Running game, surprising depth spark Bears

It's a testimony to California's depth, fortified by coach Jeff Tedford's outstanding recruiting, that a team with just 11 returning starters from 2004 can have eight starters out with injury and not miss a beat. And it appears the Bears are getting healthy as they hit the Pac-10 schedule. Tailback Marshawn Lynch, who has missed two games with a broken pinky finger, will return for the Arizona game, while offensive tackle Ryan O'Callaghan and guard Aaron Merz are expected back to block for him.

Not that they were missed terribly. Sophomore tailback Justin Forsett rushed for 234 yards against New Mexico State, the fourth-best performance by a Cal running back. Forsett has 421 yards in four games, and the Bears' 16-game streak with a back running for over 100 yards remains intact. Forsett was headed to Notre Dame two years ago before his scholarship was yanked. "We're very fortunate he slipped through the cracks," Tedford said. Despite Lynch's injury, Cal ranks sixth in the nation in rushing (275.8 yards per game) and is the only Pac-10 team producing more yards on the ground than in the air.

The passing attack may have a question mark this weekend. Receiver Lavelle Hawkins sprained his ankle against New Mexico State and may have to sit out. If he can't go, Sam DeSa would step in. Hawkins' loss may not hurt much because true freshman DeSean Jackson appears on the cusp of breaking out after hauling in nine receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown last weekend. Jackson, one of the most highly recruited prospects in the nation last winter, didn't thrill Tedford, however, with his planned celebration of a 41-yard touchdown pass with fellow receiver Robert Jordan that earned a 15-yard penalty tacked onto the ensuing kickoff. That kickoff from the Bears' 20-yard line was returned for a 94-yard touchdown instead of sailing into the end zone, the typical destination for a David Lonie boot. "I don't think you'll see him do that again," Tedford said of Jackson's touchdown dance.