Arrington and Rodgers lead balanced attack

<p class=txt>The California Golden Bears continued their march to the top 10 with a convincing 41-14 victory against New Mexico State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. <p class=txt>That acknowledged, the game did not start well for the Bears. They opened up as though the players had dinner dates at 7 p.m. and planned to &#8220;just run the ball for a while and get out of here as quickly as possible&#8221;.<br><br>

After the Aggies countered an early Cal score with one of their own, the Bears phoned in their dinner cancellations and started throwing the ball. The result was three touchdowns in less than eight minutes. This avalanche of points gave Cal a 26-7 halftime lead, enabling the Bear faithful to sit back and enjoy the halftime show with confidence that the game was well in hand.
The first of the three series that led to second-quarter touchdowns was a six-play sequence culminating in a 27-yard toss to a wide-open Garrett Cross down the right sideline. Four different receivers made catches during the drive, two running backs, one receiver, and the tight end.

In the second sequence, Rodgers completed a 37-yard pass to Chase Lyman to set up a 12-yard touchdown run by J.J. Arrington. During the third, Cal moved 63 yards in three plays in just 25 seconds, culminating with a 25-yard Rodgers-to-Lyman touchdown with less than a minute to go in the first half.

The game was already out of reach for the Aggies.

BEAR OFFENSE

Arrington followed his 16-carry, 181-yard, three-touchdown effort vs. Air Force Academy with a 16-carry, 177-yard, three-touchdown game against New Mexico State. While it is unrealistic to expect Arrington to sustain that kind of consistency through the whole season, he has demonstrated that he is capable of some big games at any level of competition. His 69-yard burst up the middle was an outstanding effort.

Aaron Rodgers’ statistics (20-26 for 266 yards and two touchdowns) were exceptional … but not unexpected. The mark of a gifted athlete is the ability to make the game look easy, and Rodgers has that ability. Cal fans are privileged to be watching this exceptional talent. The position Rodgers plays is not nearly as easy as he makes it appear.

Erik Robertson replaced an injured Jonathan Geisel on the offensive line in the second quarter and did a superior job of blocking. An early-season Bear concern has been the depth along the offensive line; Robertson’s effort did much to mitigate those apprehensions.

Tight end Garrett Cross, now the team's leading receiver with eight catches, had six receptions for 65 yards and one touchdown. Cross showed excellent hands and his rapport with Rodgers that dates back to their playing time together at Butte Junior College. The communication between the two is especially evident when Rodgers looks to Cross to make plays in key situations; this season half of Cross’ receptions have resulted in first downs.

BEAR DEFENSE

The defensive line tallied their first sacks of the season (Ryan Riddle: 1.5; Tom Sverchek: 1.5; Steve Kelly: 1.0). Kelly’s sack came on the first series of the second half when he blew in from the left side and nailed Aggie QB Buck Pierce. The Bears followed this drive–killing play with a touchdown on the following possession.

Matt Giordano and Ryan Gutierrez had outstanding games. Giordano led the team with eight tackles and both he and Gutierrez tallied several big hits. Their play established the fact that future Bear opponents have to keep their head on a swivel when entering the secondary.

Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane played sparingly and defensive end/defensive tackle Phillip Mbakogu saw considerable action at defensive tackle. Although Mbakogu did not register any tackles, he acquitted himself well playing inside.

BEAR SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter David Lonie brought excitement to the field with his initial effort, an impressive 50-yard kick that brought a collective gasp from the Memorial Stadium crowd but left it in a oddly paradoxical mood: Do we root for more touchdowns or for more Lonie punts?

Lonie demonstrated that he has the leg strength to make long field goal attempts with a 51-yard effort in the third-quarter that was long enough, but wide left.

Otherwise, this was an unremarkable day for the special teams units. There were no plays of note (well, maybe one, linebacker Chris Purtz’s uncalled for shot to the head of a New Mexico State player). Special Teams Coach Pete Alamar will certainly address this breakdown immediately because discipline will be essential when the Bears match up against more talented foes.

SUMMARY

The Bears were a bit tight early in the game. Perhaps they were trying too hard to please the record-setting opening day crowd of 58,949. A key example: WR Geoff McArthur dropped a pass from Rodgers on the Bears first series of the game – this was the first dropped ball by G-Mac in memory.

What is clear from first two games is that the Bear offense will definitely give defensive coordinators big headaches all season, and that the Bear defense has not yet rally been challenged.

GAME BALL

J.J. Arrington gets our Game Ball – with a particular note of applause for his 69-yard dash to the end zone while steadily pulling away from the New Mexico State defender.

It was a close vote, though, so honorable mentions go to Aaron Rodgers, Garrett Cross and Chase Lyman.

©Copyright 2004, TheBearInsider.com and The Insiders. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this online community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Insider's network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.

Chris Avery, Publisher


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After the Aggies countered an early Cal score with one of their own, the Bears phoned in their dinner cancellations and started throwing the ball. The result was three touchdowns in less than eight minutes. This avalanche of points gave Cal a 26-7 halftime lead, enabling the Bear faithful to sit back and enjoy the halftime show with confidence that the game was well in hand.
The first of the three series that led to second-quarter touchdowns was a six-play sequence culminating in a 27-yard toss to a wide-open Garrett Cross down the right sideline. Four different receivers made catches during the drive, two running backs, one receiver, and the tight end.

In the second sequence, Rodgers completed a 37-yard pass to Chase Lyman to set up a 12-yard touchdown run by J.J. Arrington. During the third, Cal moved 63 yards in three plays in just 25 seconds, culminating with a 25-yard Rodgers-to-Lyman touchdown with less than a minute to go in the first half.

The game was already out of reach for the Aggies.

BEAR OFFENSE

Arrington followed his 16-carry, 181-yard, three-touchdown effort vs. Air Force Academy with a 16-carry, 177-yard, three-touchdown game against New Mexico State. While it is unrealistic to expect Arrington to sustain that kind of consistency through the whole season, he has demonstrated that he is capable of some big games at any level of competition. His 69-yard burst up the middle was an outstanding effort.

Aaron Rodgers’ statistics (20-26 for 266 yards and two touchdowns) were exceptional … but not unexpected. The mark of a gifted athlete is the ability to make the game look easy, and Rodgers has that ability. Cal fans are privileged to be watching this exceptional talent. The position Rodgers plays is not nearly as easy as he makes it appear.

Erik Robertson replaced an injured Jonathan Geisel on the offensive line in the second quarter and did a superior job of blocking. An early-season Bear concern has been the depth along the offensive line; Robertson’s effort did much to mitigate those apprehensions.

Tight end Garrett Cross, now the team's leading receiver with eight catches, had six receptions for 65 yards and one touchdown. Cross showed excellent hands and his rapport with Rodgers that dates back to their playing time together at Butte Junior College. The communication between the two is especially evident when Rodgers looks to Cross to make plays in key situations; this season half of Cross’ receptions have resulted in first downs.

BEAR DEFENSE

The defensive line tallied their first sacks of the season (Ryan Riddle: 1.5; Tom Sverchek: 1.5; Steve Kelly: 1.0). Kelly’s sack came on the first series of the second half when he blew in from the left side and nailed Aggie QB Buck Pierce. The Bears followed this drive–killing play with a touchdown on the following possession.

Matt Giordano and Ryan Gutierrez had outstanding games. Giordano led the team with eight tackles and both he and Gutierrez tallied several big hits. Their play established the fact that future Bear opponents have to keep their head on a swivel when entering the secondary.

Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane played sparingly and defensive end/defensive tackle Phillip Mbakogu saw considerable action at defensive tackle. Although Mbakogu did not register any tackles, he acquitted himself well playing inside.

BEAR SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter David Lonie brought excitement to the field with his initial effort, an impressive 50-yard kick that brought a collective gasp from the Memorial Stadium crowd but left it in a oddly paradoxical mood: Do we root for more touchdowns or for more Lonie punts?

Lonie demonstrated that he has the leg strength to make long field goal attempts with a 51-yard effort in the third-quarter that was long enough, but wide left.

Otherwise, this was an unremarkable day for the special teams units. There were no plays of note (well, maybe one, linebacker Chris Purtz’s uncalled for shot to the head of a New Mexico State player). Special Teams Coach Pete Alamar will certainly address this breakdown immediately because discipline will be essential when the Bears match up against more talented foes.

SUMMARY

The Bears were a bit tight early in the game. Perhaps they were trying too hard to please the record-setting opening day crowd of 58,949. A key example: WR Geoff McArthur dropped a pass from Rodgers on the Bears first series of the game – this was the first dropped ball by G-Mac in memory.

What is clear from first two games is that the Bear offense will definitely give defensive coordinators big headaches all season, and that the Bear defense has not yet rally been challenged.

GAME BALL

J.J. Arrington gets our Game Ball – with a particular note of applause for his 69-yard dash to the end zone while steadily pulling away from the New Mexico State defender.

It was a close vote, though, so honorable mentions go to Aaron Rodgers, Garrett Cross and Chase Lyman.

©Copyright 2004, TheBearInsider.com and The Insiders. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this online community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Insider's network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.

Chris Avery, Publisher

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