BERKELEY — Verran Tucker started making his case as Cal's go-to receiver two weeks ago at Arizona. After Saturday's game against Oregon, the case may be closer to being closed.
Tucker caught six passes for 83 yards, including a couple of pivotal third-down grabs, during the Bears 26-16 victory at Memorial Stadium. That followed a four-catch, 68-yard performance against the Wildcats. Tucker has more catches and yards than any Cal receiver over the past three games.
"This game was another step toward where I'd like to be, which is the go-to guy and one of the leading receivers on this team," Tucker said. "Eventually, one of us is going to step up. That's where we all want to be. Whoever the go-to guy is, I just want to get these wins every week."
Tucker caught two passes for 41 yards on Cal's first scoring drive, both catches coming on first down. That helped set up a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Riley to Jeremy Ross.
"Big-time," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said when asked about Tucker's performance. "He had some nice catches on third down over on the sideline. It's hard to catch the ball with your hands in that type of weather, and I thought he did a great job of concentrating and catching it with his hands."
Running back Jahvid Best was in and out of the lineup after losing two fumbles. He ended up with 93 yards on 16 carries, not to mention a pretty good dose of frustration.
"It was very frustrating," he said. "I just had to calm myself down and just realize that given another chance, I have to make something happen."
Best broke a 50-yard run in the first quarter but fumbled at the end of the play, and it was recovered by Oregon's T.J. Ward.
Donovan Edwards made his first career start at right tackle, and Justin Cheadle did the same at right guard, filling in for Chet Teofilo and Noris Malele, each of whom missed the game with ankle injuries. The newcomers did an effective job in pass protection, especially Edwards, who had to contend with Oregon's dynamic duo of defensive ends, Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu.
"After my first series, I calmed down," Edwards said. "(The coaches) told me that they had a lot of confidence in me and were willing to put it in my hands. They prepared me well through fall camp and leading up to this game. I just had to go out and play."
Linebacker Mike Mohamed led the Bears with 14 tackles. Zack Follett had 11 tackles and a sack, and Cameron Jordan registered 10 tackles and a sack. ... The Bears' five turnovers were the most since they gave up five to USC in 2005.
— Jonathan Okanes