Quips, quotes and notes

STANFORD QB Chris Lewis might want to start getting fitted for a flak jacket if Cougar linebacker <b>Mawuli Davis'</b> work at Cal is an indication of what happens when the senior from Oakland gets to play in his own backyard.

Davis, a transfer from New Mexico State, made just his second-ever start as a Cougar --- and he was all over the field at Cal. He registered nine tackles and put a dandy hit on Kyle Boller that must have had visions of Tom Holmoe dancing in the quarterback's head.

Davis, an All-Bay Area performer at Skyline High, returns to the neighborhood in two weeks when the Cougs travel to Palo Alto. He's been a hugely pleasant surprise for the Cougars this season, coming from well down on the depth chart to supplant Kevin Sperry as the starting middle linebacker.

HAT'S OFF to defensive tackle Rien Long and offensive lineman Billy Knotts. Each was suspended for undisclosed disciplinary reasons for the Montana State game, but came back with a vengeance against Cal and were tabbed afterward by Mike Price as the players of the game at their respective positions. And speaking of players of the game, Jason Gesser's incredible work has earned him not only Pac-10 player of the week honors but national player of the week plaudits from USA Today. Gesser's handywork in Berkeley swelled his QB efficiency rating to 155.4 – 10th best in the nation. Arizona State's Andrew Walter is No. 1 at 185.8.

THE COUGAR INJURY outlook is better than it's been in ages as the cats gear up for Saturday's showdown between the No. 17-ranked school in the nation (WSU) and the No. 18 team (USC). Still, things could be better. Linebacker Will Derting (ankle) will be out again and fellow ‘backer Don Jackson (ankle) isn't 100 percent even though he played a bit at Cal. On offense, starting tackle Josh Parrish (broken leg) is out for at least another month. Coming out of Berkeley, the Cougs were sore but not much banged up. The only additions to list of the infirm were return man/receiver Sammy Moore (hamstring), receiver Jevon Miller (ankle) and linebacker Wes Patterson-Ausuma (shoulder). All three are backups.

WITH ALL THE long-distance plays they executed against Cal, the Cougars are now averaging 6.6 yards per offensive snap --- best in the Pac-10. And the Cougars' 308-yard average per game via the pass is sixth best in the nation.

HERE COME THE Trojans. The men of have Troy, fresh off a pasting of Oregon State, have been installed by oddsmakers as 3 1/2 point favorites against WSU. And for good reason --- USC has won the last six times they've played in Pullman and 27 of the last 30 regardless of location. The Cougar wins in that span were 1986 in Pullman, and 1997 and 2000 in Los Angeles.

Of note statistically is that USC does not rank in the top five in the Pac-10 for scoring, rushing yards or passing yards. But then again, the Trojans' schedule hasn't exactly been populated with the Idahos and Montana States of the world either. Before OSU, they're non-conference schedule was a killer – opening and winning against Auburn, traveling to and winning in Colorado and then losing on the road to Kansas State.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"Jason Gesser was bothered by a well-publicized rib injury last week. He must have rehabbed by watching replays of Muhammad Ali-George Foreman, 1974. Ali may have invented the rope-a-dope, but Gesser did a pretty snappy rendition Saturday at Memorial Stadium, laying low in the early going before delivering a fierce offensive flurry."
George Chikovano, The Daily Californian

"Was Gesser's outing simply a great quarterback at his best, or a reflection of a defense that is going to struggle against the Pac-10's better quarterbacks? Was the fact that Cal didn't put pressure on Gesser the result of tremendous offensive line protection by the Cougars or the inability of the Bears to make plays along the defensive front? Were Washington State's wide receivers running open down the middle due to mistakes in coverage or because Cal doesn't have the defensive backs to match up with teams that can put three or four quality wide receivers on the field at the same time?"
Jay Heater, Contra Costa Times

"Coaches like to say you can measure an athlete's strength and his speed, but you can't measure the size of his heart. Presumably, then, the health of the rib cage is a bit of a quandary too. So Washington State coaches don't know how much pain Jason Gesser felt Saturday when he took a blow to the thorax or tried to heave a football 50 yards downfield. They only know he endured it, beautifully."
Dale Grummert, Lewiston Morning Tribune

"California defensive coordinator Bob Gregory looked none the worse for wear after his team's 48-38 loss to Washington State on Saturday. Pressed slacks. Dress shirt. Smartly knotted tie. No visible scars or bruises. His insides were probably engaged in an acid reflux festival. But outwardly he seemed composed, even as he answered questions that were all pretty much variations on the theme: Could it have been much worse for you guys?
Gary Peterson Contra Costa Times

"The giddy launch of the Jeff Tedford era is over, and the often unglamorous side of a program under construction is now on view at Cal. A week after displaying their vulnerability to Air Force's persistent rushing attack, the Bears succumbed Saturday to the air bombardment of the not-so-hobbled Jason Gesser."
Brian Higgins, Oakland Tribune

"We pressured, we played man, we played zone. We called everything that was on the sheet. And none of it worked in the second half."
Cal D coordinator Bob Gregory in the San Francisco Examiner

"I played with a cracked rib last year, and I knew I could play with it this year. I pretty much gave Coach Price no choice in playing me today."
Jason Gesser

"The fact that Gesser would start just a week after separating cartilage in his ribs against Montana State was the worst-kept secret in Berkeley. That he fell just a yard short of matching his career-high in passing yardage -- established against Cal last season -- merely added insult to alleged injury."
San Jose Mercury News

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