CAL Preview

At 3-0, the Sun Devils wrap up an early season road swing in Strawberry Canyon, taking on a talented California Bear squad. Both teams are looking to make a September statement to the rest of the conference.

For Arizona State, that comes in the form of notching head coach Dirk Koetter's first conference win in the state of California and over Bears skipper Jeff Tedford. Cal is ready to show the early season rust is gone after an embarrassing first week loss at Tennessee.

2006 Record: 2-1, 0-0 Pac-10
Head Coach: Jeff Tedford

Last Week: The Golden Bears are riding a two game win streak after routing Portland State at home, 42-16 .

*Projected Starters

WR DeSean Jackson, So.
LT Mike Tepper, So.
LG Erik Robertson, Sr.
C Alex Mack, So.
RG Noris Malele, So.
RT Mike Gibson, Jr.
TE Craig Stevens, Jr.
WR Robert Jordan, Jr.
QB Nate Longshore, So.
FB Byron Storer, Sr.
TB Marshawn Lynch, Jr.

Head coach Jeff Tedford didn't announce his starting quarterback until late August but appears to have made the best choice in selecting sophomore Nate Longshore. The young signal caller appears to have found a rhythm following a rocky season debut in Knoxville a few weeks ago. The sophomore is averaging 203 yards through the air, passing for 6 scores and two interceptions. Longshore is completing 65% of his passes while senior backup Joe Ayoob has not been as efficient in relief time with a 42% completion percentage and one interception.

Longshore has a very talented supporting cast at the skill positions. DeSean Jackson is an emerging star at receiver with excellent speed and big play capabilities. The true sophomore has collected 5 touchdowns in three games this season and is averaging just over 100 receiving yards per game. Joining Hawkins are a pair of juniors, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan. The two are consistent targets and have a combined 23 catches and 311 receiving yards between them.

Keeping defenses honest in the backfield is Heisman candidate Marshawn Lynch. The junior running back is forging his way to another 1,000+ yard season with 325 yards and three scores already. The Cal ground game, averaging 162.7 yards per game, doesn't end with Lynch, however. Junior Justin Forsett, a back up that could start for many schools, has 89 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries. Marcus O'Keith is also averaging 8.1 yards per carry as a senior.

*Projected Starters

DE Abu Ma'afala, Sr.
DT Matt Malele, Jr.
DT Brandon Mebane, Sr.
DE Nu'u Tafisi, Sr.
SAM Justin Moye, Jr.
MIKE Desmond Bishop, Sr.
WILL Worrell Williams, So.
FS Thomas DeCoud, Jr.
ROV Brandon Hampton, Jr.
CB Daymeion Hughes, Sr.
CB Syd'Quan Thompson, Fr.

Brandon Mebane, a senior, anchors a defensive line that hasn't yet caught up with pre-season expectations but has remained a very formidable front for the Bears. Mebane has collected two sacks and is trying to jumpstart a sluggish pass rush from the front four early this season. Senior defensive end Nu'u Tafisi is the line's next leading tackler behind Mebane with 6 tackles and 2 quarterback hurries.

Cal's linebacking corps is among the more talented and deeper units in the West. Senior linebacker Desmond Bishop is a load in the middle and is a big reason why the Bear defense has allowed only two rushing touchdowns this season. Bishop is second on the team in tackles with 20. Senior Mickey Pimentel and junior Justin Moye join on the strong side to give Cal a great 1-2 punch. The two have a combined 19 stops and 1.5 sacks. A trio of sophomores in Worrell Williams, Anthony Felder, and Zack Follett will play along the weak side.

Pre-season All-American candidate Daymeion Hughes is capable of blanketing opposing receivers. The senior cornerback has notched 11 stops and intercepted 3 passes already. Starting at the opposite corner spot is Syd'Quan Thompson, a freshman that was picked on in the season opener at Tennessee. With the loss of Tim Mixon, the Bears pass defense has suffered some, giving up an average of just under 240 yards per game. Junior safety Thomas DeCoud leads the team in tackles with 23.


P Andrew Larson, Jr.
PK Tom Schneider, Jr.
PR DeSean Jackson, So.
KR Marshawn Lynch, Jr.

Junior punter Andrew Larson is in his first season at Cal, coming over from junior college. 4 of Larson's 12 punts have been downed inside the 20 yard line while averaging 41.8 yards per punt. Surprisingly, kicker Tom Schneider has only attempted one field in the Bears first three games this season, connecting on a 32 yarder at Tennessee.

Wideout DeSean Jackson is a dangerous returner but his longest of this young season went for 15 yards. Running backs Marshawn Lynch and Marcus O'Keith have fared a bit better returning kicks. O'Keith is averaging 27.7 yards per return while Lynch averages just over 20 yards.

On a related note, the Bears kickoff coverage has had some holes, allowing over 28 yards per kick return and a 99 yard return for a touchdown already. ________________________________________________________________________

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