A name familiar to Cal fans will be doing the TV analysis of the Golden Bears’ game against Washington Saturday night at Husky Stadium in Seattle.
Shane Vereen, who had a heroic performance for Cal in the 2009 Big Game and was a starter on the Patriots’ 2015 Super Bowl win, will not only be doing the expert commentary for Saturday’s game on the Pac-12 Network, but will be the TV analyst for Cal’s home game against Washington State next week.
Vereen is especially looking forward to returning to Berkeley.
“I miss Cal,” he said Friday. “I loved my time there.”
As he notes in the video at the end of this story, he is already thinking about walking down Telegraph Avenue again and visiting the haunts he frequented a decade ago.
However, he knows he must try to avoid referring to Cal as “we” during Saturday night’s broadcast in Seattle, as he notes in the video atop this story.
Vereen expects a close game Saturday.
“I think it’s going to be tight,” he said. “Washington's probably a little bit better on paper than Cal is. However, Washington, similar to Cal, hasn’t been playing their best football for four quarters.”
He figures that if Cal scores in the 20-24-point range, the Bears will win.
It is the Golden Bears’ second-half lapses that have puzzled Vereen, saying it’s unlike Justin Wilcox-coached Cal teams.
“There’s no doubt in my mind they should be 3-0,” Vereen said of Cal, which is 1-2.
Vereen played on some pretty good teams at Cal, playing for Jeff Tedford from 2008 through 2010, and rushing for more than 1,100 yards in his final season. But it was his performance in the 2009 game against Stanford that stands out.
“Hands down my best performance at Cal,” he said, “My biggest moment at Cal.”
It’s easy to see why. He rushed for 193 yards on a whopping 42 carries in the Bears’ 34-28 upset of 14th-ranked Stanford, ruining the Cardinal’s bid to land a Rose Bowl berth.
Shane Vereen recalls the 2009 Stanford game and his games against Washington:
That Big Game was loaded with stars. Stanford running back Toby Gerhart was the Heisman Trophy runnerup that season, and quarterback Andrew Luck was the Heisman runnerup in 2010 and 2011. Cal’s squad included future NFL starters Cameron Jordan, Tyson Alualu, Mychal Kendricks, Marvin Jones Jr, Bryan Anger, and Chris Conte as well as Vereen.
But the unquestioned star of that game was Vereen, whose 42-carry performance was even more impressive when we learned that he had sprained an ankle and tore meniscus in his knee early in the game.
He felt it the next day.
"Tired is an understatement," he said. "I could barely walk.
"Yeah, I got hurt, but at the same time it was all worth it, and I would do it again in heartbeat."
The next week Vereen played his first and only game at Husky Stadium, and the Bears, ranked 19th at the time, were dominated by the underdog Huskies 42-10.
“We were definitely the better team,” Vereen said, “but they were the better team that night.”
Cal had defeated Washington in 2008, and Vereen faced the Huskies for the third and final time in in Berkeley in 2010. It was the final game of Vereen’s Cal career and it was not a pleasant farewell.
Vereen ran for 106 yards, but Washington scored a touchdown on the final play of the game to eke out a 16-13 victory over Cal, costing the Bears a bowl berth and ending Cal’s run of seven straight bowl seasons.
“Sad, but humbling way to end my career,” said Vereen, who used that result as motivation during his pro career.
Vereen will return to the scene of that game next week, when he is a TV analyst for Cal’s home game against Washington State.
And Vereen relishes the opportunity to return to Berkeley.
“I love coming back home,” he said. “It’s going to be a special game.”
Shane Vereen talks about returning to Berkeley next week:
Cal head coach Justin Wilcox talks about Shane Vereen
Cover photo of Shane Vereen by Kim Kement, USA TODAY Sports
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