Khalfani Muhammad is just one of three California running backs on preseason watch lists, but over the first quarter of the Bears' 51-31 win over Hawaii in Sydney, Aus. on Friday night (Saturday afternoon, local time) in the Sydney College Cup, you'd be forgiven if you thought he was the entirety of the Cal offense, and in fact.
Over the first 15 minutes of play, Muhammad had 124 yards of total offense, including a 34-yard touchdown scamper on a second-and-10 draw play just 1:04 into the first game of the 2016 college football season.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1700008-fifth-quarter-cal-..."It was phenomenal, it was exciting and I was energetic about it," Muhammad said. "Our team came out and we executed our game plan and it got me to the end zone. So thanks to the whole line, our blocker scheme was perfect, and first touch down in college."
Muhammad's 45-yard kickoff return and 40-yard run over left guard on Cal's last drive of the first quarter set the stage for Matt Anderson's 11th straight field goal, and his 16th make in his last 17 tries, dating back to last season.
"We emphasized a lot on special teams, special teams could be a game changer," Muhammad said. "So we've been in practice and working on it and we came out here and executed today. So I'm really proud of the guys blocking out front, opening gaps and giving me seams and I just took advantage of it."
That field goal was one of two in the first half for Anderson, and one of four in the first half against 21-point underdog Hawaii that didn't result in a touchdown for the re-tooled Bear Raid.
While Muhammad finished with 212 all-purpose yards, the real star, was junior wide receiver Chad Hansen. The Idaho State transfer, who was awarded a scholarship this summer, had the best game of his career by halftime, hauling in 11 passes on 12 targets for 115 yards, twice for touchdowns, including a 17-yard leaping fade to put Cal up, 14-7, and then a 34-yard screen pass to the short side of the field out of an empty set, giving the Bears a 27-14 advantage with 3:43 left in the half. Hansen finished with 14 catches on 16 targets by quarterback Davis Webb for 160 yards. His previous career high for catches was five.
"Even after the game, I had no idea how many catches I had," Hansen said. "As soon as Davis got here in May, we've just had a connection. I think it's sort of blossomed over fall camp, us being together day in day out from 7 am to 9 pm, it really helps a quarterback and wide-receiver connection, so that sort of helped us."
Also having a big game was walk-on Bug Rivera, who caught a career-high five balls for 54 yards.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1683878-countdown-to-kicko...The shiniest new offensive weapon for the Bears -- Texas Tech graduate transfer quarterback Webb, who threw for 5,557 yards in three years in Lubbock -- overthrew receivers four times in his first three drives, with two of those coming to freshmen, and overall seemed out-of-sync, early, but finished 38-of-54 for 441 yards and four touchdowns in his Cal debut.
"It was okay - I'm glad we got the victory obviously, I'm proud of how they executed the game plan, [but] as coach Dykes said there's a lot of things we need to improve on," said Webb. "All credit goes to Hawaii, they played really hard tonight. We didn't know what they were going to do defensively and they did a good job throwing us off our grove in the first and second quarter, and that's a credit to their coaching staff. I'm just really proud of guys like Chad and Khalfani and guys like that who played their butts off tonight and I'm just excited to be here, it was a good victory tonight."
A high throw from Webb to freshman wide out Demetris Robertson on the first play from scrimmage pulled him high into the air, and while he reeled the ball in, he came down hard out of bounds for an incompletion. The five-star prospect from Savannah, Ga., didn't see any more action until 23 seconds left in the third quarter, when he caught an eight-yard pass from Webb, for his first career catch. Robertson finished with two catches for 12 yards.
Webb's delivery, while it is stronger than predecessor Jared Goff's, did take a bit longer to get through, which meant he didn't show as quick a trigger on timing plays, at least early in the game. During his second drive, the inability to get the ball out quickly allowed Webb to be wrapped up by Hayward, Calif., native David Manoa, forcing him to flip the ball out of his hand, and off the helmet of one of his offensive linemen.
"Hawaii threw some blitz at us and I think our line did a good job sorting it out, and protecting the best they could and only gave up two sacks today out of a lot and that's a credit to coach [Brandon] Jones and the line coaches, he had his players ready to go and I'm really happy with our centers, and guards and the whole line played well. There's stuff we can improve on but I'm looking forward to getting out to practice and working on it."
Webb's first touchdown pass as a Bear, though, came on a quick-release fade to Hansen, 17 yards down field for the Bears' second touchdown of the day, giving them a 14-7 margin with 5:13 left in the first.
"He's my roommate on the road, and last night I told him he had three touchdowns today so he fell one short - but watching film I really felt Chad had the chance to have a big day, and he was the one who stepped up," Webb said. "The other guys had a few chances, but that's just how it went today and I'm looking forward to whoever steps up next week."
As Webb got more comfortable -- in part, thanks to his security blanket Hansen -- the offense clicked more consistently. With 1:42 left in the first half, following a defensive stop, keyed by a QB hurry from James Looney and Tony Mekari, Webb led Cal on a nine-play scoring drive, hitting Hansen twice before finding Vic Wharton up the far sideline for a tip-toeing 28-yard gain. An 18-yard curl to Kanawai Noa and an offsides penalty on the Warriors put the Bears at the three-yard line, where new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital called for the speed option against the outside pressure from Hawaii, and Webb powered through both defensive end Tevarua Eldridge and safety Damien Packer on the right edge for a touchdown just before the half.
The Cal defense, in the first half, failed to provide much of a pass rush, with only two quarterback pressures and just one tackle for loss before the break. Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey -- who had 22 interceptions to 18 touchdown passes in his career -- effectively hit short timing routes while running back Diocemy Saint Juste piled up 98 yards on 11 carries.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1689352-countdown-to-kicko... The Bears allowed 482 total yards of offense to the Warriors, including 248 yards on the ground on 38 attempts, as Hawaii went 8-of-14 on third-down conversions. Last season, Hawaii averaged 123.9 rushing yards per game, and 192.4 passing yards. Woolsey finished 17-of-34 for 234 yards on the day.
"We're not satisfied with the way we ran the ball offensively -- we were spotty at times, we had some big plays but didn't consistently run it the way we want to run it -- and then obviously defensively weren't as good against the run as we need to be," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "So I told the guys afterwards that's what we want to improve on. I thought on the back end, I thought our safeties did a good job and so it was good to see those guys compete the way we did. We've got to sure up the run game a little bit, and you've got to give credit to Hawaii, they caught us in a couple of stunts, the first two drives we got out of a gap and they creased us, and we missed a couple of tackles - we've got to tackle better. Clearly we have to improve, if we don't, we'll have a hard time coming up against a very good San Diego State team, so they're we've got to run the ball a little better."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1626552-chad-hansen-out-of... In the first drive of the second half, the Bears tallied a tackle for loss and a breakup on a would-be 24-yard touchdown from Woolsey to Marc Kemp by Marloshawn Franklin. Franklin was busy in the second half, a after one slip and fall mistake by Darius Allensworth on a 39-yard touchdown to Kemp, the Warriors didn't throw at all to the left side of the field in the second half.
As the defense somewhat found its footing, so did Webb, who went 8 for 8 for 98 yards and one touchdown in the third quarter, completing his first nine passes out of the locker room.
On his first drive out of the break, Webb threw a 22-yard strike to Ray Hudson, and a 29-yard dart to Hansen to make up an unnecessary roughness penalty from Wharton. After hitting Jordan Veasy for eight, Webb hit freshman Melquise Stovall on a slant-and-go for a 14-yard touchdown -- the first for the freshman slot receiver -- to give the Bears a 41-17 lead with 8:18 to go in the third quarter.
That lead, however, was short-lived, as Steven Lakalaka tore off nine carries for 58 yards on Hawaii's next drive, almost all up the gut, to bring Hawaii within 17 points with 2:04 left in the stanza.
With the score 44-24, Cal kept Webb in the game, and he promptly hit Stovall for a 32-yard strike up the seam, with hands in his face, with 7:19 left in the game. Two plays later, he found Veasy up the seam for a 33-yard touchdown, the first of Veasy's career, to make it 51-24.
Hawaii, though, didn't go away, continuing to pound away at the middle of the Cal defensive line, allowing Woolsey to bounce outside for a 30-yard gain late in the fourth quarter, which set up a 15-yard touchdown run by Paul Harris.
- Muhammad rushed for 91 yards and one touchdown on seven carries, and returned three kickoffs for 116 yards, including a 47-yarder at the end of the third quarter. He finished with 207 all-purpose yards. He now has at least one run of 40 yards or more in each of his four seasons.
- Jordan Duncan, Robertson, Veasy, Stovall, Rivera and Wharton each recorded their first career catches at Cal.
- Dylan Klumph's first two punts in his Cal career (he had three on the day) both landed inside the 20, with a long of 39.
- Cal came up with three turnovers on the day -- a forced fumble on a kickoff return by Derron Brown, a fourth-quarter fumble by Saint Juste recovered by Luke Rubenzer with 12:20 to go in the game, and a first-quarter interception by nickel back Cameron Walker on Hawaii's first drive. It was his third career pick.
- Anderson went 3-for-3 on the day on field goals, tying his career high, and has now hit 13 straight, and 18 of 19 dating back to last season. He hit tries from 29, 22 and 25 yards.
- The Bears were 6-of-6 on red zone scoring opportunities for 30 points.
- Cornerback Ashtyn Davis tallied his first career breakup, on a 46-yard bomb late in the fourth quarter.
- Patrick Laird started the game by recovering an onside kick by Hawaii, setting up Muhammad's 34-yard touchdown run.
- Marshawn Lynch and former Australian Cal punter David Lonie were honorary team captains.
- Hawaiian offensive lineman Semisi Uluave was a regular at right guard in the second half, and his former teammate at Honolulu (HI) Punahou, Kanawai Noa -- who had a large contingent of family in attendance, and a brother on the Warriors -- caught one ball for 18 yards.
- Both Dominic Granado and Addison Ooms played center during the course of the game.