Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: Bears prepare for Colorado; Cal in second road game in a row

Cal Bears head coach Justin Wilcox had worry on his mind all game long against the Washington State Cougars at Pullman on Sat Oct 1, 2022 (AP News photo)

On the Cal Bears podcast:

#1 Morris, like you questioned in your column on Saturday can the Cal Bears (3-2) win a game on the road?

#2 Cal is in last with a 3-2 record how concerned is head coach Justin Wilcox?

#3 To quote Wilcox after the game “We got nothing going in the run game,” coach Justin Wilcox admitted. “Pass protection wasn’t where it needed to be. 

#4 Cal quarterback Jack Plummer went 23-33 for 273 yards against the Washington State Cougars (4-1) but did not throw one touchdown and one interception. Coach Wilcox mentioned lack of pass protection was that more the case or Plummer just couldn’t get settled in to find targets?

#5 The Bears have a bye this Sat 7th and return to action on Sat Oct 15th to continue their road trip and face the Colorado Buffaloes (0-5) in Colorado. The Buffaloes were trampled on by the Arizona Wildcats last Saturday 43-20. Is Colorado Cal’s best chance to pick up their first win of the season?

Join Morris Phillips for Cal Bears podcasts at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Bears Blues: Cal bows out quietly in 28-9 loss at Washington State

By Morris Phillips

The question “Can the Cal Bears win one on the road?” became more burdensome as the afternoon in Pullman, Washington progressed.

As in “Can the Bears win on the road if they don’t score first, don’t get a big afternoon from Jaydn Ott, or if they score a measly fraction of the 49 points they put up on Arizona last week?”

The answer: No, no, no and no.

In losing 28-9 to Washington State, the Bears wasted a first half of solid play defensively by failing to gain any consistency on offense in either half. The Bears brief moment of competitiveness–Ott’s 2-yard touchdown run at the outset of the fourth quarter–failed to resonate when two Bears tripped over each other on a failed, two-point conversion attempt that would have trimmed their deficit to 14-11.

“We got nothing going in the run game,” coach Justin Wilcox admitted. “Pass protection wasn’t where it needed to be. We’re all gonna share in that, but we didn’t expect to be as poor as we were in those areas today, especially coming off of last week.”

The Bears have lost nine of their last 10 road games dating back to 2020.

Cal scored 49 points in racing past Arizona at home last week, but the host Cougars kept Cal from converting 11 third down opportunities resulting in nine Cal punts. Once seven Cal plays that loss yardage and four sacks of quarterback Jake Plummer were factored in Cal’s offense numbers shrank dramatically.

Ott, the freshman who gained 274 yards rushing against Arizona, was productive again, but nowhere near spectacular. On 23 touches, run and pass, Ott gained 110 yards and had double-digit gainers on the ground and through the air. Jeremiah Hunter (109 yards receiving) and J. Michael Sturdivant (six catches, 71 yards) were factors as well. But the trio’s numbers didn’t amount to much on the scoreboard.

“A couple of big plays in the air, and that was nice to see, but we gotta score more than that, everybody knows that,” Wilcox said.

FCS-transfer quarterback Cameron Ward threw for 343 yards and two scores to lead WSU despite throwing two interceptions. Ward connected with Robert Ferrel for a beautifully-timed and placed TD pass to open the third quarter that increased WSU’s lead to 14-3. In the fourth quarter Ward hit Renard Bell for a 37-yard score and a 21-9 lead.

Ward also extended plays with his feet, and that was more influential than the turnovers as the Cougars converted six, third down opportunities and two more on fourth down.

“We had three or four chances for some negative plays on them, but we just couldn’t get him on the ground,” Wilcox said of the mobile Ward.

Beyond the four sacks, Jack Plummer was harassed throughout by the Washington State pass rush, and he suffered a knee injury late in the game. No report was released regarding the severity of the injury with the Bears now having two weeks to prepare for their next game at Colorado.

Plummer finished 22 of 33 for 273 yards.

“We obviously don’t want him to get hit,” offensive lineman Matthew Cindrich said. “We definitely have to look ourselves in the mirror and say what can we do to not let that happen anymore.”

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: Homecooking puts Golden Bears back in win column; Cal’s Ott runs past Wildcats in Berkeley

Cal Bears Jaydn Ott rushes for a 73 yard carry against the Arizona Wildcats on Sat Sep 24, 2022 at Cal Memorial Stadium in Berkeley (AP News photo)

On the Cal Bears podcast with Morris:

#1 Morris after a tough loss at Notre Dame last week the Cal Bears redeemed themselves with a rather convincing win over the Arizona at Cal Berkeley last Saturday 49-31.

#2 Basically the mantra was give the ball to Jaydn Ott and when Cal quarterback Jack Plummer did Ott was off to the races carrying for 274 yards and three touchdowns.

#3 On a second play of the first quarter from scrimmage Ott was so reliable he took the ball and ran for 73 yards. Ott also who appeared to have been stopped on another play turned around and took the ball for an 18 yard carry.

#4 Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said of Ott that he’d seen flashes for a long time and has a lot of ability to take it to the house. Morris do you view this game as a break out game for Ott?

#5 On Sat Oct 1st the Bears head to Pullman to take on the Washington State Cougars. The Cougars got edged by the Oregon Ducks 44-41 before that loss the Cougars had won three straight games. This no doubt will be another big test for coach Wilcox and the Bears.

Join Morris for the Cal Bears podcasts at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: Just wasn’t meant to be for Cal; Loss comes down to tipped ball

Notre Dame safety Brandon Joseph (16) and Cal Bears wide receiver Mavin Anderson (11) jump for the ball as the ball was tipped and bounced off several players in the last second of the game at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend on Sat Sep 17, 2022 (AP News photo)

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips:

#1 Drew Pyne quarterback of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-2) made inroads in his first game under center for the Irish. Pyne threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the Notre Dame 24-17 win in South Bend Indiana over the Cal Bears (2-1).

#2 Morris the win was also pretty special for Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman it was his first victory as head coach for Notre Dame.

#3 The Irish came in ranked No.5 to start the season and had to comeback from behind three times to beat the Bears by a touchdown.

#4 Morris, tough finish for the Bears missed a last second shot when Cal quarterback Jack Plummer let one loose in the end zone as the ball bounced several players and receiver Jeremiah Hunter had it in his hands but the ball ended up off his hands and on the end zone grass.

#5 The Arizona Wildcats (2-1) will be playing the Bears next Sat Sep 24th at Cal Memorial. The Wildcats are coming off a 31-28 win against the North Dakota State Bison (2-1). Wildcats quarterback Jayden de Laura threw for 229 yards and one touchdown. Morris how do you see the Wildcats and Bears matching up this coming Saturday?

Morris Phillips does the Cal Bears football podcasts at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Irish Smell Blood: Notre Dame survives Cal’s initial success, and pulls away in a 24-17 win

By Morris Phillips

Once Notre Dame minimized the negativity of an 0-2 start, a halftime deficit in game three, keeping the focus on themselves and their physical advantages, the California Bears were made to pay.

Cal’s first trip to South Bend since 1967 was far more competitive than the last, but the Fighting Irish prevailed 24-17 on the strength of a decisive, fourth quarter in which Cal was shutout.

In the end, coach Marcus Freeman was the most emotional member of the Irish’s sideline, and that was a good thing for the hosts.

“I think we we’re down three, and I just said, this isn’t going to be a repeat,” said Freeman, after his first career win, excited and nearly breathless in his post-game comments. “This isn’t going to be here we go again. We are going to change the outcome of this game. And it’s going to be by our offense going out there and doing what we have to do and executing, and then our defense when we get the opportunity we’re going to go out there and execute. And that’s what you saw. We needed that. That was a big moment for us, because I could see it on some guy’s faces, and even mine, ‘Oh, shoot, here we go again.’ It’s not here we go again.”

Cal lead 7-0, 10-7 and 17-14 when Freeman made his declaration. And from that point the second half simply didn’t go Cal’s way. The Irish’s punishing run attack found the first crack in Cal’s armor, and their defense, specifically a relentless, pass rush with seven dropping in coverage kept quarterback Jack Plummer from doing anything decisive.

Trailing 24-17 midway through the fourth quarter, the Bears drove to the Notre Dame 22, but suffered three straight incompletions followed by Isaiah Foskey’s sack of Plummer on fourth down.

Cal regained possession with 1:03 remaining and appeared cooked when Plummer was intercepted on first down. But a review of the play revealed a targeting foul on safety J.D. Bertrand that occurred before the interception and allowed Cal to retain possession.

Plummer then completed passes on four, consecutive plays to get Cal to the Notre Dame 29, but a sack, and an incomplete pass left Cal with the game’s final play from the 35. Plummer threw the ball in the end zone and saw several players tip it, including Cal’s Jeremiah Hunter, but the ball hit the ground ending the game.

“We played them down to the last play, Plummer said. “It was exciting. If we had scored there, we were going for two and try to get out of there.”

Plummer’s afternoon mirrored his team’s as a whole. The Purdue transfer finished 16 of 37 for 184 yards, with much of the production coming early and the incomplete passes late. But throughout the quarterback showed a surprising, running dynamic with 12 carries for 34 yards including a 24-yard gain in the second half. That dimension kept Cal alive at key junctures and in position to steal the game at the finish.

“We had chances to win. Too many errors. One or two more plays,” coach Justin Wilcox said.

The Bears enjoyed early success with the game’s first score, an 18-yard pass to J. Michael Sturdivant, who was wide open in the end zone behind the defense. Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne, who started in place of the injured Tyler Buchner, showed rust in the first half as did his receivers, who dropped a couple of passes.

A phantom offsides penalty on the Cal field goal coverage unit gave the Irish a second opportunity in Cal territory which they cashed in for their first score of the game. Chris Tyree’s 21-yard catch-and-run got Notre Dame even, 7-7.

At halftime, a frustrated Wilcox declined to comment on the offsides call that set up the score. Replay showed there was no movement along the Cal defensive front on the play.

The Bears open conference play on Saturday at Memorial Stadium against Arizona.

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: Can Cal handle Notre Dame in first road game of the season

The Cal Bears Jaydn Ott takes a dive into the end zone for six points against the UNLV Running Rebels on Sat Sep 10, 2022 at Cal Memorial Stadium in Berkeley (AP News photo)

On the Cal Bears podcast with Morris:

#1 Morris, the Cal Bears scored twice on the UNLV Running Rebels 14-0 at Cal Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on Saturday doing most of the damage in the first quarter.

#2 Talk about running back Jaydn Ott’s touchdowns scoring one on the ground and one from a pass know what he can do what impact will he have on the Cal offense.

#3 Morris, talk about the Cal defense with three fourth quarter stops that didn’t allow UNLV to score in second half.

#4 Talk about Jack Plummer’s afternoon throwing 278 yards going 28-39, one touchdown and one interception.

#5 Cal heads to Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish who have lost two of their first two games and will be battling Cal who is 2-0. Can Plummer handle the Notre Dame pass rush and how do you see the Cal offensive game for this one next Saturday.

Join Morris for the Cal Bears podcasts Mondays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Downright Rebellious: UNLV’s late rally falls short, Cal moves to 2-0 with 20-14 win

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–California is looking forward after they hung on to defeat UNLV 20-14.

The Rebels and coach Marcus Arroyo are looking back, trying to understand how the numerous, second half opportunities they were afforded didn’t culminate with a touchdown that would have given them a late lead.

“We’ve got a locker room full of guys right now that are disappointed we didn’t finish that game,” Arroyo said. “You’ve got to capitalize against quality opponents.”

The Bears led 14-0 and 20-7, and at one point during the third quarter also held a sizeable advantage in time of possession, but from an offensive standpoint, they couldn’t finish off UNLV. Empty trips into the red zone and a damaging, early, second quarter interception kept the Rebels in it.

In the end, Cal’s defense pulled through when Henry Ikahihifo sacked UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield for a loss of 13 yards with 1:03 remaining. Two plays later, Isaiah Young picked off Brumfield’s desperation, downfield pass.

While the Bears’ offense went from spirited to sputtering, their defense contained Brumfield, who threw for just 206 yards, while misfiring 15 times, and running for just 12 yards on ten attempts. Ricky White, the Rebels’ top receiver caught just one pass after the first quarter and totaled 56 yards on four catches.

Cal’s blitzing, which intensified on the final UNLV drive, not only led to the key interception, but also showed in the visitor’s penalty numbers, which saw them commit eight infractions for 101 yards.

“No. 1, is to win the game. It carries more weight than any other goal,” Wilcox said. “We also recognize where we need to get better.”

In that category, kicker Dario Longhetto converted field goals in the second and third quarters, but his miss from 43 yards with 8:06 remaining kept the game within one score.

Plummer finished 28 of 39 for 278 yards, but only two of his completions went for more than 10 yards. The first of those two saw freshman running back Jaydn Ott go 12 yards on a swing pass and leap into the end zone for a 14-0 Cal lead.

“He missed a couple, but he threw some very good balls,” Wilcox said of Plummer. “We’ve got to do things to protect him, to keep that pass rush at bay.”

The 2-0 Bears travel to South Bend, Indiana next weekend to face Notre Dame, who inexplicably lost to Marshall 26-21, their first ever loss to a team from the Sun Belt Conference. The Bears’ undefeated start will create confidence as will a match up against signal caller Ty Buchner, who has yet to throw a touchdown pass in two games, and was picked off twice by the Thundering Herd.

“They’re still a really good team,” said sixth-year defensive back Daniel Scott cautiously.

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: Cal goes up against UNLV; Feels momentum after opening day win against UC Davis

Cal Bears quarterback Jack Plummer gets ready to throw the football, Plummer hit three receivers on the day for three touchdown passes against the UC Davis Aggies at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on Sat Sep 3, 2022 (AP News photo)

On the Cal Bears podcast with Morris:

#1 Morris after the UC Davis Aggies scored the first touchdown of the game it didn’t take long for the Cal Bears to answer back in the second quarter to take a ten point lead 17-7 for a half time score.

#2 The Bears Jack Plummer threw for three touchdowns it was Plummer’s first game under center for Cal and he pretty much had the rule of the roost with the football taking Cal to a 34-13 win.

#3 Cal in that first quarter just regrouped going into that second quarter minus one. The Bears are now 11-0 against the Aggies all time.

#4 Morris, talk about the receivers that Plummer got to throw to three yards to Jeremiah Hunter, eight yards to Jadyn Ott, and 14 yards to Mavin Anderson.

#5 Talk about how much confidence Cal will have going into week 2 facing UNLV with the home field advantage next Sat Sep 17th at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

Morris Phillips does the Cal Bears podcasts each Monday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal upends UC Davis 34-13; Golden Bears master Aggies on both sides of the ball

Cal Bears starting quarterback Jack Plummer fires a pass past the UC Aggies defense at Memorial Stadium in first half action on Sat Sep 3, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Morris Phillips and Michael Duca

BERKELEY–Quarterback Jack Plummer found receivers three times for touchdowns which led the Cal Bears (1-0) to a convincing 34-13 win over the visiting UC Davis Aggies at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on Saturday afternoon on the opening day of the college football season for Cal.

Plummer threw for 268 yards, three touchdowns and 268 yards. The Bears got behind the eight ball early in the first quarter when the Aggies scored a first quarter touchdown for a 7-0 lead. The Bears came back to take a ten point lead at the half making it 17-7.

Bears head coach Justin Wilcox said the team was a little nervous getting out of the gate on opening day like this but Wilcox said that the team talked things over and they got whatever was wrong out of their system by having that explosive 17 point second quarter.

Plummer from then on was hitting his wide outs starting with Jeremiah Hunter for a three yard touchdown, an eight yard pass to Jaydn Ott in second quarter action and in fourth quarter action Plummer found Marvin Anderson for a 14 yard touchdown.

Plummer as it turned out had a great offensive day 23 for 35 for 268 yards, Plummer said that the team got into a bit of a rhythm and realized once they found that opening on offense they were confident about putting the Aggies on their heels.

Craig Woodson for Cal picked off Aggies quarterback Miles Hastings pass for a return touchdown during the opening drive for 39 yards in second half action for a 24-7 lead and the Golden Bears were in the drivers seat pretty much most of the way.

Aggies head coach Dan Hawkins said while the team was not perfect it was playing excellent football saying the team battled hard for much of the game and that the Aggies had a good practice camp coming into the season and that it’s tough road on the opening of the season. Hawkins said to flush this game and move on.

The Bears host UNLV next Sat Sep 18 for a 1:00pm PDT kick off at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

Morris Phillips and Michael Duca cover Cal Bears football at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal Bears/Pac 12 Tournament podcast with Morris Phillips: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas; Cal eliminated by WSU in first game of tournament

California’s Lars Thiemann (21) tries to get around the Washington State Cougars defense at the T Mobile Center in Las Vegas in the first game of the Pac 12 Tournament on Wed Mar 9, 2022 (AP News photo)

On the Cal Bears/Pac 12 Tournament podcast with Morris:

#1 It’s been a long season Morris and its come down to this a first game loss of the Pac 12 Tournament to the Washington State Cougars (19-13) for the Cal Bears (12-20) a seven point 66-59 loss for the Bears.

#2 We know you’ve said it all season with this loss did it just come down to a lack of talent or the Cougars just had enough offense to make this work on Wednesday night.

#3 How disappointing does this have to be for Cal head coach Mark Fox having finished the season eight games below .500 and being eliminated in the first game of the Pac 12 Tournament.

#4 Once again the ball was going to Jordan Shepherd who led Cal with 19 points Cal also outscored the Cougars in the second half 39-34 but time just ran out for the Bears.

#5 For coach Fox talk about some of the things that he needs to work on, put together to get this team ready for 2022-23 and who do you see coming back for next season?

Morris Phillips filled in for Michael Duca who did the Cal Bears basketball podcasts Fridays during the 2021-22 season with Morris at http://www.sportsradioservice.com