At the beginning of this season, many people looked at Cal's wide receivers as DeSean Jackson & Co. But six games into the season, it's been much more than that for the Bears.
Led by one of the best groups of receivers on the West Coast, the Bears have put together a prolific passing attack led by the three-headed monster of Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan. The three have combined for 90 receptions and spearheaded a Cal offense that is multi-dimensional and has plenty of playmakers on the outside. "These are the best receivers we will see up to this point," cornerback Trey Brown said. "Once they get the ball in the guys' hands, they are trying to score touchdowns. "In order for us to do what we need to do, we need to limit them getting the ball in their hands."
That will be a difficult task for UCLA's secondary, which is among the most experienced and best in the nation. "They are a good group of receivers, but as a defense, you are never concerned about one group of guys," safety Chris Horton said. "They have a lot of explosive players over there. They are pretty dangerous when they do get the ball."
As is always the case when UCLA and Cal play, there will be plenty of players on both sides who are good friends with someone on the other side. But Marcus Everett and his Cal counterpart, Jackson, take that friendship one step further. The two are best friends and have known one another since they were little kids. They grew up running track and playing Pop Warner together, with Everett as a running back and Jackson a cornerback. At a recent practice, Everett laughed when recalling the year their team, which also featured UCLA running back Ryen Carew, went undefeated and nearly weren't scored upon. "We had the best Pop Warner team in the nation," said Everett, who's not expected to play Saturday because of a nagging ankle injury. "We went the whole season without getting scored upon, and with two minutes left in the championship game, we were winning 21-0 and DeSean bites on the play-action and they score on us. "Kids were crying because we were mad we got scored upon. We still tease him about it."
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Coach Karl Dorrell confirmed that Pat Cowan will start Saturday and McLeod Bethel-Thompson will be the primary backup. Osaar Rasshan will stay at quarterback indefinitely instead of switching back to receiver. Running back Chris Markey (turf toe) may play but will be behind several other backs on the depth chart. The tests performed on defensive end Nikola Dragovic for a sports hernia came back negative. Wide receiver Gavin Ketchum has a small fracture in his lower leg and has been in a walking boot all week.