QB Aaron Rodgers (PHOTO CREDIT - John Dunbar)

2003 Statistics

Coach: Jeff Tedford
15-11, 2 years
2003 Record: 8-6
Kansas State LOST 28-42
at Utah LOST 24-31
at Illinois WON 31-24
at UCLA LOST 20-23
at Arizona State WON 51-23
at Oregon LOST 17-21
at Stanford WON 28-16
Virginia Tech WON 52-49

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

Fans and media have already dubbed Cal "the up and coming program," and deservingly so. Cal has one of the best coaching staffs in the nation, led by Jeff Tedford. The Bears represent a state in which talent is of abundance. Two winning seasons in a row have left fans in Berkeley thinking that this team is ready for bigger and better things, and we would tend to agree with that statement. The schedule is quite manageable, and the talent is there. Answering a few questions on defense will be the difference between a 7-win campaign and a Rose Bowl caliber club.

It's quite unfortunate that this season will be measured only by how well the Bears perform in Los Angeles against (one of) the defending national champions. Don't underestimate the impact that defeating the Trojans in L.A. would have on this team, and the Cal program overall. This game means everything to the fans, and to the players. A win here would solidify Cal's place as a Pac-10 contender, while a loss would simply write them off as another over-hyped and underachieving media darling. Of course, their worth is through more than just this huge rematch. One loss can often mean a national championship, so….

We'll know early on whether or not Cal deserves the attention they've been getting. Four out of the first five games are on the road, including pivotal conference tilts against USC and Oregon State. Stability ushers in the second half of the slate, for it's then back to Berkeley for four of the remaining six.

This team is explosive on offense in every sense of the word, especially through the air. Cal will score points. Doing so is nearly crucial to making a sizable splash in the oft-defenseless Pac-10. The Cal defense will be reliable, more so than the Bears have had in some time, and many fans truly believe that the kicking game will vastly improve. All the pieces are in place for Cal to live up to high expectations set for them this season. The only question left to be answered is whether or not they're ready to handle the pressure of being a conference favorite with a bulls-eye on their back(s).

Projected 2004 record: 8-3
DT Lorenzo Alexander (PHOTO CREDIT - Tom Hauck)
QB - 4.5 DL - 2.5
RB - 3 LB - 3.5
WR - 4 DB - 4
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Aaron Rodgers, 349-215-5, 2903 yds., 19 TD

Rushing: J.J. Arrington, 107 att., 607 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Geoff McArthur, 85 rec., 1504 yds., 10 TD

Scoring: Geoff McArthur, 10 TD’s, 60 pts.

Punting: Lucas Everett, 6 punts, 34.0 avg.


Tackles: Donnie McClesky, 102 tot., 75 solo, 12 TFL

Sacks: Wendell Hunter, 7 sacks

Interceptions: Daymeion Hughes, 2 for 72 yds.

Kickoff Returns: J.J. Arrington, 2 ret., 19.5 avg.

Punt Returns: Tim Mixon, 7 ret., 10.9 avg.


April 17, 2004 - Unlike previous years, Cal's Spring Game on Saturday, April 17, was staged as a "situational scrimmage". The Bears dispensed with the traditional running clock and scoring, instead featured specific drills that are designed to entertain those Cal football fans in attendance. The Golden Bears went through a series of drills for the first 90 minutes, then closed out the day with a situational scrimmage that included 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 sequences. Head Coach Jeff Tedford was especially gratified with Sam DeSa's execution, which included a 60-yard kickoff return, adding that he "separated himself at kick returner and wide receiver. He's very versatile." On defense, Tedford singled out the play of redshirt-freshman cornerback Thomas DeCoud. With returning starter Aaron Rodgers sitting out all contact drills due to offseason knee surgery, senior Reggie Robertson and redshirt-freshman Cary Dove received the bulk of the work at quarterback. In live action Saturday, Robertson was 4-for-7 for 39 yards, while Dove was 4-for-6 for 64 yards and ran three times for another 25 yards. Tailback Terrell Williams, who redshirted last year due to a knee injury, finished the spring with a flourish, rushing four times for 53 yards, including a 49-yard TD sprint. Other highlights from Saturday's play were a 45-yard touchdown catch by Smith and an interception by Ryan Gutierrez. Cal went through spring drills without a number of injured players - many on the offensive line - that forced the Spring Game format to be changed to the situational arrangement Tedford set up. However, the Cal coach said all of the injured players appeared to be on schedule to return in the fall, and he was confident they would be ready to go when the Bears report for camp Aug. 10.

OFFENSE: Vincent Strang-WR, Mark Wilson-OT, Chris Murphy-OT, Nolan Bluntzer-C, Brandon Hall-TE, Adimchinobe Echemandu-TB, Tyler Fredrickson-K/P
DEFENSE: Monte Parson-DE, Josh Beckham-NT, James Bethea-CB

Bringing up the QB situation in Berkeley would incite an explosion of jubilee heading into the 2004 Bear football campaign. Junior Aaron Rodgers is more than capable of leading the high-flying Cal offense for a second straight year. Cal began the 2003 season with a two QB system, watching both Aaron Rodgers and now-senior Reggie Robertson get a significant amount of snaps. Following the loss to Colorado State, Rodgers seemed to become the top guy for Cal. Both are athletic runners with sharp minds and crisp throws. Rogers just seems to have grasped this level that much more quickly, so Robertson sits until Rogers gives Cal a reason to make a change. Either way, it looks good at this position for the Bears.

Running Back
J.J. Arrington is most certainly the man with the inside track heading into '04, but incoming freshman Marshawn Lynch (consensus top five) figures to get some carries. There are some who think there is a lack of depth at running back. Regardless, expect this unit to become more and more productive in both running and catching as the season progresses. Rogers has great feet for a good run or two per half, and Marcus O'Keith (4.4 sec. 40-time) could carry much of the running payload if necessary. A former walk-on and in-state native, junior FB Chris Manderino (Newport Beach) has always risen to that next level. His sure hands have proven an asset for two years running, and Chris' even more-sure lead-blocking is why the team averaged 4.3 yards per run.

Wide Receiver
The depth of this unit is so scary that it warrants use of the word "unstoppable" in its depiction. Geoff McArthur returns from an unbelievable junior season in which he amassed 1504 yards to rank 2nd in the nation. After Cal's previous #1 receiver, Johnathan Makonnen, broke his foot in the opener against K-State, McArthur became the go-to-guy, and Burl Toler seized the other starting spot. They are all back and healthy. Keep an eye out for Chase Lyman, who had a blow out game versus Virginia Tech in place of an injured McArthur. His contributions will make this group even more difficult to defend. We'd be shocked if Tedford didn't use three- and four-wide sets in order to maximize the possibilities of such a dominant group. There's experienced depth all the way down to the fifth and sixth guys on the chart. This group will be mind-numbingly solid in 2004.

Tight End
It sure seemed as if Cal's tight ends caught a nasty case of the "dropsies" in '03. The sum of all Cal TE receptions totaled 35. While we do expect this number to improve slightly, there is no reason to believe that Garrett Cross and co. will be anything for opponents to fear. Poignant early-game middle-seem routes for these TEs would open up LBs and safeties to playing on their heels, something we obviously recommend.

Offensive Line
The Bears lose three starters from the veteran group of 2003. The biggest loss is All Pac-10 tackle Mark Wilson. Although this group is new up front, the only one without starting experience is sophomore Andrew Cameron. The key question is the uncertainty of positional placement. Rumors of LG Aaron Merz moving to RT and senior Johnathan Giesel starting at LG are swirling around Berkeley. Coach Tedford also expects JC All-American Brian Deemer to step in and make an immediate impact. The way this unit performs will ostensibly dictate the effectiveness of the Cal offense and, in turn, the Bear's chance(s) at a Pac-10 crown.

The Bear offense simply has too much firepower to be stopped, unless poor line play allows cal to be stopped. The key to beating Cal will be containing the offense rather than stopping it. Look for the Bears to put up offensive numbers that rival those of anyone else in the country. The only real issue is the uncertainty surrounding the line. If the big guys up front are able to hold their own and help kick the running game in so as to balance things and keep defenses honest, this offense will be a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare. It should be interesting to see all the schemes and tricks that Tedford is able to create with this kind of explosive talent.


WR Geoff McArthur (PHOTO CREDIT - Michael Pimentel)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Aaron Rodgers-Jr (6-2, 195) Reggie Robertson-Sr (6-2, 190)
FB Chris Manderino-Jr (6-1, 230) Frank Summers-Fr (5-11, 250)
TB J.J. Arrington-Sr (5-11, 215) Terrell Williams-Jr (6-0, 200)
Marcus O'Keith-So (6-1, 175)
WR Burl Toler-Sr (6-2, 185) Jonathan Makonnen-Sr (6-0, 175)
WR Geoff McArthur-Sr (6-1, 200) Chase Lyman-Sr (6-4, 215)
Sam DeSa-Fr (5-11, 180)
TE Garrett Cross-Sr (6-5, 235) Craig Stevens-Fr (6-5, 250)
OT Derek Joyce-Sr (6-7, 290) Andrew Cameron-So (6-5, 310)
OG Jonathan Giesel-Sr (6-4, 300) Erik Robertson-Fr (6-2, 315)
C Marvin Philip-Jr (6-2, 285) Scott Smith-So (6-4, 280)
OG Aaron Merz-Jr (6-4, 335) Bryan Deemer-Jr (6-4, 300)
OT Ryan O'Callaghan-Jr (6-7, 330) James Lattos-Jr (6-5, 295)
K David Lonie-Jr (6-6, 200) Tom Schneider-Fr (6-0, 200)
Burl Toler....TOE-ler
Jonathan Giesel....GEE-sel
David Lonie....LOAN-ee
Jonathan Makonnen....muh-KOE-nen
Sam DeSa....deh-SAH
James Lattos....LAT-ose



Defensive Line
The loss of NT Josh Beckham leaves a hole in the middle that becomes an unknown as the spring approaches. The lack of depth necessitates the need for a breakout player before the start of 2004, and could create major concerns should the injury bug hit. The other three projected starters are all seniors, and all have some adequate playing time under their belts. Incoming freshman Phillip Mbakougu may very well unseat Ryan Riddle for one DE spot before the end of the season, a good competition that creates needed depth here - both are excellent. Opposite of them will be senior Tosh Lupoi, who played in 13 '03 games and marginally excelled, too. The ends shouldn't be a problem, but there seems to be a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the middle of the Bear defensive line. Does backup DT Tom Sverchek take the NT spot? Will Jeff Tedford offer Mbakougu the opportunity to compete? This appears to be the weakest area of the Cal defense heading into spring ball. The real question is whether or not the ground games of the Pac-10 will be able to exploit it enough to really hurt the Bears. Opponents did such to the tune of 133 yards per game at a 3.7 yards-per-try clip, so these replacements could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, eh.

Whenever there are three seniors at the second level, fans tend to expect a great performance out of their front-seven. Cal finished 37th nationally in rush-defense, and fans will most certainly expect improvement upon those numbers. If the Bears are to improve, the reformation will have to start with the linebackers. The line will be able to put helmet-on-helmet so as to allow the LBs to fill the gaps accordingly for run-stops…and the line ultimately requiring double-teams would allow this ranking ascension to be achieved. This group, anchored by Wendell Hunter on the outside, will be one of the better units in the conference. Depth seems marginally solid as of now - two seniors also man backing positions, but this could become an issue as things progress. The emergence of younger players is a necessity for Cal.

Defensive Back
With the exception of CB James Bethea, this secondary returns in tact. But many "Bear Backers" might be questioning whether or not that's a good sign. Cal's secondary has been streaky - porous at times, steady at others. The erratic play in the defensive backfield has left fans in Berkeley holding their breath during every pass. Having an inconsistent secondary usually doesn't bode well in Pac-10 play, so any stability the Bears may find in younger players is crucial to a conference title run. The maturation of ROV Donnie McCleskey and FS Ryan Gutierrez will tell us early on whether or not this team is a legit contender in the Pac-10 or simply another victim of high expectations. They will be better than in '03, when they has the 91st-ranked pass-defense, but how much better will go a long way toward determining the Bears' overall team fate.

There are some defensive questions that must be answered before this team is ready to show that it belongs at the top of its own conference, let alone on the national stage. The defensive line will hold up throughout, but is this secondary ready for the rigors of Pac-10 play? If not, is anyone else willing to step up? This side of the ball will be more critical for overall success, and this defense is not to be written off by any means. Nine of eleven starters are back from a young 2003 team, so improvement is certain. We think that this defense has enough experience and talent to be a nice complement to the Bear offense, but how long that takes is the key for this squad's gridiron destiny.


ROV Donnie McCleskey (PHOTO CREDIT - Tom Hauck)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Tosh Lupoi-Sr (6-3, 250) Justin Johnson-Jr (6-3, 245)
DT Lorenzo Alexander-Sr (6-3, 295) Matt Melele-Fr (6-3, 300)
NT Tom Sverchek-Sr (6-3, 295) Brandon Mebane-So (6-3, 250)
DE Ryan Riddle-Sr (6-3, 240) Ray Tago-Sr (6-3, 250)
OLB Wendell Hunter-Sr (6-1, 230) Brian Tremblay-Sr (6-1, 235)
MLB Joe Maningo-Sr (6-1, 220) Sid Slater-Sr (6-2, 225)
OLB Francis Blay-Miezah-Sr (6-2, 230) Ryan Estes-Jr (6-2, 215)
CB Daymeion Hughes-So (6-2, 175) Thomas DeCoud-Fr (6-3, 190)
CB Harrison Smith-Jr (6-2, 190) Tim Mixon-So (5-8, 170)
ROV Donnie McCleskey-Jr (5-10, 180) Mike McGrath-Sr (5-11, 195)
Ryan Foltz-Jr (6-2, 210)
FS Ryan Gutierrez-Jr (6-0, 180) Matt Giordano-Sr (6-0, 190)
P Lucas Everett-Sr (6-2, 200) David Lonie-Jr (6-6, 200)
Tosh Lupoi....LOO-poi
Francis Blay-Miezah....BLY-MEE-zah
Daymeion Hughes....DAY-mee-un
Ryan Gutierrez....goo-tee-ERR-ez
Matt Melele....muh-LAY-LAY
Ray Tago....TAH-go
Thomas DeCoud....duh-COO
Matt Giordano....jee-or-DON-oh
David Lonie....LOAN-ee




Erratic? Unstable? Pathetic? You can call it whatever you'd like, but this unit has been flat out awful. The poor kicking game nearly cost Cal the USC upset, and became the difference in close contests against Colorado State, Utah, and UCLA. Now that senior Tyler Fredrickson is gone, can we expect an improvement? Incoming JUCO David Lonie was highly touted by many analysts, and is expected to steady up the Bear kicking game.

The competition for punting duties has begun, and it's unknown exactly who will end up with the starting nod. One figures that juco-transfer Lucas Everett (also a PK) is the basic choice, having been in the program for four years, but incoming kicker David Lonie could also compete here. Either is up to the challenge.

Return Game
J.J. Arrington has been the Bear return man, but that is expected to change. Since many believe that Arrington will lock up the starting RB position, it is thought that the Bears would use either incoming freshman Marshawn Lynch or Marcus O'Keith to return kicks and punts. Either will excel through developmental needs and should prove positive influences on the field position game(s).

The coverage on kicks and punts has been adequate, but not much better. Save for the DeAngelo Hall punt return TD in the Insight Bowl, Cal prevented the opposition from gaining big plays on special teams. They'll need to continue that trend in '04. With a defense that is unproven in many facets, giving up great field position is not an option for the Bears.



It was hard to gauge Cal's offensive production with all five starting linemen, and QB Aaron Rodgers sitting out spring practice with injuries. Luckily for the Bears, all six will be back to open the 2004 campaign. The WRs were, as expected, the highlight of early practices. Aside from Geoff McArthur, whom we were all aware of previously, Jonathan Makonnen returned to old form this spring and should occupy the second string after sitting out 2003 with injury. The biggest surprise was young wideout Sam DeSa, who stole the show and took offensive MVP honors for the Bears. At TE, Craig Stevens has taken over as the starter although Garrett Cross, who sat out this spring, should still see significant time. Senior TB J.J. Arrington has reportedly dropped 10-15 pounds heading into early practices, and as a result has become a faster, more fluid runner. Incoming freshman Marshawn Lynch, assuming he qualifies, will end up at #3 for the Bears.


There's still uncertainty throughout the front-seven for Cal. Nothing has changed at DE depth thus far for the Bears, but this does appear to be a weak point. Expect incoming consensus-top five DE Phillip Mbakogu to make a noticeable impact on the pass rush, as Tedford has been very high on this prized recruit. Senior OLB Wendell Hunter has beefed up and added another ten pounds to his frame, without appearing to lose speed as a result. Projected starting MLB Joe Maningo sat out spring practices with an unknown injury, but should be back in time. All the buzz on defense has been about CB Daymeion Hughes, who has been described as a "blanket", even when paired against McArthur. Coaches have praised Hughes' strong recovery and man-to-man coverage skills.


WRs Sam DeSa and Sean Young, both RS freshmen, (for now) have the edge as kickoff returners. DeSa has almost exclusively taken over at PR. David Lonie has secured the starting spot at punter, but a steady kicker has yet to be named.


Offensive MVP:
WR Sam DeSa
Defensive MVP: CB Daymeion Hughes
Newcomer: CB Thomas DeCoud
Spring MVP: CB Daymeion Hughes