Pac-12: C.J. Anderson

Pac-12 players in the Super Bowl

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
5:30
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Another Super Bowl is in the books, and Pac-12 alumni played a major role in the Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos. Is it any surprise that the team with the most Pac-12 players won the game? (Hint, hint, Mr. Elway).

In all, there were 16 active players on both rosters: 11 for the Seahawks and five for the Broncos. There are other Pac-12 players on the rosters or practice squads, but they were either injured, suspended or inactive for XLVIII.

The standout was former USC linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was named MVP for an inspired defensive performance. The Pac-12 had hit a bit of an MVP dry spell. After John Elway (Stanford) won the MVP in 1999, the league went more than a decade without having an MVP. Now it has two in the last four years after Aaron Rodgers (Cal) was MVP of XLV, and now it's Smith's turn.

Here’s a look at how the the Pac-12 alumni performed.

Seattle Seahawks
  • Doug Baldwin, WR, Stanford: Started at wide receiver. Led the Seahawks with five catches for 66 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown. Also had an assisted tackle on special teams.
  • Derrick Coleman, RB, UCLA: Recorded one tackle on special teams.
  • Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Caught four balls for 65 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown.
  • Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal: Started at running back. Carried 15 times for 39 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.
  • Brandon Mebane, DT, Cal: Posted three tackles, including a tackle for a loss.
  • Zach Miller, TE, ASU: Started at tight end. Had one catch for 10 yards and recovered an onside kick.
  • Mike Morgan, LB, USC: Appeared, but did not record any stats.
  • Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford: Started at left cornerback. Posted three tackles (two solo) with one pass defended. Left game with an injury in the fourth quarter.
  • Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Crowned Super Bowl MVP. Returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown and recovered a fumble to go along with 10 tackles (six solo) and a defended pass.
  • Walter Thurmond, CB, Oregon: Started at cornerback. Posted three tackles (one solo).
  • Max Unger, C, Oregon: Started at center.
Denver Broncos

California Bears season preview

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
10:30
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We continue our day-by-day snapshots of each Pac-12 team heading into the 2013 season in reverse alphabetical order with the California Golden Bears.

California

Coach: Sonny Dykes 22-15 (First season at Cal)

2012 record: 3-9 (2-5 Pac-12 North)

Key losses: WR Keenan Allen, C Brian Schwenke, CB Steve Williams, DE Kendrick Payne, RB C.J. Anderson, RB Isi Sofele

[+] EnlargeSonny Dykes
Norbert von der Groeben/GoldenBearSports.comSonny Dykes will look to true freshman Jared Goff to lead a revamped Bears offense.
Key returnees: DE Deandre Coleman, RB Brendan Bigelow, LB Nick Forbes, K Vince D’Amato, WR Chris Harper

Newcomer to watch: We’ve been hearing some buzz around this true freshman quarterback named Jared Goff.

Biggest games in 2013: Take your pick. The Big Game (Nov. 23) is always the biggest, but there are plenty more with Northwestern coming for the opener (Aug. 31), No. 2 Ohio State a couple of weeks later (Sept. 14) and then Oregon two weeks after that (Sept. 28).

Biggest question mark: Regardless of who was going to take over at quarterback, he was going to be a rookie. But Dykes went with the youngest of the young in tapping Goff to be his guy. Considered the jewel of the 2012 recruiting class, Goff now becomes the face of the new-look Bears and their “Bear Raid” offense. And with youth and inexperience come questions. How will he handle Cal’s brutal schedule? How does he handle the highs and lows of the position? Can a true freshman be a leader? Perhaps the biggest question of them all: Did Dykes make the right call? Wins and/or competitive performances against some top-notch teams will go a long way to answering that. This decision will likely define Dykes’ first season as Cal’s head coach.

Forecast: A look at the schedule shows a potentially gloomy forecast. Northwestern and Ohio State paired with a Pac-12 North docket and USC and UCLA from the South seems daunting even if they had a veteran-heavy team, which they don’t.

But bear in mind it took Dykes some time to get things moving at Louisiana Tech. In his first season, the Bulldogs were 5-7 and ranked 59th nationally with 29.1 points per game. In 2011, they improved to 8-5 and jumped to 42nd in scoring offense (30 points per game). Last season, they were 9-3 and led the country with 51.5 points per game, and they were two points shy of knocking off Texas A&M.

And this is a team loaded with potential -- especially at the wide receiver spot, at which Goff will have a host of talented young playmakers at his disposal. From Harper and Kenny Lawler to Darius Powe and big-bodied Richard Rodgers (and about four or five others), there is no shortage of talented pass-catchers for Goff to target. And many are excited to see what Bigelow can do at running back with more opportunities and touches.

Defensively, the Bears are going against the trend in the conference and switching to an even-front defense under Andy Buh. Coleman is an A-list defensive linemen, though his contributions often get lost in the shuffle in a league with other A-list defensive linemen. The return of Stefan McClure -- a highly touted cornerback who missed last season with an injury -- quietly boosts what could be a sneaky good defense.

A new coaching staff brings hope and excitement, and that’s a good thing for a program that could use a little of both. But expectations are best tempered as the Bears undergo a complete overhaul on both sides of the ball and grow with their true freshman quarterback.
Ted spent much of the past two weeks looking at individuals from the league who are coming back. But what about from a team standpoint? As is always the case, we have to say goodbye to some folks who have graduated, departed early, transferred or simply chose to follow another path in life. What's left in the pantry?

Today we're going to take a look at what each team has coming back in terms of yards, attempts and touchdowns in the run game. Earlier today we looked at the South. Now we'll look at the North. "Team" carries are not taken into account looking ahead to 2013, but negative yards in 2012 are. Remember also that sacks are (for some redonkulous reason) counted as rushing attempts.

Here's a reminder of how the teams ranked in the league in rushing offense last year:
  1. Oregon
  2. Arizona
  3. Arizona State
  4. UCLA
  5. California
  6. Stanford
  7. USC
  8. Washington
  9. Utah
  10. Oregon State
  11. Colorado
  12. Washington State

Here's what the teams in the Pac-12 North have coming back.

California
  • Rushing yards in 2012: 2,196
  • Rushing attempts in 2012: 451
  • Rushing touchdowns in 2012: 18
  • Rushing yards returning: 536
  • Rushing attempts returning: 54
  • Rushing touchdowns returning: 5
  • Percentage of yards returning: 24 percent
  • Percentage of attempts returning: 11 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 27 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Brendan Bigelow, 431 yards, 44 attempts, three touchdowns
  • Biggest statistical loss: C.J. Anderson, 790 yards, 126 attempts, four touchdowns
Oregon
  • Rushing yards in 2012: 4,098
  • Rushing attempts in 2012: 685
  • Rushing touchdowns in 2012: 48
  • Rushing yards returning: 2,176
  • Rushing attempts returning: 345
  • Rushing touchdowns returning: 21
  • Percentage of yards returning: 53 percent
  • Percentage of attempts returning: 50 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 43 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Marcus Mariota, 752 yards, 106 attempts, five touchdowns
  • Biggest statistical loss: Kenjon Barner, 1,767 yards, 278 attempts, 21 touchdowns
Oregon State
  • Rushing yards in 2012: 1,617
  • Rushing attempts in 2012: 442
  • Rushing touchdowns in 2012: 26
  • Rushing yards returning: 1,236
  • Rushing attempts returning: 342
  • Rushing touchdowns returning: 23
  • Percentage of yards returning: 76 percent
  • Percentage of attempts returning: 77 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 88 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Storm Woods, 940 yards, 13 touchdowns
  • Biggest statistical loss: Malcolm Agnew, 269 yards, one touchdown
Stanford
  • Rushing yards in 2012: 2440
  • Rushing attempts in 2012: 549
  • Rushing touchdowns in 2012: 23
  • Rushing yards returning: 825
  • Rushing attempts returning: 175
  • Rushing touchdowns returning: 7
  • Percentage of yards returning: 33 percent
  • Percentage of attempts returning: 31 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 30 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Kevin Hogan, 263 yards, 55 attempts, two touchdowns
  • Biggest statistical loss: Stepfan Taylor, 1,530 yards, 322 attempts, 13 touchdowns
Washington
  • Rushing yards in 2012: 1,851
  • Rushing attempts in 2012: 466
  • Rushing touchdowns in 2012: 19
  • Rushing yards returning: 1,774
  • Rushing attempts returning: 428
  • Rushing touchdowns returning: 19
  • Percentage of yards returning: 95 percent
  • Percentage of attempts returning: 91 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 100 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Bishop Sankey, 1,439 yards, 289 attempts, 16 touchdowns
  • Biggest statistical loss: Dezden Petty, 99 yards, 29 attempts, zero touchdowns
Washington State
  • Rushing yards in 2012: 349
  • Rushing attempts in 2012: 252
  • Rushing touchdowns in 2012: 6
  • Rushing yards returning: 204
  • Rushing attempts returning: 111
  • Rushing touchdowns returning: 1
  • Percentage of yards returning: 58 percent
  • Percentage of attempts returning: 44 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 16 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Teondray Caldwell, 269 yards, 56 attempts, zero touchdowns
  • Biggest statistical loss: Carl Winston, 280 yards, 85 attempts, five touchdowns

EDIT: Unfortunately, due to an out-of-date roster, the WSU numbers have changed and the statistical anomaly that was their returning rushing attack is no more. I'm just as bummed as you all are. The new numbers have been updated.

Pac-12 scouting combine notebook

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
11:00
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Some tough news coming out of the scouting combine this weekend for Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported that Lotulelei -- a projected top-five pick -- would not be allowed to work out today with the rest of the defensive lineman after an echocardiogram revealed a heart condition that requires additional testing.

From Mortensen's story:
Lotulelei was discovered to have an abnormally low Ejection Fraction, detecting that the left ventricle of his heart was pumping at only 44 percent efficiency, sources said. The normal range is between 55-70 percent efficiency.

The 6-foot-2, 311-pound Lotulelei will undergo further testing in Salt Lake City in an effort to seek more clarity with the condition, a source said. If it's a confirmed chronic condition, medical experts consider it an indication of possible heart damage.

The All-American posted 42 tackles in 2012, including 10 tackles for a loss and five sacks. He's expected to visit a specialist this week and plans to participate in Utah's Pro Day on March 20.

Scouts Inc. ranks Lotulelei as the No. 1 overall player in the draft.

Schwenke rising

Former Cal offensive lineman Brian Schwenke, longtime friend of the Pac-12 blog, had a strong combine performance. He was among the top performers in the 3-cone drill and 40-yard dash (see results below). Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com said Schwenke's stock is trending up.

Writes Jeremiah:
I really liked Schwenke on tape and he continued to impress with an excellent week at the Senior Bowl. On Saturday, his draft stock received another boost. Schwenke posted a great 40 time (4.99) and enjoyed a fine field workout. I could see his name being called in the early portion of the third round.
Zach Ertz versus Tyler Eifert

One was a unanimous All-American. The other won the Mackey Award for the nations' best tight end. The battle for the top tight end taken in the draft might be too close to call at this point.

Per ESPN's Todd McShay, Insider Ertz had a good day, but Eifert may have closed the gap.
Depending on who you ask, there are varying opinions on which of the two is the best tight end. If you took a poll, it would probably come out even at this point. So, of the two who are jockeying for position as the top TE in this class, Eifert won the day. It doesn't mean he'll be the first TE drafted, and if he is, it doesn't mean he's going to be the better NFL player. But for what it's worth, he had the better Saturday. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, he's slightly bigger and longer. He ran an unofficial 4.6 in the 40 and had an impressive 35-inch vertical leap.
Here's John Clayton's take:
Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert and Stanford's Zach Ertz were considered the top two tight ends in the draft, and it's starting to look like it will be a good battle for the top spot. Eifert may have challenged for the lead after running a 4.68 compared to Ertz's 4.76.
40 times/bench

For complete workout results, you can check out the NFL.com combine page. Here's some of the top results for the fleet-footed and pectorally gifted (per NFL.com).

Running backs
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA: 4.49/18 reps
Kenjon Barner, Oregon: 4.52/20 reps
C.J. Anderson, Cal: 4.60/17 reps
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford: 4.76/17 reps

Wide receivers
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State: 4.45/20 reps
Marquess Wilson, formerly of Washington State: 4.51/7 reps
Robert Woods, USC: 4.51/14 reps

Quarterbacks
Matt Scott, Arizona: 4.69/Did not lift

Offensive line
Kyle Long, Oregon: 4.94/Did not lift
Brian Schwenke, Cal: 4.99/31 reps
Jeff Baca, UCLA: 5.03/ Did not lift
David Bakhtiari, Coloraod: 5.09/28 reps
Khaled Holmes, USC: Did not run/13 reps

Tight end
Nick Kasa, Colorado: 4.71/22 reps
Zach Ertz, Stanford: 4.76/24 reps
Levine Toilolo, Stanford: 4.86/17 reps
We're looking at some of the top individual performances in the Pac-12 in 2012.

Up next: The Zach Attack (The player, not the band from "Saved by the Bell").

Who and against whom: In one of the few highlights of the year for Cal, quarterback Zach Maynard blew up against No. 25 UCLA -- showing accuracy and poise in leading the Bears to a 43-17 blowout/upset win.

The numbers: Maynard completed 25 of 30 throws (83 percent), he tossed four touchdowns and threw for 295 yards. He also ran for a touchdown, making it a five-score day.

A closer look: It had been a pretty crummy season so far for the Bears (and the crumminess would eventually continue after a modest two-game win streak in the middle of the season). Losers of four of its first five, Cal's only win had come against FCS Southern Utah. So with No. 25 UCLA coming to town -- the Bruins conversely had won four of their first five -- there weren't many predicting an upset ...

Except Ted Miller, who from time to time likes to remind me of this:
Ted Miller: There is every reason to believe UCLA will win this game, based on the play of both teams so far. Call this one a hunch. California 31, UCLA 28.

Golf clap, Mr. Miller.

Maynard was throwing darts, connecting twice for touchdowns with Keenan Allen and once to Brendan Bigelow and C.J. Anderson. The Bears took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter on Maynard's touchdown to Anderson and the Bears never looked back. The defense took advantage of a sloppy Bruins offense and forced four interceptions (three from Kameron Jackson, which could merit its own top performances post). Maynard's 1-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth was the icing. (Anderson's 68-yard touchdown run with 1:32 left was the cherry). While both teams ended up on different ends of the spectrum, the Bears and Maynard were able to put it all together and give soon-to-be-departed coach Jeff Tedford his final victory over a Top 25 team.

Pac-12 sees 38 invited to NFL combine

February, 8, 2013
2/08/13
10:00
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The official list of college players invited to the NFL combine is out and 38 from the Pac-12 made the cut. At least one player from every team in the conference was invited. A total of 333 players were invited and workouts begin Feb. 23. You can see the complete list here.

Pac-12 North: 2012 signature wins

December, 6, 2012
12/06/12
1:00
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Yesterday we looked at face plant games in the North and South divisions. Today, we focus on the positives and the signature wins that either propelled a team to greatness or -- at the very least -- salvaged a season. Ted showed you the South Division earlier today. Here's the North.

California: There were only two wins against FBS teams to work with, but knocking off No. 25 UCLA at home was huge. And they didn't just win, they won big, topping the eventual South Division champs 43-17. Zach Maynard was on fire, completing 25 of 30 passes with four touchdown passes. C.J. Anderson rushed for 151 yards and the defense had six turnovers. It was the a perfect example of what Cal is/was capable of when it all came together. Unfortunately for them, and their departed coach, it didn't come together all that often.

Oregon: The Ducks went 4-1 against Top 25 teams this season -- and they have a date with another one on Jan. 3. But with the country watching what was going to happen on Nov. 3, Oregon went into the Coliseum and dropped 62 points on the Trojans. It certainly wasn't a signature day for the defense -- which gave up 51 points and surrendered 615 total yards. But -- at the time -- this was a huge win for the Ducks and helped boost their national credibility.

Oregon State: The season opening win against No. 13 Wisconsin was big. As was the victory at No. 19 UCLA. But a ton of credit goes to Cody Vaz and his performance on the road against BYU. Not only was it his first road start -- it was his first career start -- and he was interception free and led the Beavers to a big win against a tough defense. Not easy to play in Provo, Utah, either. It kept Oregon State's winning streak going and really opened some eyes up nationally that the Beavers could overcome some hurdles. Of course, it helped spawn a quarterback controversy -- but that's a good thing when both QBs are talented.

Stanford: Without question, going up to Eugene and winning on the road -- with a redshirt freshmen quarterback making his first road start and second start ever -- was the signature win of the season. The Cardinal fixed their "Oregon problem" with a healthy dose of hard-nosed defense. And when the world said they couldn't do it, they thumbed their nose at the world. The victory knocked Oregon out of the national title game and propelled the Cardinal to a conference championship and a spot in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio.

Washington: Both the Stanford and Oregon State games can be counted as signature wins. Both were against Top 10 teams. But the victory over Stanford was pretty significant. Just one week earlier the Cardinal had knocked off USC. And given the assorted cans of whoop tushy the Cardinal had opened up on the Huskies in recent years, this was a pretty huge win for the Huskies. Plus, it helped them through the first half of the season at 3-3 -- which looked a lot better coming down the backstretch.

Washington State: One team's face plant is another's signature win. And while the Huskies face planted -- hard -- in the Apple Cup, Washington State bathed in the glory. It was the largest deficit overcome in the storied history of the rivalry and it came in overtime. The win gives the Cougars something positive to build on in the off season -- both on the recruiting trail and in the weight room -- and it was a shining moment in an otherwise murky season.

Huskies win an ugly one at Cal

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
12:52
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There’s ugly. And there’s whatever that was Friday night in Berkeley, Calif.

But when all the turnovers had been recovered and all the yellow laundry had been cleared from the field (on one play, there were four separate penalties), the Washington Huskies emerged with a 21-13 victory over California. It was Washington’s first road win of the season and snapped a six-game road losing streak for the Huskies. The win moves Washington (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12) one step closer to bowl eligibility.

Cal (3-7, 2-5) is officially eliminated from postseason contention for the second time in three seasons -- and questions surrounding the future of coach Jeff Tedford are sure to heat up with this latest loss.

The teams combined for eight turnovers (four apiece) and 19 penalties for a total of 168 yards (12 for 108 from Washington).

But amid the sloppiness, there were bright spots. Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins -- playing on a bum ankle -- turned in a gritty performance with eight catches for 151 yards and a score. Bishop Sankey had a season-high 189 yards on the ground for Washington to go with a pair of scores.

However, it's hard to overlook a stretch in the fourth quarter in which four consecutive drives ended in turnovers -- including four turnovers over a span of 11 snaps.

The Huskies jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when they turned an Isi Sofele fumble into an 11-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard Sankey touchdown run.

The Bears battled back to match the score in the second quarter when Chris Harper scored on a 14-yard end-around. Cal then took a six-point lead in the third following a pair of Vincenzo D’Amato field goals.

But Seferian-Jenkins -- who came out of the locker room at halftime limping badly -- made his presence known late in the third quarter. He made a leaping 43-yard reception that later helped set up his jumping 29-yard touchdown from Keith Price that gave Washington a 14-13 edge at the end of the third quarter.

Price completed 16 of 29 passes for 237 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His Cal counterpart, Zach Maynard, was 15-of-29 for 175 yards with no touchdowns and a pick. C.J. Anderson led Cal on the ground with 160 yards on 22 carries.

The loss also puts a damper on an outstanding game from Cal linebacker Nick Forbes, who tallied 10 tackles with an interception and two fumble recoveries.

It was a Maynard interception in the fourth that set up Sankey’s second touchdown run of the game and gave Washington the final margin.

Making matters worse for Cal, Maynard was sidelined near the end of the game with what appeared to be a knee injury. He was helped off the field and then carted to the locker room. Allan Bridgford relieved Maynard on Cal’s final drive but was unable to get the Bears into the end zone.

Big night for Allen as Cal tops Wazzu

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
2:30
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The California Bears have themselves a winning streak.

Behind a huge game from standout wide receiver Keenan Allen, the Bears (3-4, 2-2) won their second consecutive game -- and their eighth straight over Washington State -- by downing the Cougars 31-17 in Pullman, Wash.

Allen caught 11 balls for 166 yards -- including a 69-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 7-0 lead -- to move up to No. 2 on Cal’s all-time reception list.

Quarterback Zach Maynard, who was coming off one of the best games of his career last week against UCLA, wasn’t quite as efficient this week. He did, however, complete 14 of 23 balls for 189 yards and a score with two interceptions. He also showed off his running ability, scrambling 10 times for 78 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown that stretched Cal’s lead to 21-3 early in the third quarter.

C.J. Anderson totaled 112 yards on 15 carries with a pair of scores as part of a 318-yard rushing night for Cal.

“I thought Zach made a lot of good reads and pulled it down for some positive yards,” Cal head coach Jeff Tedford told the Pac-12 Network after the game. “And the backs always run hard.”

For the Cougars (2-5, 0-4), who have now dropped four in a row, it was another inconsistent showing. Starting quarterback Connor Halliday was replaced by Jeff Tuel for the second week in a row after Halliday completed just 4 of 10 passes for 74 yards with two interceptions.

Tuel looked sharp at times, completing 30 of 53 balls for 320 yards with two touchdowns. Brett Bartolone hauled in both of Tuel’s touchdown passes. Isiah Myers led the Cougars -- who were without Marquess Wilson for the second half after he took a hard shot in the end zone -- with eight catches for 108 yards.
The California Bears have some positive momentum to build from -- finally. No disrespect to Southern Utah, but that wasn't exactly a slap-yourself-on-the-back-win for the Bears.

But a win over a ranked UCLA team -- that could go a long way toward restoring a bit of confidence to a team that sorely needed it.

"We talked about really using adversity as an opportunity to do something," said Cal coach Jeff Tedford. "It was great to see the team play like they did and their excitement throughout the game and after the game. It's been three weeks of playing three tough, hard-fought games and not coming out on the right side of the scoreboard. It was great to have some success and see the joy and fun that goes into a win. But also understanding that it can't be a one-night stand. We're back to work and focused and attention to detail and all of the things we've been preaching and doing."

With their 43-17 win last week over the Bruins, the Bears could be on their way to salvaging their season. Quarterback Zach Maynard had one of the best games of his career, the running game came alive and the defense forced six turnovers. Now they visit Pullman, Wash., to face a 2-4 Cougars squad that has had some troubles of its own. A victory would bring the Bears to 3-4, setting up a crucial matchup with rival Stanford that could very well determine Cal's postseason fate.

[+] EnlargeRichard Rodgers
Jason O. Watson/Getty ImagesRichard Rodgers' breakout game hinted at the potential Cal's offense has when hitting on all cylinders.
There are still some issues, as you'd expect from a 2-4 team. The Bears are still allowing too many third-down conversions on defense and one good offensive performance doesn't mean they'll continue to be this efficient. But it's a much-needed step in the right direction. Part of the success can be attributed to a healthy Richard Rodgers. The tight end had a monster game against the Bruins, catching seven balls for 129 yards. You combine his underneath play with the stretch-the-field ability of Keenan Allen (eight catches, 79 yards, two touchdowns) and you have more dimensions to an offense that is at its most efficient when the entire field is in play.

Rodgers' play opened up the running game for C.J. Anderson (21 carries, 151 yards, one touchdown) and the defense was able to snag six turnovers to get the ball back. It was a complete team effort -- something the Bears had been missing.

"It's a team game and everybody has to do their job," Tedford said. "[Maynard] had a great game against Ohio State and he played real well against UCLA, but it's about catching the ball. It's about pass protection. It's all of it. Not getting penalties and [ending up] in long situations. He was very consistent and made good decisions. He didn't force the football. That's what we're looking for out of him. But he has to have some help to enable him to play consistently -- an effective run game, pass protection, catching footballs, the whole bit.

"... [Rodgers] is still not 100 percent. To have him back in the game and be able to contribute, it definitely gives you another phase of your offense. It was nice to see him do some of the things we thought he has the potential to do."

Up in Pullman, the Cougars have dropped two straight and head coach Mike Leach is making news after his now infamous "empty corpses" remark.

For the second time this season, Washington State failed to score a touchdown. Quarterback Connor Halliday was intercepted three times and Jeff Tuel was picked off once in a 19-6 loss to Oregon State.

The transition to the Air Raid hasn't happened as quickly as Leach would have hoped. The Cougars lead the conference in interceptions thrown and though they average 312 yards in the air per game (third behind Arizona and Oregon State), they are eighth in passing efficiency.

"You always want as much as possible as early as possible," Leach said. "I knew we were going to have to play a lot of young guys. I knew there were going to be a lot of new faces that hadn't played ... I knew it was going to be a work in progress. We just have to continue to work to get better."

Maynard shines, Bears stump Bruins

October, 7, 2012
10/07/12
1:29
AM ET


UCLA went to Memorial Stadium looking for its first win in Berkeley since 1998. All the No. 25 Bruins found was a fierce Cal pass rush and an inspired Bears offense that quarterback Zach Maynard ran with relative efficiency to a 43-17 victory over the Bruins.

Maynard accounted for five Cal touchdowns -- four in the air and one on the ground -- and the much-maligned Bears defense kept the Bruins to 378 total yards, sacked quarterback Brett Hundley four times and forced six UCLA turnovers.

For as well as Cal played, UCLA also didn't help their cause with miscommunications and penalties. For example, a mix-up between Hundley and Shaquelle Evans led to an interception at the end of the first half that could have been a huge momentum swing.

And the Bears capitalized on the Bruins' mistakes, turning those five turnovers into 20 points.

UCLA jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Hundley connected with defensive lineman-turned-eligible-receiver Cassius Marsh on a 4-yard score.

But the Bears then scored 23 straight on three Maynard touchdowns -- a 5-yarder to C.J. Anderson, an 8-yarder to Keenan Allen and a 32-yarder to Brendan Bigelow. He was a very crisp 25 of 30 for 295 yards.

"[Maynard] played within himself and we did a nice job as a team," Cal head coach Jeff Tedford told the Pac-12 Network after the game. "It was a total team effort. It was solid. All three phases played well. Now we regroup and get ready for another game next week. This is just one game."

Hundley, who finished 31-of-47 for 253 yards, connected with Joseph Fauria for a 3-yard strike to cut the score to 23-14 early in the third quarter. But Maynard answered by finding Allen again -- this time for 34 yards -- to put Cal ahead 29-14 after the blocked PAT.

Things got ugly in the fourth when Cal fumbled in the UCLA red zone, then Hundley was intercepted for the second time, and then Cal fumbled again on the very next offensive play. And then Hundley was picked again on the next UCLA drive by Michael Lowe. The teams combined for 22 penalties for 199 yards.

Maynard put the game out of reach midway through the fourth when, following the Lowe interception, he marched the Bears to the UCLA 1-yard line and put his head down for the score.

Anderson iced it in the final minutes with a 68-yard touchdown with 1:32 left in the game.

Cal, Colorado stumble in openers

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
8:00
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Rough Saturday so far for the Pac-12.

NEVADA 31, CAL 24: Cody Fajardo, Stefphon Jefferson and the Nevada Wolf Pack spoiled the grand re-opening of Memorial Stadium.

Fajardo, Nevada's quarterback, rushed for 97 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown and also completed 25 of 32 balls for 230 yards. Jefferson carried the ball 34 times for 145 yards and three scores.

The Bears fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter after Jefferson capped a 16-play drive for the Wolf Pack and then Fajardo scored on a 49-yard run. The Bears were kept off the scoreboard until 4:38 in the second quarter and struggled to keep drives going, converting just 3 of 14 third-down attempts.

Cal quarterback Zach Maynard, who didn't start the game because he missed a tutoring session during the summer, came in late in the first quarter and finished the game 17-of-30 for 247 yards and two touchdown passes; one to Bryce Treggs and another to Chris Harper. Keenan Allen (five catches, 69 yards) scored on a 39-yard reverse.

C.J. Anderson took the bulk of the carries for Cal, carrying 14 times for 66 yards. Isi Sofele, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, carried five times for 21 yards.

With the score tied at 24-24, Cal took over at their own 2 with 5:44 remaining and a chance to drive for the lead. But the Bears couldn't get past their own 12. Nevada took the punt and marched 61 yards for the winning score, a 2-yard run by Jefferson.

Cal's defense -- which has been tops in the conference the last two seasons -- gave up 450 yards, including 220 on the ground from Nevada's pistol offense.

COLORADO STATE 22, COLORADO 17: Speaking of spoilers, the Colorado State Rams muscled their way to victory over Colorado in Denver, wrecking the debut of Kansas transfer Jordan Webb, who won Colorado's starting quarterback job after just a month on campus.

Webb ran hot-and-cold most of the night, missing his first four passes as the Buffaloes fell behind 3-0 on a Jared Roberts 47-yard field goal.

Then Webb put it together in the second quarter, coordinating a nine-play, 81 yard drive that ended with a 15-yard dart to Nelson Spruce and a 7-3 Colorado lead. Later in the quarter, Tyler McCulloch scooped up a one-handed grab on a 9-yard throw to give Colorado a 14-3 advantage.

But Colorado State's pursuit of Webb was relentless, sacking him five times and putting him on the ground several more. He finished 22-of-41 with 187 yards. Tony Jones did the bulk of the work on the ground for Colorado, carrying the ball 16 times, but managed just 43 yards. As a team, Colorado mustered just 58 rushing yards and was out-gained by the Rams 298-245.

Colorado re-took the lead in the fourth quarter when Will Oliver's 30-yard field goal gave the Buffs a 17-16 advantage. But Roberts converted back-to-back field goals to give CSU the lead and extend the score to 22-17.

Colorado had a chance to drive for the win in the closing minute, but failed to convert on a fourth-and-2 at the Colorado State 39.
Cal's Brian Schwenke has played in 26 of a possible 38 games for the Bears. He's started 24 games in his career -- all at offensive guard. He was one of the top guards in the country coming out of Oceanside High, where he helped his team to county titles and a state championship.

Not once during the hundreds of snaps and dozens of pancake blocks had he ever remotely entertained the idea of playing center.

[+] EnlargeBrian Schwenke
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireCalifornia senior Brian Schwenke is making the switch from guard to center this season.
"Until this past spring, I hadn't even really picked up a football," jokes the 6-4, 300-pound senior. "Initially, it was pretty tough. Just learning to snap and calling out the defense and having that guy closer to you than when you play guard. It's a pretty big change, but I played center all through spring ball and now I'm completely comfortable. It's like I've been playing center for three years. There is a learning curve, but once I got a grasp on it, it was pretty easy to get better after you get over that first little hump."

The switch to center should be helpful to a Bears' offensive line that recently lost a lot of experience. Schwenke, tackle Matt Summers-Gavin and Dominic Galas were supposed to make up an impenetrable right side. But Galas will miss up to three months after tearing a pectoral muscle in offseason training -- meaning Schwenke and Summers-Gavin are the veterans of the group.

"It sucks losing Dom," Schwenke said. "He's a really good player. On the other hand the younger guys have to step up and I'm not worried. We had a good spring. Everyone is ready to play. Multiple guys could step in and do well. It would be great to have Dom, but it sucks and we're bummed. We'll get through it."

Geoffrey Gibson is slated to replace Galas at right guard.

"He played there all spring," Cal head coach Jeff Tedford said of Gibson. "He's done OK. I thought he started off in spring really well. I wasn't pleased with how he ended spring. There's a big goal for him to pick up in the fall. But he has a lot of experience since he played there all spring."

Offensive linemen measure their success -- aside from wins -- by how many sacks they allow and how their running backs do. The latter was solid last season as they helped Isi Sofele to 1,322 yards and 10 touchdowns. The sacks allowed, however, was not so solid, as the Bears linemen yielded 28 sacks.

"A lot of it is most of the sacks were communication errors," Schwenke said. "Often times we were doing different things. Our protections were pretty complex. We've gone through it and simplified a lot of our offense. I don't think it's ever been an issue of talent on the offensive line. What we've done is simplify the protections and we're going to do a lot better job since we'll be all be on the same page the whole time."

And now it's Schwenke's job as center to make sure everyone is on the same page. He'll be making the protection calls -- which involves a lot more knowledge of the playbook.

"When I first started out, I really only knew what I was doing," he admitted. "I was really young and it was a lot of offense to pick up. But over the years I've learned the entire offense. I know everything I need to know to play center. Now it's up to me to communicate that to everyone."

As quarterback Zach Maynard becomes more comfortable in the offense and with the Bears switching to a two-back set with Sofele and C.J. Anderson, Tedford said finding the right combination on the offensive line will be paramount.

"It's going to be key that we find the eight or nine guys that can move to different positions and interchange," Tedford said. "And with Dom being out now, some of the other guys are going to have to step up. The offensive line will definitely been a focal point in fall camp."
The Pac-12 features another strong crop of running backs -- seven return after compiling more than 900 yards rushing in 2011 -- but there are also a few teams facing uncertainty at the position.

Evaluations aren't easy here. A number of teams have an A-list leading rusher back but uncertain depth. Others have plenty of experience returning but no proven A-lister. So stars and depth matter here.

A general impression: Running back is strong position in the conference. No team has a sense of desperation here.

So how does it stack up?

Great shape

Stanford: Stepfan Taylor was second-team All-Pac-12 last year after rushing for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns. But the Cardinal also welcomes back its second- and third-leading rushers, Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson, as well as Ricky Seale, who was impressive this spring. And, of course, there's a guy called BARRY SANDERS arriving in the fall.

[+] EnlargeJohn White
Chris Morrison/US PresswireJohn White is the Pac-12's leading returning rusher -- and could get help in the Utah backfield.
Utah: John White, also second-team All-Pac-12 in 2011, is the conference's leading returning rusher with 1,519 yards last year. He was mostly a one-man show -- he led the conference in carries -- but that won't be the case this fall. Harvey Langi and Kelvin York, both over 220 pounds, showed they are ready to contribute quality reps this spring.

California: Isi Sofele ranked fifth in the conference with 1,322 yards rushing in 2011, but he'll have to old off a challenge from C.J. Anderson -- 345 yards and eight TDs in 2011 -- to retain his starting job this fall. The depth is strong with Brendan Bigelow, Daniel Lasco and Darren Ervin.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils have both a star in Cameron Marshall and good depth. Marshall rushed for 1,050 and 18 touchdowns last season. Depth? Kyle Middlebrooks, James Morrison, Deantre Lewis, Marion Grice and incoming freshman D.J. Foster will be battling for touches.

Oregon: The Ducks are difficult to rate. If everything falls into place -- and it's reasonable to believe they will -- Kenjon Barner, LaMichael James' longtime backup, will become a star, spectacular hybrid RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas will make a bunch of big plays in a change-of-pace role and touted incoming freshman Byron Marshall will become the third option. Nonetheless, one injury here would be a major blow.

USC: The Trojans are just like the Ducks: Top-heavy with questionable depth. The underrated Curtis McNeal -- the 1,000-yard rusher averaged 6.9 yards per carry in 2011 -- is back, and so is D.J. Morgan, who rushed for 163 yards last year. If redshirt freshman Javorious "Buck" Allen and incoming freshman Nelson Agholor step up, things should be fine. But depth here is one of the Trojans' few question marks.

Good shape

UCLA: Johnathan Franklin is back, and he's been highly productive -- if fumble-prone -- for a while. Malcolm Jones, who rushed for 103 yards in 2011, is back, and Steven Manfro was a spring standout. While the position isn't spectacular for the Bruins, it's certainly not a chief worry heading into the season.

Arizona: Is promising sophomore Ka'Deem Carey ready to become a star? He rushed for 425 yards last year and looked good this spring. There's also good depth behind him: Daniel Jenkins, Taimi Tutogi, Kylan Butler, Greg Nwoko and Jared Baker.

Washington State: The two leading rushers from 2011, Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston, are back, and they combined for more than 1,000 yards. But sophomore Marcus Mason was with the No. 1 offense during the spring game, and Leon Brooks also is in the mix. Catching the ball well will be almost as important as taking a handoff under new coach Mike Leach.

Washington: Workhorse Chris Polk is gone, but Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey both saw plenty of action in 2011. Might Deontae Cooper get healthy -- finally -- and work his way into the picture? Like a lot of teams, the Huskies have the potential to be fine here. But it's reasonable to expect the running game to take a step back this fall, particularly with issues on the O-line.

We'll see

Oregon State: Everybody is back, but no Beaver rushed for more than 423 yards last year. And, of course, Oregon State was one of the nation's worst rushing teams. The pecking order also didn't seem to completely work itself out, though redshirt freshman Storm Woods had a strong spring.

Colorado: The good news is Tony Jones had a good spring and looks capable of replacing the departed Rodney Stewart. Still, he averaged 3.8 yards per rush in 2011. Josh Ford rushed for 128 yards last season. Depth is a bit uncertain also, with D.D. Goodson and Malcolm Creer, who is coming back from a knee injury.

Strongest position group: California

June, 15, 2012
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Every team has a strength -- that one position group that can make a play on offense or make a big stop on defense when needed.

Based on what happened this spring, we're going to look at the strongest position group for each school. It could be on either side of the ball -- and it could be subject to change after fall camp goes into full swing.

We're going in reverse alphabetical order.

California

Strongest position group: Running back

Headliner: Isi Sofele (1,322 yards rushing, 5.2 ypc, 10 TDs)

Supporting cast: C.J. Anderson (345 yards, 4.8 ypc, 8 TDs; Brendan Bigelow (25 yards, 4.2 yards per carry)

The skinny: This might feel like a bit of an upset, and an argument can be made for either the Bears defensive line or their secondary. Still, the D-line is talented but ultimately unproven, and the secondary is promising but as of yet undistinguished. If you are looking for certainty, the Bears have it at tailback, where a 1,300-yard rusher from 2011 in Sofele will have to fight this preseason to hold onto his starting job over the physical Anderson. Bigelow is a speed guy who started to find his rhythm this spring. He figures to get plenty of touches. And redshirt freshman Daniel Lasco, the fourth guy, is no slouch -- he'd get playing time if he were suiting up for Oregon or USC. Last year, running back was a question mark for the Bears. Not so this year. That should make life a lot easier for QB Zach Maynard. If the offensive line holds up its end of the bargain, the Bears should be one of the top rushing teams in the Pac-12.

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