Friday, October 24, 2003
Bears hoping to avoid another Arizona shocker
BERKELEY, Calif. -- The last time Arizona visited
California, John Mackovic had promised to be more receptive to his
Though the coach started listening, he didn't start winning.
Last year, the Wildcats got a shocking 52-41 victory at Memorial
Stadium just days after Mackovic narrowly kept his job after a
near-mutiny by his players.
The respite didn't even last until Arizona's next trip to Cal on
Saturday. Mackovic was fired last month and replaced by defensive
coordinator Mike Hankwitz, who still hasn't picked up his first win
at Arizona (1-6, 0-3 Pac-10).
Meanwhile, Cal (3-5, 1-2) is running out of chances to secure
its second straight winning season under coach Jeff Tedford. After
consecutive losses to Oregon State and UCLA, the Golden Bears must
win four of their last five games to become bowl-eligible.
A win over the Wildcats would be a great help, but Tedford's
players learned last season to be wary of Arizona under any
circumstances. Team morale seems to be improved under Hankwitz's
direction, even if the record isn't.
"I don't see too much turmoil now with the Wildcats," Tedford
said. "When they came to Berkeley last year, there was a lot of
hype and media attention surrounding them, but now it seems like
they have a new life. It seems as if they are out there having
The Wildcats were off last week, and they used their bye to heal
and to reaffirm their new commitment to the running game. Hankwitz
and his offensive coaches claim to be committed to establishing the
run with tailback Clarence Farmer -- though Hankwitz also is mindful
of Arizona's incredible 492 yards passing against Cal last season.
"We got a lot accomplished," Hankwitz said of the bye. "We
also gave the players an extended break at the end of the week to
give them a chance to get healed up. We have had numerous guys
playing each week with nagging things, (but) the injury report
looks good right now. It was a good break, both mentally and
Both teams enter the game fresh off losses to UCLA. Arizona fell
to the Bruins two weeks ago, while the Golden Bears returned from
their bye with a 23-20 overtime loss in Pasadena.
Farmer and Mike Bell both were effective rushers against UCLA,
and Hankwitz wants to see more of the same. With both teams
fielding shaky defenses, Arizona's coaches figure they could be in
another shootout in Berkeley.
"I was pleased with the way our offensive line blocked in the
last game, and our backs did a better job of running downhill,"
Hankwitz said. "I told the players that consistency is a true
measure of greatness. You can play one good game, but good players
have more than one game in a row."
Hankwitz added, "We have to show that we can run the ball more
than in one game. We need to continue to be able to run it and keep
the balance, and that will help make our passing game more
The Bears have shown solid balance on offense, with Adimchinobe
Echemandu's rushing and a solid passing game led by quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers and Reggie Robertson. In a familiar season-long
theme, Cal dominated the Bruins statistically but couldn't execute
in many crucial short-yardage and late-game situations.
"We are a good football team, and we've competed in every game
we've played," Tedford said. "Five of our last six games have
been decided in the last two minutes of the contest. We just need
to start out faster."
Tedford has a point: The Bears have outscored their opponents in
every quarter except the first this season. In their big victory
over then-No. 3 USC, Cal took an early lead and never fell behind
despite several comebacks by the Trojans.