Eye surgery sidelines coach for ASU

Updated: October 26, 2004, 8:41 PM ET
Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California offensive coordinator George Cortez will miss this weekend's game against Arizona State after undergoing surgery Tuesday to repair a detached retina.

Cortez, who also serves as Cal's quarterbacks coach, could miss two weeks while recovering. He didn't make the seventh-ranked Bears' trip to Tucson last weekend for their 38-0 win over Arizona. He won't be in his usual spot in the press box Saturday against the 20th-ranked Sun Devils.

Cortez, a longtime CFL coach, has spent the past three seasons as Jeff Tedford's top assistant in devising and implementing the Bears' powerful offense, which leads the nation with 508.3 yards per game.

Though Tedford calls Cal's plays, Cortez's input is a key.

"We just have an empty headset up there (in the press box)," said Tedford, who has limited his public appearances this week to spend extra time coaching. "That's the one thing you really miss, is communication from the box."

Tedford didn't explain how Cortez's injury occurred.

The Bears' offense has been incredibly balanced, averaging 245.5 yards rushing and 262.8 yards passing, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers could be limited by injuries to two more of his top receivers.

Jonathan Makonnen is expected to miss the game against Arizona State with a bruised liver, though the Bears don't know how long he'll be out. Makonnen was held overnight in a Tucson hospital last weekend after getting hurt on a legal block during a punt return in the second quarter.

Burl Toler, who has started two games at receiver this season, has tendinitis in both knees. He will be limited in practice, but is expected to play against the Sun Devils.

Chase Lyman, Cal's leading receiver after four games, already is out for the season with a torn knee ligament.

But star senior Geoff McArthur is healthy, and Tedford also has rushed three freshmen into prominent roles.

Robert Jordan, who hoped to redshirt the season, caught five passes for 40 yards against Arizona, while Sam DeSa and Noah Smith also saw playing time. In addition, seldom-used sophomore David Gray might be available Saturday after sitting out with a sprained foot.

"Those are our guys," Tedford said. "That's our receiving corps now. Last week, they all got in the game and made some plays. You could see a bounce in their step, see they were having fun."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press