Hagan abruptly resurfaced in Saturday's 45-26 win over UCLA, making five tackles and breaking up three passes. His strong play was timely, because Thompson bruised his lower back and missed most of the game. Thompson also missed practice Tuesday, leaving his status for Saturday's game in doubt.
Hagan knows all about injuries. He nursed lingering soreness in his left knee throughout training camp. That limited him in practice and led to some bad habits, culminating in a miserable game Sept. 19 at Minnesota, when he allowed two touchdown passes.
His performance against UCLA offered hope Hagan more often will resemble the player he was last season - shadowing receivers and getting his hands on passes.
"Things have been getting better," Hagan said Tuesday. "I definitely feel I can continue to play like this. ... I had a terrible season up until the UCLA game, so it was a good feeling."
Hagan credited his turnaround to regaining strength in his knee and improving his footwork and alignment. His technique lagged earlier in the season, causing Hill to replace him in the starting lineup.
"I thought he played well in coverage and tackled really well," head coach Jeff Tedford said of Hagan's effort against UCLA. "A couple of times in the open field, he was one-on-one with guys and did a great job of coming up and making a really sure tackle."
- While he may have sulked and questioned his decision to play football if he were younger, Hagan is determined to improve his focus and play better.
JO has luncheon quotes from Hagan, Hill, Vereen, Mohamed, and Jones. Lots of good stuff there.
- The Bears are confident that they will finish the season strong. Their goal is a 7-0 record.
- JO gets an explanation for the 10-men-on-the-field mistake.
- Ted Miller says Cal's performance will largely determine the final results of the Pac-10. Winning or losing against middle-of-the-pack teams will help sort out the mess in the middle of the standings. Miller, our eternal optimist, predicts Cal will get it together and end up in the Holiday Bowl.
- WSU's swiss-cheese O-line looks to be improved with the return of three injured players. SeattleTimes has more on the return of B.J. Guerra, Zack Williams, and Steven Ayers.
- BusterSports has bowl projections. Cal ends up in the Poinsettia Bowl with a 7-5 (4-5) finish. I have a very difficult time believing his predictions for Cal, Stanford, and Washington. These projections may have made sense a week or two ago, but they're pretty bizarre now.
Patrick Christopher is CBS Sports' no. 19 wing player in the nation (and top in the Pac-10).