Berkeley, Calif. • Memorial Stadium
Saturday, October 25th, • 12.30 p.m. (MST/PDT)
Radio: KNST (Brian Jefferies, Les Josephson)
Oscar Ramirez, Associate Broker for Prudential Aegis Realty, sponsors the Scouting Report. If you are considering buying or selling a home, a winter residence or simply looking for a place to spend leisure time when visiting Tucson, give Oscar a call. He has 35 years real estate & 1031 exchange experience. He's an avid golfer and a member at one of Tucson's finest private clubs. For more information, give Oscar a call at 520-360-7600 or click on the banner below.
CAL AT A GLANCE
Coach: Jeff Tedford (10-10, 1 year)
Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-3 2002 Record:7-5, Pac-10: 4-4/T4th
Site: Berkeley, Calif.
Series Record: Arizona leads, 11-9-2, and has won the last four meetings.
Last meeting: Arizona set aside the turmoil of the revolt and upset Cal 52-41.
LAST TIME OUT
Both teams are coming off close losses to UCLA. The Bears fell 23-20 in overtime last weekend, while Arizona lost 24-21 the week before. The Cats had a bye last weekend.
WHEN CAL HAS THE BALL
Jeff Tedford has the reputation as a quarterback guru and he has two pretty good ones to choose from. Aaron Rodger's has the job right now, despite the fact that back up Reggie Robertson would be the second highest rated passer in the Conference with enough attempts. Robertson started the season as the starter but soon gave way to the junior college transfer.
Rodgers has been solid for the Bears. He isn't putting up the numbers that Kyle Boller did a year ago, but he keeps the offense moving and has a nice strong arm.
"Their quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) has continued to improve," said Wildcat coach Mike Hankwitz. "If you look at his statistics, he is hitting 56 percent of his passes and has thrown seven touchdowns, but he has only thrown three interceptions, which is the key."
The big key to the offense is the running of Adimchinobe Echemandu. Echemandu is one of the better runners in the Pac-10 and has a nice combination of strength and quickness. Averaging over five yards a carry keeps the offense moving.
"Echemandu has the speed to really make things happen in their running game," noted Hankwitz.
Cal has a number of talented wide receivers, six of whom have double figure catches. The team completes a high percentage of passes but that does not mean they only throw short. There receivers all average over 12 yards a catch and the big play is a key component of their offense.
"Obviously, (Geoff) McArthur, who is third in the country in receiving yards, is a dangerous threat," said Hankwitz. "If you look at his last four games, he has probably had over eight or nine receptions per game. (Burl) Toler is an excellent receiver on the other side. (Vincent) Strang, their punt returner, has stepped in, and he is a quick guy."
Stopping the big play is critical for the Cats. Long plays were key in their losses to TCU and Washington State, but Arizona kept UCLA from the big strike and should have beaten the Bruins. The Arizona defense has made huge strides the past few weeks after getting hammered early in the season. The defensive line still lacks depth, but the Cats have been able to hide the difficiency by mixing up the schemes.
Arizona employs a version of the 4-3 where they have moved their outside linebackers to defensive end and have a safety playing a rover linebacker spot.
WHEN ARIZONA HAS THE BALL
The Arizona offense is finally starting to click. After several weeks of looking terrible, the offense came alive against a good UCLA defense. The biggest key is the return of Clarence Farmer. Farmer saw limited action under Mackovic, but has been a focal point of the offense since Hankwitz took over.
The Cats have shifted the emphasis of the offense to better suit the personnel. The offensive line has taken hit after hit, so the team is using a more spread out attack that relies on quick passes and misdirection in the running game. The Wildcats will also use the shotgun quite a bit, mainly in an effort to protect the quarterbacks and get the ball out of their hands quicker.
Arizona will use two quarterbacks, but true freshman Kris Heavner will get the bulk of the snaps. Heavner has amazing pocket presence for a young player and has all the tools to be a very good passer. He has a cannon arm and is quite mobile. He does have a tendency to try to force things and he's thrown a number of costly interceptions, including one that was run back for the winning score by UCLA.
Spelling Heavner will be the speedy Nic Costa. The sophomore is one of the fastest players in the Pac-10 and adds a whole new dimension. Costa is a good passer, but is deadly with his legs and is a threat to break a long one any time he takes off running.
The receiving corps is solid. Biren Ealy has the makings of a star, while the tight ends have slowly become more and more important to the passing game.
The Cal defense is a decent unit, but does give up points. Four times they have surrendered 30 points or more, including three of the five losses. They are very aggressive and have a number of solid players, despite losing 10 starters from last year's team.
"Defensively, they are starting to play better," Hankwitz said. "They had seven sacks against UCLA, so it will be a tremendous challenge going up there."
OUTLOOK: This is a key game for both clubs. The Bears are trying to stay in the bowl hunt, while Arizona wants their moral victories to become an actual victory. The last few games have been shutouts and the Cats need their offense to show up. If they can put points on the board they have a good shot at a win. If the offense fails to move the ball, then it could be a long day for the visitors from Tucson.
With no television, join Cat Tracks in out Chat Room for updates and discussion of the game and team. Discuss this story on the FOOTBALL MESSAGE BOARD