October 11, 2006

Cal Mid-Season Report

Half-way through the 2006 regular season, the Cal Bears are ranked 10th in the AP and 11th by the Coaches poll. With a record of 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Pac-10, Cal is on pace to challenge for a bid to its first-ever BCS game.

Bear Territory will now take a look back at the first half of the 2006 football season.

THE FIRST HALF

The High Point

The 45-24 thrashing of Oregon. It truly was a magical day at Memorial, as many observers said it was the loudest they had ever heard the stadium. The Ducks were ranked 11th in the polls and, with the dominating win, the Bears made a statement to the nation that they are a much different team than the one that started the season.

The Low Point

No surprise here as the 35-18 loss at Tennessee was the low point of the season thus far. If there was a single play in that game that came to symbolize the lousy Bear effort, it would be when Volunteer back Montario Hardesty did his best Tommy Frazier impression, breaking the tackles of several Cal defenders on his way to the end zone.

Player of the Mid-Season

This is a tough one, but Bear Territory will go with wide receiver DeSean Jackson for this honor. He has caught a touchdown pass in every game and his electrifying punt returns have added a new dimension to the Cal attack. What's more, he has a confident swagger that pumps up his teammates and the crowd and he backs it up--as his 29 catches for 522 yards and 10 total touchdowns attest. He is a unique weapon in the Pac-10 and this writer thinks he could be the difference between a trip to San Diego or a trip to Pasadena.

Most Improved Player

Without a doubt, it's sophomore quarterback Nate Longshore. After a horrendous start at Tennessee, where he was just 11-of-20 for 85 yards and no touchdowns, he has been unstoppable. In the last five games, he has thrown for 1,325 yards, 17 TDs and just 4 interceptions. He leads the Pac-10 and is ninth nationally in passing efficiency with a 169.8 rating. What's scary is that he should get even better as the year goes on.

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