-So (6-4, 301)
C Alex Mack-Sr (6-5, 316) Chris Guarnero-So (6-2, 275)
OG Noris Malele-Sr (6-2, 303) Justin Cheadle-Fr (6-2, 303)
OT Chet Teofilo-Sr (6-3, 316) Mitchell Schwartz-Fr (6-6, 330)
K Jordan Kay-Sr (5-9, 201) Joe Robles-So (5-10, 197)



The downslide seen defensively won't continue. The two seasons prior to '07 saw a total of four games where foes went over the 30-point barrier; last year, six foes went over that magic point line, and four were losses. Bob Gregory has allowed around 23 points per game since arriving here as coordinator, so last year's 26 ppg average seems like an anomaly. The biggest slip was in the run defense, where 40 more yards per game were allowed from the prior year's average.

The front seven of '07 began with only two returning starters, partially explaining those results. This year, six of the front seven return as starters - things look up for plugging holes. Rulon Davis had leg and knee troubles to limit his starting status last year, but the ex-Marine is back and proving why he is the best one-on-one lineman on the roster. Davis's leadership is invaluable. Brick Muller Award winner (for team's Best Defensive Lineman) Tyson Alualu slid over to end (from tackle) nicely to start every game on the outside. But more than their 22-sack total has to be found (last in the Pac Ten). Cameron Jordan has taken the corner in his career development. Another big DE, Jordan gets off the edge incredibly fast for his size and has been using his hands better throughout spring ball. Browner is a true rush end, and Ernest Owusu has sack artist written all over his freshman destiny. Cody Jones is found in opposing backfields quite often. Funny, Jones at tackle plays lighter than most of the Golden Bear ends. This is a reason for the newly seen 3-4-4 alignments unveiled this spring - shifting and stunting will bring power from all angles. The girth Kane and former No.5 DT prospect Hill supply will work better on obvious running downs. Tosh Lupoi has taken over after a distinguished career here, and the soon-to-be 27-year old is the catalyst for better performance with his motivational dimensions.

The LBs are led by senior SLB Zack Follett. Even after missing two-plus games (neck stinger), Follett easily finished first in team sacks (5.5) and TFLs (12.5) with his optimal size-speed mix. Williams seems just as fast as All-Pac Ten selection Follett, and a size bigger. The Sacramento native helped secure the Tennessee win with his blitz-induced forced fumble and subsequent 44-yard fumble return for the score, adding his efforts to the four team INTs earned to show how the D bailed itself out after allowing the Vols 33 points. Behind natural leader Williams, D.J. Holt has proven to be everything his prep accolades hinted towards (great instincts) and will just have to wait for his turn by playing on the outside in the four-LB alignments. All-conference (Honorable Mention) Anthony Felder finally had a huge year after making Freshman All-American; he proves his potential is likely still growing. Mohamed is better in coverage, while Young will have to watch out for JUCO junior Devin Bishop (younger brother of Desmond Bishop) after he shot up the depth chart this spring. All senior starters and depth capable of stepping up if/when needed makes this one of the top LB units in the nation and another major reason the run stopping number can do nothing but improve. The LBs are also the underneath coverage, and by sticking tight, they were a key reason the DBs were forced to make so many plays last year. That's fine, for the secondary has been consistent for four years and counting, a great asset in this passing community out west.

Syd-Quan Thompson is on the verge of greatness, finding his name thrown around with the likes of former Pac Ten Defensive POTY Dante Hughes. The former in-state "Mr. Football" is finding his game even more after starting since his RS freshman year. At 5'9, "Syd the Kid" uses technique to compensate for the size he gives up to 6-foot-plus WRs. Chris Conte just killed as a true frosh (his 32 stops were the most since Donnie McCleskey had 45 in '02), bumping up from safety to start at corner by the Wazzu game. Heady Charles Amadi is the reserve with experience and speed, but he will have to stay on his toes to fend off Darian Hagan's solid spring efforts for any nickel assignments not given to an extra/fourth LB. Marcus Ezeff was learning the ropes until a leg injury curtailed his starting assignment, something he never got back once the ROVER spot went to Bernard Hicks. The Santa Rosa product still finished with more tackles than Hicks, who now bumps back over to FS. Basically, deductive football logic through statistical analysis shows that without last year's leading tackler (McCloud), the ability now to bring down ball carriers who make it into the secondary is suspect until proven. DC Gregory agrees, "I think we need better tackling from our safeties, better communication. They are all solid guys. (But) we don't have one player who stands out." Scout team POTY D.J. Campbell and junior Brett Johnson have put pressure on Hicks and Ezeff, but without either newbie challenging the starters for reps this spring, signs aren't as strong from the safety unit. And that's not a good sign in this league. Cal isn't in trouble, but they have to shore up their deep middle coverage early on to avoid being exploited once the conference big boys come a' callin'.

If the run stopping improves as expected, the popular choice will be to pass early and often, with foes possibly starting with the pass to soften up the front seven's commitment in the box. Mature LBs shouldn't fall for this, and Cal can again ride consistent defense back to the conference's top half statistically.


LB Zack Follett (PHOTO CREDIT - Mike Wondolowski)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Rulon Davis-Sr (6-5, 281) Keith Browner-So (6-6, 264)
DT Cody Jones-Jr (6-4, 276) Michael Costanzo-So (6-2, 302)
DT Mika Kane-Sr (6-2, 311) Derrick Hill-So (6-2, 298)
DE Tyson Alualu-Jr (6-3, 290) Cameron Jordan-So (6-4, 286)
SLB Zack Follett-Sr (6-1, 238) Eddie Young-So (6-0, 230)
MLB Worrell Williams-Sr (6-2, 250) D.J. Holt-Fr (6-1, 255)
WLB Anthony Felder-Sr (6-3, 235) Mike Mohamed-So (6-3, 229)
CB Chris Conte-So (6-3, 198) Darian Hagan-So (6-0, 181)
CB Syd'Quan Thompson-Jr (5-9, 184) Charles Amadi-So (5-10, 182)
ROV Marcus Ezeff-So (5-11, 208) D.J. Campbell-Fr (5-11, 194)
FS Bernard Hicks-Sr (5-11, 210) Brett Johnson-Jr (6-1, 192)
P Bryan Anger-Fr (6-4, 196)` Ryan Theimer-Fr (6-2, 196)




Jordan Kay can't have Tedford sleeping well after going 7-for-14 from 30 yards and out; his 47-yard career long pales compared to Joe Robles' three 50-yard conversions from his prep career. Ex-punter Andrew Larson used a rare combination of kicking away while also aiming masterfully to produce consistency and the nation's 18th-ranked net results. Efficiency like this wins pivotal field position battles. Replacement Bryan Anger has shown similar tendencies, so expect more of the same in this department. The runbacks on punts have Thompson and backup RB Shane Vereen vying for reps. With Best hurting his hip on special teams, both of these main cogs are a risk to put back there being made to take shots while exposed.