Stanford and Cal battle for the Axe on Saturday

Photo credit: californiagoldenblogs.com

By Ana Kieu

The Stanford Cardinal and Cal Golden Bears meet for the 122nd time on Saturday, with the Cardinal leading the all-time series 64-46-11. Stanford has won nine straight in the series, the longest winning streak in series history.

The Big Game is the sixth-most played college football rivalry game. Cal is Stanford’s most common opponent (next is USC with 99 all-time meetings). Stanford’s 64 victories over Cal are its most against any opponent.

Under head coach David Shaw, Stanford is 22-6 against Cal, UCLA and USC. In the six seasons before Shaw, the Cardinal was 7-11 against those three teams. Overall, Stanford is 28-7 against in-state opponents under Shaw.

A total of 20 true freshmen have made their first career appearances so far this season: Bradley Archer, Branson Bragg, Aeneas DiCosmo, Stephen Herron, Elijah Higgins, Jake Hornibrook, Austin Jones, Brock Jones, Spencer Jorgensen, Kyu Blu Kelly, Zahran Manley, Jonathan McGill, Barrett Miller, Drake Nugent, Joshua Pakola, Nathaniel Peat, Walter Rouse, Ryan Sanborn, Tristan Sinclair and Nicolas Toomer. Eighteen true freshmen played in Saturday’s game at Washington State.

A total of 17 Cardinal have made their first career starts so far: Ryan Beecher, Branson Bragg, Henry Hattis, Stuart Head, Houston Heimuli, Jake Hornibrook, Kyu Blu Kelly, Jonathan McGill, Barrett Miller, Davis Mills, J.J. Parson, Andrew Pryts, Curtis Robinson, Walter Rouse, Foster Sarell, Osiris St. Brown and Jack West. Thirty-seven different Cardinal have started at least one game for Stanford this season.

Junior quarterback Davis Mills set the school record for passing on Saturday with 504 yards. He was 33-of-50, both career highs, while his three touchdowns tied a career high. He became the first Cardinal QB since Andrew Luck in 2009 to have a 400-yard passing game, breaking Todd Husak’s 21-year record in the process (450 vs. Oregon State on Oct. 10, 1998).

Junior tight end Colby Parkinson was named a John Mackey Award semifinalist on Monday, one of eight up for the nation’s top tight end award. Parkinson has 41 catches for 392 yards and a touchdown on the season, while also throwing for a touchdown against Oregon State.

Both Connor Wedington and Michael Wilson went over 100 yards receiving in Saturday’s game at Washington State. It marked the first time in each of their careers they had surpassed the century mark. Wedington led the team with eight catches for 119 yards and now has a catch in all 27 career games. Wilson had five receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Cal defensive backs find success, but not quite satisfied yet

Photo credit: calbears.com

By Ana Kieu

The hype surrounding the Cal Golden Bears’ defensive backs in 2019 is real.

With the entire unit returning from a stellar season last fall, the group entered 2019 ranked among the top 10 nationally by nearly every media outlet, and as high as No. 2 in one ranking behind only Alabama.

Perhaps the coolest part of the attention was that the emphasis and accolades were bestowed upon the group more than any single individual.

“It’s not one person,” Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said. “It’s the way they play together, the way they meet, the extra work they do. The thing that’s special is the collective group. It’s the connection of the players in that room — their humility and their work ethic combined with the talent. Sometimes you have some of that without the other, but what is different is to have that many guys with that humility, that work ethic and that talent.”

The core returnees to Cal’s defensive backfield made all but two of the team’s possible starts in 2018, and they combine for nearly a quarter century of collegiate football experience. The group features a trio of fifth-year seniors (Ashtyn Davis, Jaylinn Hawkins and Trey Turner III), three fourth-year players (senior nickelbacks Traveon Beck and Josh Drayden, and junior cornerback Camryn Bynum), and the “baby” of the family in third-year junior cornerback Elijah Hicks.

They were all still pups in January 2017 when Wilcox was hired after the Bears had arguably posted some of the worst defensive seasons in the history of college football in the years leading up to his arrival. Wilcox put his trust in a then-mostly unproven assistant coach in Gerald Alexander to nurture a young but talented group of defensive backs. Alexander had only two seasons of experience as a full-time member of a collegiate coaching staff when Wilcox brought him to Berkeley, but Wilcox had coached Alexander at Boise State before he went on to play in the NFL and believed in the young coach.

After two-plus seasons in Berkeley, it looks to be a genius hire that has yielded both results on the field and admiration from the players.

“I feel like he’s the best defensive backs coach in the nation,” Hawkins said. “He doesn’t just teach out of the playbook. He teaches you the game of football. He’s got what we call ‘above the neck.'”

Alexander admitted that he didn’t know what he had in his defensive backs when he arrived at Cal, but he certainly knew what he wanted.

“I had a vision of what I wanted this group to be,” Alexander said. “From the beginning, our goal has been to be the best, and we are going to work like hell until we are. I knew what my job was, and I knew what I wanted out of this group. I knew how I wanted this group to play. It’s my responsibility to get them to believe.”

That vision yielded dramatic improvement on defense in year one and the defensive backs were a big reason why the Bears cut 14.2 points off their per game allowed average from the previous season. Cal also improved in 14 of 15 primary defensive statistics by an average of nearly 40 spots by category.

But that was just the beginning.

“We thought we were good at the time,” Bynum said. “When we look back at it now, it’s like ‘what were we doing?'”

What they were doing was getting better and putting in the work to pull off what they did in 2018.

Despite their hefty statistics last season, they’re far from satisfied.

“We haven’t accomplished our goals,” Hicks said. “We haven’t won a bowl game. We haven’t won a Pac-12 Championship. We’re going to have a chip on our shoulder because although we’ve done some good things, there is still a lot more to be done. That’s how we’re going about everything — in the film room, in the weight room and on the field.”

“We just want to win, that’s it,” Beck added. “We want to win in every aspect — every 1-on-1, every practice. That will translate to helping us win games. That’s really our ultimate goal.”

“We just need to be us,” Drayden chimed in. “We need to keep grinding away the way we are, keep studying the way we are, keep watching film the way we are. If you see somebody slacking, tell them let’s go because like (Alexander) says the most important part of the day is practice.”

Alexander recognizes the culture of sacrifice and accountability the group has created and applauds them for it.

“This group understands what sacrifice is,” Alexander said. “They sacrifice their time to be able to work and do the things necessary for them to have the success that they have. One of the things that we always talked about last year and now into this year was continuing to raise the bar. Nobody’s expectations for these guys should exceed their own.”

“Our hunger just to be good is one of the best things,” Bynum said. “We all want to outwork each other, which just breeds a bunch of competition and good energy around the whole group.”

Bynum believes the efforts of Cal’s current group of defensive backs will influence generations to come.

“They see how much work we put in and they have nothing else to expect out of our football program because that’s normal to them,” Bynum said.

Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is also excited about the possibilities ahead.

“I think they’re as a competitive of a position unit that I’ve ever been around,” said DeRuyter, who’s now in his 29th season in collegiate coaching. “They all push each other, and that competitive drive is challenging each of them to get better at their craft. It shows at practice and it shows in the games.

“What’s nice is having this same core group for the third season,” DeRuyter added. “The first year, it was just learning the fundamentals of the position. That next offseason after guys had demonstrated they understood the concepts, it was time to take the next step. That’s where we were a year ago — our guys could disguise and really understand what was happening around them. This year, we can play at an even faster speed and have more guys involved.”

Cal’s current defensive backfield has combined for 27 career interceptions with the most recent, thanks to Davis at Oregon last Saturday. The Bears hope their continued evolution and development will help them make history.

“Legacies are made when you leave places better than you found them,” Alexander said. “When we’re looking at the end of it and they can wipe their hands clean, hopefully this group is going to be forever remembered for the work they’ve put in and the foundation they’ve laid for this football program.”

NCAAF podcast with Michelle Richardson: Duke piles on Virginia Tech 45-10; Benjamin carries ASU to upset win; NCAA co-chair says Ohio State won’t pay in Cali if likeness law passes

photo from islandpacket.com: Duke quarterback Chris Katrenick (15) scores on a 9-yard touchdown run past Virginia Tech defender Alan Tisdale (34) and Jaylen Griffin (41) in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, in Blacksburg, Va.

On the NCAAF podcast with Michelle:

#1 The Duke Blue Devils totally dominated Virginia Tech all day on Friday. Duke quarterback Quentin Harris passed 20-27 for 163 yards and two touchdowns, Harris also carried for 100 yards and a touchdown in the 45-10 victory. The win puts Duke at 3-1.

#2 Arizona State improved their record to 4-1 with a win over the Cal Bears on Friday night. ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels threw for 174 yards, the Sun Devils running back Eno Benjamin literally carried the game for ASU scoring three touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards. ASU head coach Herm Edwards has really got this school moving forward. The Sun Devils have won four of their last five games.

#3 Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith who co-chairs on the NCAA group on the likeness, endorsement, and sponsorship money said that if the California bill goes into effect that will allow student athletes to get paid for playing and for likeness endorsements. Ohio State will not participate in any games against any California teams. Smith said those schools will not be NCAA members.

Michelle’s Final Thoughts

Join Michelle each week for NCAAF podcast and commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

John Ralston (1927-2019) once coached the SJSU Spartans

Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com

By Ana Kieu

John Ralston was one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most popular and beloved college and professional sports figures and passed away peacefully in Sunnyvale, Calif., on September 14, 2019.

Ralston’s impact on the Bay Area sports scene spanned 60 years from his days as a linebacker on the 1947 through 1950 University of California, Berkeley football teams playing for legendary coach Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf” into the 21st century as a special assistant to the athletics director at San Jose State University.

HIS FOOTBALL COACHING CAREER: Ralston was best known as a football coach with a positive approach to life that took Utah State University, Stanford University and the Denver Broncos to unprecedented success.

Ralston began his coaching career as an assistant football coach at San Lorenzo (Calif.) High in 1953 and spent two seasons at Mt. Diablo High before returning to Cal. He returned to the University of California in 1956 as an assistant football coach and was on the staff for the 1958 Golden Bears’ team that played in the 1959 Rose Bowl.

Ralston was the head coach at Utah State (1959-62), Stanford (1963-71), Denver Broncos (1972-76), Oakland Invaders (1983-84) and San Jose State (1993-96). Combining his college and pro head coaching records, his teams amassed a 140-126-7 win-loss record.

Ralston’s Utah State teams played in the 1960 Sun Bowl and 1961 Gotham Bowl and his Stanford squads won consecutive Pacific 8 Conference championships and Rose Bowls following the 1970 and 1971 regular seasons. The Broncos’ first winning season in franchise history was in 1973, his second as a NFL head coach.

Ralston’s coaching tree included former NFL head coaches the late Bill Walsh, Dick Vermeil, Jim Mora, Sr., Mike White, the late Rod Rust, the late Jack Christiansen and college head coaches the late Roger Theder, the late Tony Knap, Ed Peasley and Rubin Carter.

Ralston’s best-known players included 1970 Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett at Stanford and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Merlin Olsen at Utah State.

MORE THAN A FOOTBALL COACH: Ralston’s football experiences extended beyond coaching players and his assistants. He was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. He was a Philadelphia Eagles assistant coach to Vermeil in 1978. He was the vice president of the San Francisco 49ers during the 1979 and 1980 seasons. He was the president of the Portland Breakers in 1984 and 1985.

Ralston scouted for the Seattle Seahawks in 1988 and 1989 and served three years — 1990 through 1992 — as the coordinator for Operation Discovery, a search for foreign-born football players of the World League of American Football. His search took him to the Soviet Union and a short-lived position as head coach of the Moscow Bears, the U.S.S.R’s first pro football team.

Ralston, a one-time Dale Carnegie Courses instructor, also served as an administrator for Major League Volleyball, a pro women’s volleyball league, and the general manager of the Sacramento Capitols team tennis franchise.

Ralston, a Oakland, Calif. native, was born on April 26, 1927, and spent parts of his youth in Norway, Michigan. He graduated from the University of California in 1951.

A World War II veteran, Ralston served in the Marine Corps, achieving the rank of corporal. He was stationed mainly on the S.S. Little Rock in the South Pacific.

SOME HONORS & ACCOLADES: Ralston’s lengthy list of accolades includes induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1996, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, the San Jose Hall of Fame in 2001; and the Sports Halls of Fame for San Jose State, Stanford and Utah State.

As a coach, Ralston was named Stanford’s “Coach of the Century” when the university celebrated its centennial anniversary of football in 1991 and the 1973 United Press International’s American Football Conference “Coach of the Year” in his second season with the Broncos.

Ralston is survived by his daughter, Terry (Ralston) Zaffonato, four grandsons, two granddaughters, and one great granddaughter. He was predeceased by his wife of 46 years, Patty (Ward) Ralston; a son, Larry; a daughter, Sherry (Ralston) Brown, the twin sister of Terry; and Virginia Fanelli, his life partner following the passing of Patty.

A celebration of life for Ralston will be announced in the near future.

NCAA podcast with Daniel Dullum: Hoops shocker ASU tops No. 13 Kansas; USF continues to roll with win over Stanford; Minnesota women now 11-0; plus more

stlouisdispatch.com photo: Arizona State guard Rob Edwards (left) knocks the ball out of the hands of Kansas guard Quentin Grimes Saturday night at ASU

On the NCAA podcast with Daniel Dullum:

1 Men’s Hoops: No. 18 Arizona State stuns No. 1 Kansas

2 USF handles Stanford

3 Women’s Hoops: No. 13 Minnesota 11-0 under new coach Lindsay Whalen

4 No. 1 UConn holds off challenge from Cal

5 Congrats to Stanford on women’s volleyball national championship

Daniel Dullum is filling in for Michelle Richardson for the NCAA report heard each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Stanford heads to Cal for rescheduled Big Game on Saturday

Photo credit: gostanford.com

By: Ana Kieu

The Bay Area air quality levels had improved, so the smoke and haze shouldn’t be issues in rescheduled 121st Big Game between the Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears inside Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Here’s what you need to know about the Big Game.

By the Numbers
Stanford Cardinal (7-4, 5-3)
Cal Bears (7-4, 4-4)
Dec. 1, 2018 at Noon PT
Memorial Stadium (63,000) in Berkeley, Calif.

Television
Live national broadcast on Pac-12 Network with Roxy Bernstein (play-by-play), Yogi Roth (analyst) and Jill Savage (sideline).

Radio
Live coverage on Stanford’s flagship station–KNBR 1050 AM–with Scott Reiss ’93 (play-by-play), Todd Husak ’00 (analyst) and Troy Clardy ’97 (sideline). The broadcast begins one hour before kickoff with the Cardinal Tailgate Show and concludes with the postgame Cardinal Locker Room Report.

The game can be heard on Stanford student radio–KZSU 90.1 FM–and online at kzsulive.stanford.edu.

On the Web
GoStanford.comCalBears.com • #GoStanford

Other Stats to Keep in Mind
1 • Stanford is 7-0 this season when forcing at least one turnover, and 0-4 when not forcing a turnover.

2 • Sophomore tight end Colby Parkinson is second in the nation among tight ends with seven touchdown receptions.

3 • Stanford football players have conducted interviews in three foreign languages this season–JJ Arcega-Whiteside (Spanish), Jesse Burkett (Japanese) and Osiris St. Brown (German). All other Stanford football interviews this year have been done in English.

3 • Junior Kaden Smith is one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award, joining T.J. Hockenson (Iowa), Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri). The winner will be announced on Dec. 5.

3 • The Cardinal vie for a sweep of its in-state rivals UCLA, USC and Cal for the third time in four years. The Cardinal most recently swept all three in 2015 and 2016. Under Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw (2011-current), Stanford is 28-5 vs. in-state opponents, including 22-4 against USC, UCLA and Cal. This season, Stanford is 4-0 against Californian opposition.

4 • Stanford’s four losses this season have come against the AP’s curent No. 3, No. 10, No. 12 and No. 17th-ranked teams in the nation (Notre Dame, Washington, Washington State, Utah). Those four teams have a combined record of 40-8 (.833) this season.

5 • Costello’s five touchdown passes at UCLA on Nov. 24 were second-most in school history (Elway, 6 vs. OSU in 1980) and the most since Kevin Hogan had five in the 2013 Big Game.

8 • Stanford has won a series-record eight consecutive Big Games.

10 • Stanford has clinched its 10th straight bowl game appearance, extending the program record. The previous best streak was three–when the Cardinal went to three straight Rose Bowls from 1933-35. The 10 straight winning seasons is the longest streak since an 11-year run from 1968-78.

10 • Stanford clinched its 10th straight winning season in conference play, extending the school record. The previous best streak was seven straight years under Pop Warner in the Pacific Coast Conference from 1924-1930.

11 • Stanford has won a series-record 11 consecutive games over the Bruins, dating back to 2009 and including the 2012 Pac-12 Championship Game. It is the all-time longest winning streak by any opponent against the Bruins.

14 • Senior wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside tied a school record and ranks third nationally (first among Pac-12 players) — with 14 receiving touchdowns. That ties Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton’s school record set in 1977. He is four away from matching Mario Bailey’s Pac-12 record set in 1991.

16 • In addition to his 55 receptions and 860 receiving yards this season, Arcega-Whiteside has drawn 16 penalties this year—13 pass interference and three holding calls for 210 penalty yards (1.6 penalties/game and 21.0 penalty yards/game).

17 • Sophomore cornerback Paulson Adebo ranks second nationally with 17 pass breakups and fifth in the NCAA with 19 passes defended.

20 • Junior quarterback K.J. Costello ranks among the Top 20 nationally in completion percentage (16th), completions per game (14th), passing efficiency (13th), passing touchdowns (9th), passing yards (14th), passing yards per game (12th) and yards per attempt (14th). He leads the Pac-12 in efficiency (159.1) and is second in the conference in yards (3,198), touchdowns (28) and yards per attempt (8.71).

21 • Stanford’s seniors finished their careers 20-5 (.800) at Stanford Stadium. In the last four years, the Cardinal has won 37 games, three Big Games, two Pac-12 North titles, a conference championship, and has played in the Rose Bowl, Sun Bowl and Alamo Bowl.

28 • Only Andrew Luck has thrown more TD passes in a season at Stanford than Costello’s 28 in 2018. Luck set the record with 37 in 2011 and had 32 in 2010.

100 • Arcega-Whiteside is the first Stanford player with four 100-yard receiving games in a season since Luke Powell in 2001. His eight career 100-yard receiving games ranks third in school history.

121 • The 121st Big Game was rescheduled due to poor air quality caused by the devastating wildfires in Butte County (Dec. 1 is Stanford’s latest calendar kickoff for a regular season game since the 2007 Big Game was played on the same date). Cal is Stanford’s most common opponent (next is USC with 98 all-time meetings), while Stanford’s 63 wins over the Bears are also its most against any opponent.

300 • Costello is the third Cardinal with seven 300-yard passing games in a season, joining John Elway (1982) and Steve Stenstrom, who set the school record with nine in 1993. He is the first Cardinal with four consecutive 100-yard passing performances since Steve Stenstrom had five in a row in 1994.

1,000 • The last Cardinal to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season was Troy Walters in 1999. Arcega-Whiteside is just 140 yards away from that milestone.

3,201 • K.J. Costello’s 3,201 yards of total offense ranks fifth in school history. He needs 198 yards to move into third which would place him behind only Andrew Luck, who set the school record with 3,791 in 2010 and had 3,667 in 2011. In addition, Costello’s 3,198 passing yards this season are fifth-most in school history and is just 429 yards away from the school record set by Steve Stenstrom in 1993.

Cal Bears Friday game wrap: Cal wins opener against Hawaii in Australia

By: Eric He

AP photo: Cal Bears quarterback Webb Davis (7) looks for daylight in a pass attempt against the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Friday in Sydney Australia on Friday

The Cal Golden Bears got their 2016 season off on the right track with a 51-31 win over Hawaii in Sydney, Australia on Friday.

Senior quarterback David Webb was impressive in his first game, completing 38 of 54 passes for 441 yards. Chris Hansen was his top target, with the wide receiver catching 14 passes for 160 yards.

Hawaii opened the game with an onside kick, but Cal recovered and capitalized almost immediately, as Khalfani Muhammad scampered in for the first touchdown of the college football season on a 34-yard run.

The first quarter ended with Cal up by just three, but the Bears gained some separation before halftime. Webb and Hansen connected on a 34-yard touchdown pass at the 3:43 mark of the second quarter, and with time winding down in the half, Webb scored on a quarterback keeper from four yards out.

The Bears went into halftime with a 34-14 advantage, and the second half was more of the same as Sonny Dykes and Co. grabbed a crucial win to kick off a difficult schedule.

The last American football game to be played in Sydney Australia at Olympic Stadium was an NFL pre season game in 1999 in front of 73,000.

Cal will now head back to the States and will play San Diego State on Sept. 10 on the road.