Pac-10 Week 11 Notes and Observations: Cal Bears

By Sam Saig, November 17, 2009 4:46 pm

Cal Bears 7-3 Overall (4-3 Conference)

This Week’s Score: Cal 24 – Arizona 16

Next Week’s Opponent: @Stanford

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Cal last Saturday, as it has been difficult to read this team all season. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Bears come out with more energy than I have seen all year, and it seems fair to suggest that Jahvid Best provided the extra inspiration.

This was a payback game for Jeff Tedford’s club, and not just for the beat down in Tucson last season. I’m sure I don’t have to remind Cal fans about the 2006 debacle (also in Tucson) that prevented a potential Rose Bowl birth. Saturday, it was Cal who may have shattered ‘Zona’s Rose Bowl hopes.

While there was a lot to like about this performance, I must first give a shout out to defensive coordinator Bob Gregory. Gregory has been taking a ton of heat in Berkeley, and I can understand why. After all, this is one of the most physically gifted defenses in the conference, but the unit has struggled for most of the year.

Arizona possesses one of America’s most potent offensive attacks, and the ‘Cats really hadn’t been contained since Nick Foles took over at QB. Yet somehow, Gregory’s D was able to overwhelm Arizona with absolutely tenacious physical play.

The defensive line was phenomenal, especially against a UA rushing attack that was averaging about 200 yards per game (Arizona ran for 73 yards vs. Cal).  Gregory’s 3-4 scheme successfully stymied Sonny Dykes quick passing attack, and for the first time all season, Nick Foles seemed to have happy feet on a couple of plays.

The second shout out goes to RB Shane Vereen (30 carries 159 yards 1 TD). Technically, Vereen may be a backup tailback, but his performance Saturday reinforced the fact that he could start for most programs in the country.

Up next for Cal is you know who. The Big Game is even bigger this season, as there is a lot on the line for the boys from Palo Alto. The Bears are ranked 19th nationally in run defense, but their biggest test of the season awaits. Can Cal stop #7 in red? Should be a fun game.

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