Notes on Cal football, heading into the Bears’ home game against Arizona State on Saturday:
— Cal is 3-0 at home this season and has won those three games by a combined margin of 139-17. The Bears are 0-3 on the road this season and have lost those three games by a combined margin of 110-54. The Bears have won their last four home games dating back to last season, and have lost their past five games away from Memorial Stadium.
— The Bears have won four in a row against Arizona State and six of the past seven. Cal has not lost to Arizona State at home since 1997.
— The Bears’ 3-3 record matches Cal’s 2003 season for the Bears’ worst record through six games since Jeff Tedford arrived as coach prior to the 2002 season. Cal began the 2003 season 3-5, but won four of its final five regular-season games to wind up 7-6, then won a bowl game to finish 8-6. That was Aaron Rodgers’ first season as a starter, although he did not make his first start until the fifth game. Rodgers was 7-3 as the team’s starting quarterback that season.
— Arizona State QB Steve Threet has thrown 11 interceptions, the most the in the Pac-10. No one else has thrown more than seven.
JEFF TEDFORD QUOTE: “You are little bit concerned about a loss like that where it snowballed like it did in the first half (of a 48-14 loss to USC), and you want to make sure the mindset of the team is solid. We can’t let that game affect how we play this week.”
STATE OF THE CAL OFFENSE: Cal’s running game has been productive most of the season, particularly at home, although it did little against USC on Oct. 16. But its passing game has been shaky the past four games. TB Shane Vereen continues to be the Bears’ chief offensive threat, despite being limited to 54 rushing yards against USC. QB Kevin Riley had his fourth straight mediocre game against USC, and his past two games have been particularly troubling. His numbers did not look so bad in those two games, but the Bears relied on their running game against UCLA, and Riley padded his numbers in the second half against USC when the game was already out of reach. Riley threw two costly interceptions against the Trojans in the first half. He has struggled when harried, and the offensive line has not given Riley a lot of time. Much of the offensive problems against USC revolved around the offensive line, which could neither open holes not protect the passé adequately.
STATE OF THE CAL DEFENSE: Cal’s defense has been intermittently great and poor. It was dominant in four of the games, yielding no more than 10 points in those games while making no major mistakes. However, it yielded 100 points in the other two, and it could have been worse if USC had kept its starters in the game in the 48-14 game on Oct. 16. The 52 points yielded against Nevada was dismissed as an aberration because of the Wolf Pack’s outstanding option game until the Trojans dominated the Cal defense with their more traditional offense, primarily through the air. The Bears’ pass defense is still good statistically, and its secondary is playing better than it did a year ago, but opponents may be catching on to the blitzing schemes employed by new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. The Bears have a chance for an interception against Arizona State’s Steven Threet, who has thrown 11 picks.
— TB Shane Vereen is ninth in the nation in scoring, averaging 11.0 points per game. He has caught at least one pass in all 32 games in which he has played at Cal.
— QB Kevin Riley needs 36 yards of total offense to pass Dave Barr for the No. 6 spot on Cal’s career list for total offense.
–LB Keith Browner sustained a leg injury that forced him out of the game against USC. He is questionable for the game against Arizona State.
— FB Eric Stevens did not play against USC after undergoing surgery to repair a broken finger three days earlier. He is expected to be available to play against Arizona State, but it is uncertain whether he will start.