Game Notebook: Jones' 'Spectacular' Performance Was Long-Awaited

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Against Maryland, receiver Marvin Jones finally had the game that everyone thought he could.

Jones was the Cal football team's leading receiver on Saturday with 74 yards and a touchdown. He caught just three passes, but Bears coach Jeff Tedford called all of them "spectacular." Two were full-extension leaps into the air, and the third was the 42-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Riley that Jones ran down in the end zone and caught with a defender on his hip.

"Marvin Jones, we've been waiting for him," Tedford said. "We knew what he was capable of. It was just waiting for him to get in."

As a freshman, Jones played brilliantly early on in practice and then caught only one ball in five games before his season was derailed by injury. The team was sure of his potential coming into this season, Jones' performance in fall camp only increased their confidence in him, and on Saturday he got the opportunity to show that he can be the kind of big-play target Cal lacked in 2008.

"It was fun," Jones said. "Just looking back on last season -- I got hurt last Maryland game -- just sitting out and soaking all those games in, it felt real great to come back on the national stage and just have fun, go out there and play all out."

Asked what Jones adds to the passing game, Riley pointed to the "wow" factor of the sophomore's three receptions.

"I mean, you can see," Riley said. "He gets open and makes catches. Every catch he had tonight was a tough catch."

Against a Maryland defense that blitzed heavily, Jones said he and the rest of Cal's receivers knew they would encounter frequent one-on-one coverage and have the opportunity to break some long plays as a result. Jones' 42-yard catch was the longest of the evening, but both Verran Tucker and Nyan Boateng also caught passes of 39 yards.

"We were put into a situation that we could make plays," Jones said. "Riley had all the balls almost on point. It was great. We just had to make those plays and we did, and I'm happy for us, the whole team, the receiving corps."

Run Defense

Cal's defense came away from last year's Maryland game feeling like the Terrapins had run all over them.

"And that's not Cal football," cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson said, "so we really wanted to come out here and stop the run."

Aside from Da'Rel Scott's 39-yard touchdown in the third quarter, the Bears clamped down on Maryland's rushing attack -- particularly in the first half. The Terrapins had just 33 rushing yards at halftime. They did finish with 136 yards on the ground, only five less than they had against Cal last year, but most of that total came with the game all but decided.

"I think we did good," Thompson said. "Couple nicks here and there that we can clean up, and obviously that long run stands out. It's just about getting in the film room and learning from our mistakes."

Overall, defensive coordinator Bob Gregory was pleased with his unit's effort. The Bears forced and recovered two fumbles, sacked Maryland quarterback Chris Turner six times and held the Terrapins to a 4-of-17 conversion rate on third down.

"We had three goals that we wanted to do this week," Gregory said. "One was to stop the run -- except for one play I think we did a good job of that. Do good on play action pass, which I think we did. And get off the field on third down, which we were very good on. All the things we wanted to do, I think we very much accomplished."

Handling the Terps' D

Tedford was pleased with the way that his offense -- particularly the line -- handled a Maryland defensive scheme that Cal hadn't been able to fully prepare for. The Terrapins were aggressive and blitzed often, but Riley was sacked just twice and looked poised even when the pocket closed on him.

"They were coming at us pretty good," Tedford said. "But we stayed fairly basic with our game plan, only because we didn't know exactly what we were going to get. I thought (O-line coach Steve Marshall) had the offensive line very well prepared for it."

The Bears totaled 244 rushing yards. Riley said that Cal's linemen felt as though they were "dominating" their Maryland counterparts.

"They wanted to run the ball every time," Riley said. "I was glad we didn't, but they said they felt like they had complete control."

Game Notes

-- Tight end Spencer Ladner had to be helped off the field in the fourth quarter due to a knee injury, which Tedford said will be evaluated on Tuesday. Safety Sean Cattouse suffered a concussion and is day-to-day. Receiver Verran Tucker showed up to the team's conditioning session on Sunday evening wearing a protective boot because of a bruised calf, but Tedford said that was just to take the stress off the calf and let the swelling go down.

-- Sophomore linebacker Mychal Kendricks had a team-high 12 tackles. His previous career high was four.

-- Riley said he received "a couple compliments" for his block on a Maryland lineman that sprung Jahvid Best's cutback-turned-40-yard run.

-- Tight end Skylar Curran and receiver Alex Lagemann both had their first career catches. Curran's was a touchdown in the second quarter and Lagemann's a 23-yard gain in the third.

-- Tedford recorded his 60th win as coach of the Bears, becoming just the fourth coach in program history to reach that mark.


Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]

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