Can't Bear to watch

Big plays for Cal this time

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge is hit in the back by Cal linebacker Zack Follett during Saturday's game in Berkeley, Calif. The fumble was recovered by Cal's Worrell Williams for a 44-yard touchdown

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge is hit in the back by Cal linebacker Zack Follett during Saturday's game in Berkeley, Calif. The fumble was recovered by Cal's Worrell Williams for a 44-yard touchdown

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge is hit in the back by Cal linebacker Zack Follett during Saturday's game in Berkeley, Calif. The fumble was recovered by Cal's Worrell Williams for a 44-yard touchdown

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess // Buy this photo

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge is hit in the back by Cal linebacker Zack Follett during Saturday's game in Berkeley, Calif. The fumble was recovered by Cal's Worrell Williams for a 44-yard touchdown

BERKELEY, Calif. - The big plays changed uniforms. So did the winners.

A year ago in Neyland Stadium, Tennessee used an arsenal of big plays to put a season-opening whipping on the California Golden Bears.

Saturday night on the other side of the Continental Divide, it was 12th-ranked Cal ripping off a couple of early big plays and making them stand up for a season-opening 45-31 victory over the 15th-ranked Vols.

A crowd of 72,516 had barely settled into Cal Memorial Stadium before Worrell Williams returned an Erik Ainge fumble 44 yards for a tone-setting touchdown.

Early in the second quarter, DeSean Jackson lived up to his preseason All-America hype by returning a punt 77 for another score.

Considering the way Cals offense was carving up Tennessee’s defensive unit, the big plays were too much to overcome.

It was the most points UT had allowed since a 62-37 loss at Florida in 1995.

“We gave ‘em, or they earned, 14 points,’’ said UT coach Phillip Fulmer, who was hoping for a happy 57th birthday present but didn’t get it.

“And then we didn’t tackle well. On a number of occasions we looked bad trying to tackle them.

“And with all that said, at 38-31 early in the fourth quarter, we had a chance to win the ballgame and didn’t get it done.’’

The Vols got a rushing touchdown from Montario Hardesty. Ainge completed two short scoring passes to tight end Chris Brown and another to Arian Foster.

UT’s big gainers were limited to a 42-yard run by Foster, a 68-yard kickoff return by Foster and a 43-yard Ainge pass to Lucas Taylor.

The Bears broke away from a 21-21 tie by scoring the final 10 points of the first half and the first seven of the second.

Cal led 38-21 on Nate Longshore’s 3-yard TD pass to Lavelle Hawkins on the first series of the third quarter.

Ainge’s 5-yard TD pass to Brown cut the deficit to 38-28 with 3:57 left in the third quarter.

Still, the Vols had to rue the fact that on their previous possession Foster’s 42-yard run the Cal 3 was squandered.

Three attempts advanced only to the 1. On fourth-and-goal, Ainge’s pass to a well-covered Foster was broken up.

Daniel Lincoln’s 41-yard field narrowed the margin to 38-31 with 14:17 left to play, but the Bears came roaring back to dominate the rest of the way.

Justin Forsett’s 13-yard scoring made it 45-31

“It was a big win,’’ said Cal coach Jeff Tedford, “no question about it.

“We’ve been carrying this with us for a year.’’

The season started like a track meet.

Five of the first six possessions – and seven of the first 10 – ended in touchdowns.

All four of Tennessee’s first four possessions, in fact, resulted in touchdowns – two for the Vols and two for the Bears.

Tennessee gave an immediate indication of how the new kickoff-from-the-30 rule will affect strategy. The Vols won the kickoff and elected to receive.

On the fourth play of the game, Ainge was hit in the back by Cal linebacker Zack Follett while attempting to pass.

The ball squirted virtually straight up in the air, hit the ground and another Cal linebacker, Williams, alertly scooped it up and raced 44 yards to the end zone.

Officials reviewed the play and ruled it a fumble rather than an incomplete pass.

Cal led 7-0.

The Vols answered with Foster taking an Ainge pass 12 yards and sidestepping three defenders for the touchdown.

It didn’t stay tied long. The Bears started at their 46 after the kickoff and motored 54 yards. Longshore scored on a third-and-2 sneak to make it 14-7.

Again, Tennessee answered quickly. Foster’s 68-yard kickoff return to the Cal 24 provided a short field.

Hardesty’s 1-yard dive made it 14-14 with 3:03 left in the first quarter.

Finally, an old-fashioned exchange of punts transpired.

Cal’s was uneventful. Tennessee’s was a disaster.

The Vols had it third-and-1 at their 37 but disdained the run for a flare pass to Foster. The Bears were waiting and snuffed it. Out came Britton Colquitt.

Colquitt directed his kick toward the sideline to hem in Jackson. It didn’t work.

Jackson juked a defender, cut back across the field, found a gap and raced 77 yards to the end zone for a 21-14 Cal lead.

“We tried to punt the ball out of bounds and didn’t get it all the way over there,’’ said Fulmer.

“The guy is electrifying, as we saw. We knew that going in.’’

Tennessee got even again, however.

A 43-yard Ainge pass to Taylor set up the score, a 2-yard pass to Brown.

Cal jumped back in front, 28-21, on a 4-yard pass from Longshore to Robert Jordan, then the Bears added a 27-yard field goal from Jordan Kay after a 13-yard Colquitt punt and a 49-yard pass-and-run from Longshore to Forsett.

The Vols wouldn’t catch up again.

“We played a good football team,’’ said Fulmer. “They were in the top 10 (offensively) in every category last year.

“They lost a tailback (Marshawn Lynch) and replaced him with one just as good (Forsett).

“We play in a league with a lot of speed, but they definitely made us look not very good sometimes.’’

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 155

Calbears40 writes:

It was a great series. I am glad my team showed up today to show the country that they do play football on the west coast too and to show the sec there is speed on our team as well. Tennessee played with heart and kept coming back. Good luck on your season and thanks for being a gracious host to me on your website. I will visit your website again.

denverhess01#226687 writes:

The O played pretty darn good, but you can't expect to give up 31 points on defense and still win. The Defense better regroup before next week.

Phowell23 writes:

That CAL Offense was fairly impressive. Looks like you guys are going to do very well this year. Not to take anything from the CAL team but our defense did not seem ready to play. CAL was getting yards in 20 yard chunks all night.

It was great to watch Ainge call plays at the line. He was fun to watch although it seemed like we abandoned the run a little too early in the 2nd half.

CoverOrange writes:

Calbear40, you indeed have been a model visitor. Hope some regulars on this site learn something from your standard of conduct. You not only had speed on your side, you had players that knew how to use it. Please, please, beat the heck out of USC.

jandjhome#228397 writes:

We now know why practices as closed to the media,Fulmer did not want them to know the truth about the Great Chief's defense.Worst tackling I have ever seen by the Big Orange.

atlorange writes:

The defenses was absolutely abismal. I was not impressed with the offense. We still could run the ball with any consistency. The coaching staff is STILL in love with 5 and 6 yard swing passes. NOTE: We do not have the athletes to turn the 5 yard play into 80.

I really doubt we will have more than 7 wins this year. Who will be scategoat this year? We know they won't do anything to Fulmer except give him another extension. I am so sick of mediocrity. With putting the second most players in the NFL we should see better results on the field. Fulmer can recruit, but he is not and has nevery been a game day coach.

surfmaster writes:

Do we have anybody on the team who can kick the ball past the 20 yard line on kickoffs? I thought we were doing well to hold them to the 40 yard line on kickoff returns.

brokebackvol writes:

Good game and congrats to the Bears - they outplayed the Vols tonight, but the Vols were not as horrible as some people want to claim.

andy112382#209793 writes:

First of all, Calbears40, congrats, your team played a heckuva game. Punt return and fumble return were the difference guys. Cal has some awesome playmakers, we didn't play bad as much as Cal just played solid. Everything we messed up on is very fixable, go back, fix it and beat Florida and all will be forgiven! We certainly learned a lot more today about what we need to do to go win the rest of our games than we would opening with western kentucky! We will be fine, our WRs were solid and so was the running by Foster, and how about the kickoff returns??? Much better! I'll still take 11-1 any year! =) This has no effect on conference play, lets just Pray for Mitchell. Hey, remember, be glad you are not a Michigan fan - just goes to show you, could always be worse! haha. GO VOLS!!! Good game, two very talented teams, shame someone had to lose.

jedtrdvols writes:

I like coach cut but if we do not become more patient with our run game we are in for a 8 win season. There is no excuse for third and 1 throwing a flare pass or first and goal from the 2 and throwing twice!! We outweighed them an average of nearly 40 pounds with a 230+ pound back. For goodness sake run the ball!!!

andy112382#209793 writes:

By the way, I don't think it was our defense not being able to catch up to Cal as it was we overran like every other play. Go back and watch if you don't know what I am talking about, we had guys simply overshoot their targets, once again, something that can be fixed and this defense will grow with the season. GO VOLS!!!

jlange#632002 writes:

Kinda figured the secondary would have some problems, but the defensive line play was disappointing. Got to find DE's who can pressure from the edge.

jedtrdvols writes:

Mitchell you will be in our prayers.

jandjhome#228397 writes:

I believe you have had a double of orange kool-aid tonight Andy.

surfmaster writes:

I thought the announcers got it right when they said Cal finally figured out we can't throw the ball downfield more than 20 yards and started bringing the safeties up and shut us down. With a limited passing game, and a junior varsity caliber defense, I don't see how we beat Florida, Georgia, Arkansas or South Carolina. That's a 7-5 season. (Assuming you don't count our music city bowl loss to East Carolina)

cagntn writes:

Kevin Rhea could have put more pressure on the QB

CoverOrange writes:

Jed, the mistake on the first and goal at the 2 was having Hardesty jump over the middle on 1st down. The OL got pushed back, obviously, we had to do something different on 2nd. You're right Andy, our own speed killed us as it has for several years in tackling, especially on special teams. If you are going full speed and the ball carrier is standing still, one well timed side step easily makes you miss. STOP GOING FOR THE KILL SHOT!!! Slow down and make him commit one way or the other.

OldNumber7 writes:

Tennessee obviously has no deep threat. On another note, was I the only person in America that saw a spear on the play Ainge coughed up the ball? Tackler lead into Ainge with his helmet - right into the back. I was arm-chair shouting flag - but neither commentator even discussed it.

jedtrdvols writes:

WD, if our offensive line cannot go 2 yards in 4 plays we got major problems. You are right on with the kill shot, wrap up and put him on his tail!

CoverOrange writes:

Nope, you weren't the alone in the US Rocket. How about the pass interferences on the two plays before the Lincoln field goal? I think Brent Musberger spends too much time chowing to actually watch the game, but that doesn't stop him from talking. Looks like he is getting a reverse dunlop disease.

Rebelsfball2008 writes:

when Martin gets back....if ever..(this Year) then the pass rush problem will be diminished greatly...even if teams have to double team him that opens up some holes somewhere...

(keep in mind this is only if he is as good as coaches and scouts say he is..)

Also if we had Coker this would have been a much different game.......Example the Foster run to the 3...If Coker had goten to that hole the Cal DB would have been 10 yards behind him. Also the kickoff return that Foster had, would have been taken to the house no prob.....By no means am i making excuses for the Vols or saying Foster cant play..he proved that he can be a top quality back and can deff. be a game breaker if given space. but i am saying,in context,that once again the mistakes of one can,does,and will affect the entire team....good luck to Cal as well as the Vols. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

andy112382#209793 writes:

jandjhome - no I just call it as I see it, bud.

Yea there were a handful of times I was wondering where some pass inteference calls were, at least on two occassions. The Ainge fumble wasn't exactly a good omen to start with, but as far as that goes, if the ball had landed forward, would it not have been a fumble? His arm was going forward, correct?

This team has seemed like a very focussed team, I think they will respond well, and remember guys, it was an opener, and for a season opener I thought we played pretty darn well, look at the lack of penalties and turnovers outside the opening position. Ainge was certainly solid, back at 68% completion percentage with 3 TDs and no INTs. Still got conference play ahead of us, so don't go jumping off any bridges, take a step back and see what needs tweaking and fixing and come back out even better and beat the gators! GO VOLS!!!

OldNumber7 writes:

Yep, I think our boys met a national title contender today in Cal. Just hope they don't look past South.Miss. A Florida win would make this all go away. Only concerning note I have on offense, other than deep threat non-existent, is it seems our running plays don't follow blockers anymore. I hate to say this, but Johnny Major's backs used to side step and kill enough time for holes to open before heading upfield. Seems like our backs today hit the line before anything develops. Alright, I'm East Coast, time to call it and wake up pissed.

dyoung2020#325368 writes:

First off, our kicking game was a joke. Second where did Lucas Taylor go? Why were we trying to work in our freshman WRs in the 4th quarter. Why was that not PI on the two passes to Brent Vinson in the 4th.

Arian Foster HAS to score on the big run in the 3rd quarter when he gets caught from behind.

The screen pass is only effective when it is a surprise, you can't run it 20+ times in one game. Our LB's played horrible.

But.....Ainge looked pretty good, I thought Foster ran hard, and Eric Berry is going to be a star.

We're in trouble if we can't run the ball better and have to settle for 3 yard passes.

californiavol writes:

in re: rocketvol; I, too, noticed what appeared to be a devastating spear into the qb's back, and I'm glad that Ainge was able to get up and still play after that. Could've been a season/career ender. I agree with everyone that the big orange tackling was atrocious. Not to diminish the athletic abilities of our opponents, but I take pride in the way the vols usually knock the teeth out of anyone approaching the line. Not just missed tackles; flat out whiffed tackles is more like it. And I can't remember the last time I saw a Tennessee game where the opposing quarterback was never touched, rushed or hurried let alone sacked. Pitiful. Nevertheless, we were the only team in America that actually put our reputation on the line in the first game of the season. I like the no-huddle, just actually do something other than short passes with it, please. If this is any indication of the future of the season, look out! I think it's the best start in a few years.

dyoung2020#325368 writes:

I'm not all for being negative, but man it is the same thing year in and year out. Poor tackling, and conservitive playcalling. How about using a tailback that doesn't outweigh our head coach?

Phowell23 writes:

Ainge looked really good even with a broken finger.

A. Foster ran well but he seem to wear down too quickly. I also wonder why they were putting in freshmen receivers when we still had plenty of time for a come back.

Why did we punt with almost 2 minutes left on the clock? Why not at least go for it...I guess he didn't want them to score 50+ on us.

Dear Chavis, please get our defense back in form before we have to travel to Florida or this is going to be one long year.

andy112382#209793 writes:

LeMarcus Coker.....we get him back next week, if you add that in to what we saw tonight and get on of our WRs up to being a consistent deep threat (which I truly believe we can) than I think we will all be happy about the rest of the season. GO VOLS!!!

Rebelsfball2008 writes:

agreed Andy

ozarkvol writes:

Congrats to Cal. You guys have a top 5 offense and have some good special teams play. But your defense is average at best but you do have a few playmakers over there. You have to improve that defense if you are going to beat USC. I will be pulling for you.

Ralph_Crampton writes:


bige14#207337 writes:

I hope I am wrong but alot of UT's problems tonite are not "fixable" in one week. We have no deep threat wide receivers to count on. Our backs looked good and the O-line did a respectable job, but teams will single cover our wideouts and bring the safety into the box to stop our running game and screens. And our d-line cannot generate pressure with just the four down lineman, nor can they plug the run, which means more blitzing by the linebackers and more man coverage by the secondary. Forsett had over 150 yards rushing and looked like he was running downhill in the second half. I hate to be pessimistic but while our tackling should improve, we can't fix the problems we have now with anything but recruiting, and that won't happen til AFTER the season. I hope I am wrong, but while Cal had some exceptional skill postion people, its not well beyond what we'll see in the SEC's best. And the new kickoff rule will kill us as atrocious as our kick coverage units are. The General and Coach Cafego must be rolling in their graves! If we don't at least get the kicks deeper the avg starting field position of our opponents will be the 35 or 40 yard line! ANd with this defense, that's going to be killer!

dyoung2020#325368 writes:

Also please quit calling what we run a no huddle, while technically there is "no" huddle, we are running the same thing we did with Rick Clausen 3 years ago. Get with the 90's and start running some slants, posts, deep crosses. Our only "down field" passes are go routes.

Coach Fulmer please take Coach Major's playbook and burn it, and start running your own plays.


invisiblekid writes:

Wished I could be the eternal optimist like you Andy but I don't know that some of the problems with the run defense are easily correctable. You're right, overpursuit is a problem but it was a problem for much of last year and has spilled over into the season opener with no end in sight. The bigger issue in my opinion is the way our tackles have been pushed around. No penetration and getting swallowed up to allow some gaping holes for RB's are becoming a common theme for these guys. Forsett did a good bit of his damage right up the middle and the way the defense wilted at the end is not a good sign, Cal imposed their will on them in the 4th quarter. I think we have been and will continue to sorely miss Harrell because it just doesn't look like we have a player of his caliber available at this point.

FatherVol writes:

Calbear, thanks for visiting. I wish some of our own members had teh same sense of graciousness as you. My team may have lost, but it was a good game. It was even except for the two big plays: Ainge's fumble and Jackson's return. Good luck and do come back for a visit...but leave your team home. LOL

Ralph_Crampton writes:


andy112382#209793 writes:

Oh, to tag onto the Coker returning comment of mine, Foster did average 6.8 yards/carry and did not fumble, I would say Foster is back closer to his form when he filled in for Riggs and ran all over people.....with Coker back, I think they should run a set where we have two running backs, just add that much more for oppossing defenses to cover and not know exactly where the ball is going, and take some pressure off the WRs. Just a thought.....oh, and I was really impressed with Chris Brown getting that first down in the second half where he took a dive to get the little extra, that showed me a lot and so did the fact they did not stop fighting. Cal is certainly capable of playing for a national title. We may be a year from being quite at that spot, but I think we can get an SEC crown at least. I'll take 11-1 any year! =) Like I stated above, for an opener, where traditionally teams look stale and such, I thought we looked much better than we have in openers in the past!

andy112382#209793 writes:

Oh, as far as a deep threat, Lucas Taylor did average 17.2 yard/catch, so at least that is a start. There weren't many dropped balls either, as one would have probally expected as bad as that made our WRs sound before the game, plus 8 different people caught a pass, so spread it around a bit. I see plenty of things from the game to find promosing, take care of business with Southern Miss and then beat those gators, you would be looking at 3-1 going into the georgia game and in the drivers seat in the east, especially if you take care of business at home against the dawgs. GO VOLS!!!

FatherVol writes:

Thank you for your positive comments, andy. Too many are down in the mouth on here. I think we can take Florida, but we better not get caught looking ahead next Saturday. At least next eyar we get a week off before Florida. Of course, we'll need it after going to Pasedena to play UCLA on the first Saturday of September. But then, Crompton will have a warm-up game against UAB before making that trip.

Regulator writes:

Those two big plays were the difference on the scoreboard, but not the difference in the game. There are some fundamental flaws that need to be addressed on the defensive side of the ball. The problem there is that these problems needed to be addressed over the last couple of seasons. The tackling tonight was atrocious, which is par for the course for the past couple of seasons. Even the surest tackler on the team, Mayo, wasn't filling gaps, got out of position, and missed on several tackles. The DL was generating basically no pass rush, and couldn't consistently plug the line on running plays. Bolden needs to step it up, the potential is there. I thought that Eric Berry was doing his best to put a lick on someone. WE NEED MORE TURNOVERS!! The offense tonight was good enough to win with. Colquitt's injury certainly hurt, I can see why he was handling the KOs. Hopefully Mitchell wasn't seriously injured. The punt return was more of a great individual effort than poor coverage, sometimes you get burnt. I hope the D can take this performance and use it as motivation to improve. If so, Vols still have a great shot at the East. If not, well, lets not go there right now.

CoverOrange writes:

Dyoung, you're right, that was the "freeze" not a "no huddle". Didn't make a whiff of difference did it. Although, both Taylor, Rogers and Brown caught passes on slants and crossings, but I'm begining to wonder if Ainge can throw it downfield, or is he taking the safer pass?

Regulator writes:

I miss the Al Wilson, Will Overstreet, John Henderson, and Deon Grant types that used to reside on this team. Solid, hard-nosed, playmakers. The last few years, there have been too many that look like Tarzan, and play like Jane.

pastor_VOLSfan writes:

Offense played well enough to win tonight but the defense was not ready. I think we have the talent and the people to develop the deep threat but we may not see it until week three or four. The other young receivers played well and will only get better. Our running blocking was better than last year and Foster is a good quality back but we need Coker's speed.

Defense is another story and I am not sure what the answer is or if it is all fixable. They are going to have to work harder than any defense with the new kickoff rule. Not sure what Cal's average starting line was but it felt like the 35-40. Over persuit and better discipline can be corrected with coaching but toughness can not and we did not look tough up front most of the night. I still say that this is a good game win or lose to acurately measure the team by and it gives them some real film against a quality opponent to learn from. I still feel that this game does not make or break our season and over the next couple of weeks we will see what this team is made of and what kind of coaching staff we have.

As far as special teams - i will do what I have been doing the last few years - close my eyes, hold my breath and pray till the play is over.

Got to go to bed or I will be nodding off in the pulpit tomorrow. I will sleep a little better knowing that Michigan lost to IAA App St and that ND lost big.

Good night and God bless

andy112382#209793 writes:

FatherVol, yes you are right, never overlook southern miss. And I said going into the georgia game after win over florida we would be 3-1, I did not mean to make it sound like the Arkansas St. game was a sure thing without thinking about it, after all Texas apparently had some problems tonight with them judging by the closer-than-one-would-think final score. Plenty of reason to be optimistic, though, just given the fact they didn't stop fighing, didn't turn it over after the initial Ainge fumble, and did not panic after that happened, very few penalties and no stupid things like having to take timeouts because of playclock issues, etc. And our kickoff returns were MUCH better this time out, plus Foster didn't fumble!

oaktowner writes:

Vols, your offense looked terrific today--especially Ainge. His first half was absolutely unbelievable.

Neither of our defenses showed much--both teams need to improve on that side of the ball. Ainge picked us apart, and we can't let that happen again. Your secondary kept our receivers in check, which surprised me, but it was our running game that kept us in it. Well, of course, the two big plays had a huge part, too--but if you had stopped Forsett, they wouldn't have mattered.

I'd like to say one more time that last year in Knoxville, Vol fans impressed me. I've been to Notre Dame, I've been to Ann Arbor, SC, the Rose Bowl, and Husky Stadium at UW (when they were good): I think Neyland is the toughest place in the country to play, and I think Tennessee fans are a class act.

We'll do our best to beat SC, you guys get on that defense and take out the SEC.

Ralph_Crampton writes:


ONUV writes:

fire fulmer

midroadrider writes:

Eric Ainge came into his own tonight with the best performance of his TN career. I haven't seen such leadership and competence since Peyton's days. He repeatedly handled adversity, made plays and kept his team together in the face of tough situations.
You can't expect to travel to the west coast, go up against a top caliber team and win very often. You're chances are 1 in 4 in my estimation. All one has to do to entertain my claim is check the stats or simply remember the game in Neyland one year ago. Our players & coaches did not appear intimidated by such a daunting task. On the contrary, I observed a group of well coached, strong hearted young men who kept bringing TN pride to the line.

snafu14u#241639 writes:

We lost to a better team. The good news is that we will get better, how much I don't know.The defense looked slow and tentative on occassion. Run offense and run defense are a big concern. As a side note, Michigan's coach ought to resign. Fall on his sword so to speak.And the poster on our sight that kept saying (in BOLD) the we were "GOING TO FRIGGIN KILL THE GOLDEN BEARS" ought to never post again.He's an idiot. Cal Bear visitor was refreshing. Go Big Orange ...bonzaivol

andy112382#209793 writes:

oaktowner, thank you for your comments, your Cal team looked pretty darn impressive, plenty of speed and toughness there, so good luck in the PAC-10 and PLEASE beat SoCal, I am tired of hearing the lovefest. During the Idaho highlights you would have thought SoCal was playing in a BCS bowl game or something the way they talk about them, it was IDAHO! They did get beat by Oregon St. and UCLA so they are indeed mortal and I will be pulling to Cal in that one. Heck, best case scenario Tennessee takes care of business and wins the SEC and Cal plays for a national title and we can say we only lost to a national title team! are there chances of playing Cal in a bowl game and making it a best of three series??? haha.

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