After a seven-day hiatus from facing mobile quarterbacks the Beavers will once again have their hands full with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (6-2, 200) and the California Golden Bears this weekend.
The Bears have played just two games this season, but have put up big numbers both times. Rodgers has been a big part of their early success completing 31 of 42 (73.8%) passes for 474 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has also rushed for 14 yards and one touchdown on the turf while leading the nation in pass efficiency with a 192.8 rating.
The preseason 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year will be looking for revenge after last season’s dominating performance by the Beavers in Berkley. Oregon State held Rodgers to just 52 yards on 9 of 34 passing en route to a 35-21 OSU victory.
Rodgers is a confident, sharp player who can hurt the opposition with his fantastic arm or quick legs. His favorite receiver is All-American Geoff McArthur and together they form one of the most dangerous combinations in the collegiate ranks.
Oregon State’s defense must get to Rodgers early and often to shatter his confidence and keep him thinking about the hits. He has a history of starting off games hot and if he gets in a groove, he may be hard to slow down.
As good and efficient Rodgers has been, the Cal running backs have been even better. Led by senior J.J. Arrington (5-11, 200) the group is averaging 339 yards on the ground, good for third in the nation. On just 32 carries Arrington has piled up 358 yards and six touchdowns. He leads the nation in scoring with 18.0 ppg and ranks fourth in both rushing (179.0 ypg) and all-purpose yardage (199.0 ypg). He is the first back at Cal to run for three touchdowns in back to back games since 1993.
Arrington is explosive, as his 89-yard excursion against Air Force showed, and will be looking to prove his big numbers against non-conference competition were not a fluke. The Doak Walker is also a threat in the passing game where he has caught five passes for 30 yards.
The highly touted freshman Marshawn Lynch (5-11, 200) backs up Arrington and is the next talented back in Strawberry Canyon. Lynch has rushed of 136 yards and one touchdown on twelve carries. Junior Terrell Williams (6-0, 200) also sees time at tailback where he has gained 76 yards and scored two touchdowns on nine carries.
Behind, or should I say in front, of every team who puts up big numbers is an excellent offensive line. The Bears returned three starters from last year which has helped them put up big numbers during their non-conference match-ups.
Left tackle Andrew Cameron (605, 320) is one of the better up and coming offensive lineman in the league. The sophomore is equally adept at pass and run blocking and is working hard to become stronger. Left guard Jonathan Giesel (6-4, 300) has struggled with injuries throughout his career but is one of the more experienced players on the line with over 25 games under his belt.
Center Marvin Philip (6-2, 280) is physically mature and one of the stronger players on the team. He is aggressive, fires well off the block and is a Rimington Award candidate. Right guard Aaron Merz (6-4, 320) is relatively inexperienced but is performing well. Right tackle Ryan O’Callaghan (6-7, 340) is another physical lineman who takes pleasure in being physical with the opposition.
The Bears have a nice blend of underclassmen and veterans. Offensive line coach Jim Michalezik does an excellent job of creating a unified squad.
Butte Junior College gave Cal two junior college All-Americans in Aaron Rodgers and Garrett Cross (6-5, 230), the Bears starting tight end. Cross has big play ability and leads the team in receptions with eight. The John Mackey Award candidate has one touchdown and 118 yards for a 59.0 per game average, good for second on the team.
Redshirt freshman Craig Stevens (6-5, 250) is a slightly larger target than Cross and sees limited playing time.
Senior Chase Lyman (6-4, 210) leads the team in yards and touchdowns caught with 210 and two respectively. His 30.0 yards per catch is a team best and his 105.0 receiving yards per game is good for twelfth in the nation.
After putting up huge numbers in 2003 senior Geoff McArthur (6-1, 200) has had a rough start to 2003. He needs just a little under 400 yards to become the Bears all-time leading receiver but has just managed to grab just three catches for 38 yards this year.
Senior Jonathan Makonnen (6-0, 200), redshirt freshman Sean Young (5-10, 180), senior Burl Toler (6-2, 190), who has caught four catches for 42 yards; all receive playing time behind Lyman and McArthur.
Notes of the offense:
- The Bear offense ranks first in total offense (592.0), second in scoring (48.5), and third in both passing efficiency (185.6) and rushing (339.0).
- Five of Cal’s returning starters from last year are on at least on