In his first career start, it didn't take long for Cal cornerback Josh Hill to make an impression on the box score.

The redshirt freshman made the Bears' second tackle of Saturday's game at Oregon. On the Ducks' next possession, he recovered a fumble, only to lose a fumble on the attempted return.

If you didn't notice that Hill had started in place of Darian Hagan at the beginning of the game, it was hard to miss him soon after.

"(Hill) plays with good technique," Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. "We kind of felt like he deserved to start. We'd like to continue to see (Hagan) continue to improve. I think it's also a credit to Josh that he's playing well enough to play. The more guys we can play (it) will make us better."

Hill earned the start after Hagan, who started every game last year, was beat for all three of Minnesota's touchdowns the previous week. Although the Bears were crushed by Oregon 42-3, Gregory was pleased with Hill, who recorded four tackles and a pass breakup.

"It was a great experience for me," Hill said. "I just worked hard and I knew it would pay off."

Gregory said Hill would start Saturday's game against No. 7 USC.

After the Bears forced Oregon into a fumble on the opening kickoff, Cal had another turnover when safety Brett Johnson dislodged the ball from Ducks running back LaMichael James and Hill recovered. But as he attempted to run it back, Hill fumbled and Oregon got it back.

"It happened so quick," Hill said. "I just saw it, caught it, and was running with it and he just came up from behind and just hit it out. I wanted to score. I was just trying to do too much."

As for Hagan, Gregory said his performance in Minnesota was an extension of how he had been practicing. Hagan was bothered by knee tendinitis during training camp, which may have set him back.

"The thing that hurt Darian in the Minnesota game is he wasn't playing with good technique," Gregory said. "He knows that, and he's getting better at it. The Minnesota game just kind of exposed him a little bit, but he's practicing better."

  • Only 30 of Jahvid Best's 1,580 rushing yards came against USC last season, and the country's returning leading rusher is out to prove to the Trojans that he can be productive.

    "It definitely gives me a little more motivation to go out there and produce this weekend, just to show that I can produce," Best said. "It's definitely going to be a challenge. It's going to be a physical game. We just have to be ready for it."

    USC had statistically one of the best defenses in college football in quite some time last season, allowing an average of just nine points and 221.8 yards per game. Despite returning just three starters from their defense, the Trojans are in the top 10 again this season and allow just 1.7 yards per rush.

    "They get new faces every year, but they get the same productivity," Best said. "It's a typical USC defense."

  • Left guard Matt Summers-Gavin has been ruled out of Saturday's game because of a sprained shoulder. Mark Boskovich, who started 10 games last year, will take his place. ... Cal coach Jeff Tedford said Vince D'Amato will handle kickoffs once again this week. D'Amato kicked off just twice against Oregon, sending one to the 9-yard line and one to the goal line.