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

Ott’s 3 TD’s, decisive third quarter lead Cal past Arizona, 49-31 in the Pac-12 opener

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–The 624 yards of offense amassed by Arizona and Cal before halftime on Saturday turned out to be an appetizer.

Jadyn Ott, with his 274 yards rushing and three touchdowns, was the fully satisfying buffet spread across the breadth of the afternoon in the Bears’ 49-31 homecoming win in their Pac-12 opener.

Ott, the freshman who didn’t impact Cal’s narrow loss to Notre Dame, announced himself with a 73-yard score on Cal’s second offensive play. In the third quarter, he was powerful and elusive on an 18-yard run and score. Then in the fourth quarter with Cal looking to finish off the Wildcats, Ott again turned on the speed in a 72-yard touchdown jaunt.

Ott’s 274-yards rushing stands as the most by an FBS player this season, and the third most in Cal history, trailing Jahvid Best (311 yards, 2009) and Jerry Drew (283, 1954).

“We’ve been talking about it for a long time. You’ve seen it in flashes. We saw it a bunch today. He’s a dynamic guy and has the ability to take it to the house from a lot of spots,” coach Justin Wilcox said.

“Every time I touch the ball, I feel like I’m going to score,” Ott said. “That’s my mentality.”

Despite Ott’s breakaway run early, Cal was on its collective heels at the half, trailing 24-21 and unable to stop UA’s Jayden de Laura, who would finish with 401 yards passing.

Wilcox’s trademark halftime adjustments normally consist of cleaning up defensive assignments. But in a game that belonged to playmakers on both sides, Cal leaned heavily on its running game and a rotating cast of offensive linemen as much as benefitting from a turnover in a third quarter that turned the game around.

After forcing a punt on Arizona’s initial drive of the third quarter, Cal regained the lead with an eight-play 87-yard drive capped off by Keleki Latu’s 3-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-one. Quarterback Jack Plummer leaned on his tight ends on the drive with Latu’s two catches and two big gainers from Elijah Mojarro.

An Arizona three-and-out was followed by Cal’s five-play drive that put them up 35-24. Ott finished the drive with a run that saw him slowed by three Wildcat defenders before breaking free to score from 18 yards out.

With the third quarter drawing to a close, linebacker Orin Patu broke free and dislodged the football from a scrambling de Laura, and Miles Jernigan pounced on it to set up Cal at their 32-yard line.

Six plays later, Plummer connected with Jeremiah Hunter for a 37-yard pass and score and Cal had an insurmountable 42-24 lead with 14:53 remaining.

“We couldn’t stop the run and when you can’t stop the run, you run into the issues of you have to try to press,” coach Jedd Fisch said. “I think we started to press there at the end and started turning the ball over in the fourth quarter. That’s what cost us.”

Led by Ott, Cal totaled 354 yards on the ground, the biggest chunk of their 599 yards in total offense. That along with a 3-0 advantage in turnovers allowed the Bears to turn the tide, an overcome Arizona’s 536 yards in offense.

“In the first half, we didn’t tackle well, we didn’t rush, we didn’t cover anybody. It was bad,” Wilcox said.

Numerous players saw their first significant time on the field as Cal Bears, and they made the most of it. Sioape Vitikani, a 335-pound freshman came up with seal block that sprung Ott for his first touchdown run. T.J. Sessions, a Montana State transfer helped break Ott free on his third quarter score.

For Arizona, freshman Tetairoa McMillan came up with an outstanding catch in the end zone despite Cal’s Isaiah Young being in position to make a play. Sophomore Dorian Singer came up with a one-handed catch along the sideline in what was otherwise a rough, fourth quarter for Arizona.

The Bears travel to Pullman, WA next Saturday to face Washington State. The Cougars took a 27-15 lead into the fourth quarter over Oregon on Saturday only to see the No.15 Ducks rally to win 44-41, and saddle the Cougars with their first loss after a 3-0 start.

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.

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

Short Stay In Vegas: Cal can’t keep up with Washington State in 66-59 Pac-12 Tourney loss

By Morris Phillips

Several of the elements Cal needed to extend their stay in Las Vegas were present on Wednesday. The key ingredient–made baskets–was completely absent.

The Bears shot a dreadful 31 percent from the floor, missing 16 3-point attempts, in a 66-59 first round loss to Washington State at the Pac-12 Tournament.

“Offensively we seemed to be out of rhythm and didn’t shoot it well in the first half and so we dug ourselves too big of a hole, eventhough in the second half we played a little bit better,” coach Mark Fox said.

Down the stretch Cal stayed within reach, and cut their deficit to six with 23 seconds remaining, but the Cougars–near perfect from the foul line–held them off.

Efe Abogidi led WSU with 19 points, five rebounds and Tyrell Roberts added 14 as the Cougs advanced to a quarterfinal meeting with UCLA on Thursday.

The Bears (12-20) finished their season with losses in five of their last six contests, and took their 20th loss in the finale. They also saw the college careers of Grant Anticevich and Jordan Shepherd, two of their key contributors, come to a close.

The first half contained enough Cal errors to create the hole Fox eluded to as the visitors shot a chilly 23 percent while allowing the Cougars to expand their lead in the last two minutes. Joel Brown attempted to give the Bears a defensive leader, but he only lasted nine minutes before it became apparent that he should not play any further with his knee that foced him to miss the regular season finale an issue.

Meanwhile, Abogidi with his lengthy arms and quickness seemed to slither around Lars Thiemann for a memorable layup, and leading scorer Michael Flowers put Jalen Celestine on skates with some playground moves.

But WSU wouldn’t pull away as Cal’s edge in rebounding, as well as their deliberate pace kept the high-scoring Cougs from gaining any offensive consistency. With 7:35 remaining Celestine’s layup kept the Bears within range, down 49-41.

“They bothered us with their physicality and they got on the glass, but our zone defense was pretty good and we hit our free throws,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said.

Facing WSU’s zone look, the Bears couldn’t find their offense or get any closer. Anticevich (2 for 12) and Shepherd (6 for 17) finished with subpar numbers and no one else stepped up. Defensively, Abogidi’s quickness put Cal in a predicament as Theimann wasn’t quick enough to defend the 6’8″ forward which necessitated Fox to commit Anticevich to cover him. That ultimately kept the Cal senior from having an impactful evening with his scoring.

The Bears will have a new look in the upcoming season without Shepherd and Anticevich, and with the return of the injured Andre Kelly in question as well. Fox has vowed to extract an offensive leader from the graduate transfer market to lead the Bears in 2022-23.

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: Cal no match for No.2 Arizona in 89-61 loss; Cal moves onto Pac 12 Tournament Wednesday

Cal Bears Jordan Shepherd led Cal in scoring last Saturday against the Arizona Wildcats with 16 points. Cal will be dependent on Shepherd’s offense as the Bears face the Washington State Cougars Wed Mar 9, 2022 at the Pac 12 Tournament. ( file photo by Sports Illustrated)

On the Cal podcast with Morris:

#1 Anytime you know your going to face the Arizona Wildcats (28-3) you know you have your work cut out for you such was the case in Saturday’s 89-61drilling of the basket by the Wildcats who threw up 62% of their shots from the floor against the Cal Bears (12-19).

#2 The Wildcats didn’t show any ware at all after playing five games in ten days in an almost NBA type schedule the Wildcats have won nine of their last ten games.

#3 But what may have been most impressive was the Cats put up 89 points despite having to deal with Cal’s plodding pace, and a couple of impressive, but short-lived stretches of play by the Bears.

#4 Oumar Ballo, the transfer from No. 1 Gonzaga, led the Cats with 16 points on 7 for 7 shooting from the floor. Ballo was the biggest piece of Arizona’s octet of reserves that combined to shoot 18 of 24 from the floor and 7 for 7 from the foul line.

#5 Next up for Cal the Washington State Cougars (18-13) to open the Pac 12 Tournament who have won five of their last six games and also defeated the Oregon Ducks (18-13) by 20, 94-74 at Washington State on Saturday. This will be game one for Cal at the Pac 12 Tournament on Wednesday.

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

Piling Up The Points: Pac-12 champion Arizona looks NCAA Tournament-ready in 89-61 pasting of Cal

By Morris Phillips

Are the Arizona Wildcats the favorite to cut down the nets and win their second National Championship?

If the Cal Bears wanted to be the voice of dissent regarding UA’s chances, they unearthed very little evidence on Saturday afternoon.

No. 2 Arizona (28-3, 18-2) looked the part, shooting a sizzling 62 percent from the floor in dispatching Cal, 89-61 at the McKale Center in Tucson. It didn’t matter that Arizona was playing its fifth game in 10 days, or that they had little to play for after clinching the Pac-12 regular season title on Tuesday at USC.

But what may have most impressive was the Cats put up 89 points despite having to deal with Cal’s plodding pace, and a couple of impressive, but short-lived stretches of play by the Bears.

How’s that possible? Make shots, and Arizona did that in bunches.

Oumar Ballo, the transfer from No. 1 Gonzaga, led the Cats with 16 points on 7 for 7 shooting from the floor. Ballo was the biggest piece of Arizona’s octet of reserves that combined to shoot 18 of 24 from the floor and 7 for 7 from the foul line.

Those bench contributions were the biggest indicator of the hosts’ ability to impose their will. The team picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 before the season literarily outplayed expectations down to their 13th man. Coach Tommy Lloyd, who denied any celebrations prior to Saturday’s final buzzer couldn’t hold back his praise.

“These dudes are unbelievable,” Lloyd said. “What they gave me this year has inspired me to coach forever. They practice their ass off every day and they handle me being on them. It’s such a special group to be around.”

Cal was competitive for the game’s first six minutes, then a 9-0 run for Arizona gave evidence that the visitors were in for a rough ride. The Cats extended their lead to 36-17 on Christian Koloko’s layup with 4:21 remaining at which point the Bears settled in with a 14-4 run to end the half that had them within range, down 40-31 at the half.

But the second half saw Arizona shoot 65 percent and their crowd grow more jubilant with each made basket. Despite their starters playing sparingly UA led by 31 before winning by 28.

“We got a little fatigued and made some costly errors there in the second half defensively,” coach Mark Fox said. “Against a team with as much talent as they have, you cannot afford to do that.”

Jordan Shepherd led Cal (12-19, 5-15) with 16 points. Lars Thiemann had 12 points, five rebounds and Makale Foreman added 11. Thiemann was able to go despite being a gametime decision due to an injury, but starting guard Joel Brown was scratched due to a knee injury.

Cal opens the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday with their opponent to be determined after action concludes on Saturday night, with the Washington Huskies as the most likely opponent in a 7 versus 10 matchup.

Stanford Cardinal podcast with Daniel Dullum: Stanford good first half, lose second half to Arizona 81-69 in Tucson

Stanford forward Spencer Jones (14) drives on Arizona guard Pelle Larsson at the McKale Memorial Center in Tucson on Thu Mar 3, 2022 (AP News photo)

On the Stanford podcast with Daniel:

1 Despite a gallant effort, Stanford bounced back from a horrendous game against Cal and played at least one good half against Arizona.

2 What was working for the Cardinal in the first half, and where did it go south in the second half?

3 How are Stanford’s chances to pick up a win on Saturday against Arizona State to end the regular season on a positive note?

4 What do Stanford’s chances for postseason men’s basketball look like?

5 Meanwhile, Teri Vanderveer just received Pac-12 women’s basketball coach of the year for the 17th time, as the Cardinal women are primed for an extended tournament run.

Catch Daniel for the Stanford podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com