Lyman hurt against USC

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California wide receiver Chase Lyman will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left knee.

Lyman, who leads the Golden Bears (3-1, No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) with 14 catches for 414 yards and five touchdowns, was hurt during their 23-17 loss to top-ranked Southern California last Saturday. The surgery was performed on Monday, a team spokesman said.

The senior was dogged by injuries throughout his career at Cal, battling everything from appendicitis to problems with his hips, hamstrings, groin and ankles.

He made just 40 receptions in his first three years at the school, but had been largely healthy this fall while leading the NCAA with 29.6 yards per catch.

"I feel bad for Chase," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said Tuesday. "He just can't get a break. He's invested so much time and energy into coming back and becoming a great player."

It was not known if Lyman would ask the NCAA for another year of eligibility.

Lyman's speed and size made him the Bears' biggest downfield threat opposite Geoff McArthur, a smaller receiver who finished second in the nation in yards receiving last season.

Lyman probably will be replaced in the starting lineup by Jonathan Makonnen, the Bears' leading receiver in 2002 before a broken foot kept him out for most of 2003.

Makonnen has just two receptions for 22 yards this season while missing practice time with a strained hamstring. He slipped on the Coliseum grass on Cal's final offensive play against USC, failing to catch Aaron Rodgers' pass into the end zone for a potential winning score.

"Chase going down is unfortunate, but it gives me a chance to improve myself and pick up where I left off (two years ago)," Makonnen said. "Up until last year, I had never really missed a game in my life due to injury. That's just the way this game is."

Burl Toler and freshman Noah Smith, one of the Pac-10's fastest players, also will get more playing time in Lyman's absence.

The Bears don't expect Lyman's absence to slow their offense, which is second in the nation with 510.3 yards per game after outgaining USC 424-205.

"Chase provided a little bit of a spark," Tedford said. "We've got some young guys now that will have to step up and provide us with that spark."