It was Chris Harper, not the more highly-regarded Bryce Treggs, that led California in receptions and receiving yards Saturday, finishing with seven catches for 94 yards. That total should have been bigger, but a 44-yard catch-and-run touchdown was negated by a penalty.
"He just showed he can make plays with the ball in his hands," junior Keenan Allen said. "We try to get the ball in his hands a lot with bubble (screens), reverse, whatever."
Harper arrived on campus as one of five freshmen competing for playing time opposite the All-America candidate. While others came in with higher ranking and more stars – Harper was a three-star prospect rated 81st nationally by Scout.com – the Encino (Calif.) Crespi standout chose to focus on showcasing his work ethic instead.
"I definitely didn't expect anything, but I worked hard in practice and earned a spot," Harper said. "My plan was to contribute and give everything I can to the team, do whatever I can whether it is blocking every play or catching every ball."
But it was Allen and Treggs doing the blocking for him, as Harper has become the featured piece in Cal's quick passing game. Through two games, he now has 12 receptions for 151 yards, both team-highs.
"He is doing really well," head coach Jeff Tedford said. "He made one play I was really impressed with, very physical. Not a big guy, he put his shoulder down and bounced off somebody, then spun down the sideline."
Outside linebacker Chris McCain hurt his shoulder late in the second quarter and will undergo an MRI, Tedford said.
Tight end Richard Rodgers left the game with a foot injury. X-rays were taken in the locker room, but the sophomore did not return, finishing with one reception for 14 yards. But that play was critical, breaking through a would-be tackler to convert a third down and extending a drive that ended with a 19-yard Allen touchdown reception on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Redshirt senior Matt Summers-Gavin did not dress or play because of a left knee injury he suffered last week against Nevada. Redshirt junior Bill Tyndall started in place of Summers-Gavin at right tackle.
Firsts and firsts
Redshirt freshman running back Daniel Lasco scored his first career touchdown, exploding for a 77-yard run in the fourth quarter.
"The speed once he hit it, you could see the burst there," Tedford said. "He played very well on special teams too (Lasco wears No. 42 on coverage teams). Him and Michael Lowe are doing a great job of going down and making plays."
Offensive tackle Freddie Tagaloa played late in the fourth quarter, meaning the true freshman from Richmond (Calif.) Salesian will not redshirt this season.
On the same day he recorded his first career tackle, redshirt freshman linebacker Jalen Jefferson finished with nine tackles, tied for the team lead.
Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and covers the Pac-12 for Fox Sports/Scout.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.