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Monday, October 10, 2005
ANG Newspapers: Cal looks forward following first loss
By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER
It's all a matter of perspective. A loss is a loss, but UCLA's 47-40 defeat of Cal was spine-tingling, not spine-fracturing. After Cal's most emotional game since its 34-31 triple-overtime victory over USC two years ago, coach Jeff Tedford was asked what he has learned of his Bears at the halfway point of this season. "We have a team that battles hard," he said. "They leave it on the field. It's a temporary setback. We'll find out what we're made of." UCLA (5-0, 2-0) learned a great deal about itself in coach Karl Dorrell's third season. It's all come together for the formerly spineless Bruins. They no longer cave in, but show the backbone to pull out comeback victories, scoring the final 12 points Saturday night. Cal (5-1, 2-1) crumbled at crunch time, reminiscent of 2003, but controlled most of Saturday's game in an electrifying atmosphere. Afterward, in a telltale sign, the Bears showed remarkable composure. Tedford and his players weren't devastated by the loss. Instead, Cal seemed more hopeful than humbled. There is, truthfully, a successful season still awaiting the Bears. Nothing's easy in the Pac-10, as proven once again before a near-capacity, intensely loud 84,811 fans at the Rose Bowl.
But Cal has winnable games at home the next two weeks against OregonState and WashingtonState. Then, after a bye week, there's a visit to Oregon, a home game against USC, and the Big Game at Stanford. A 9-2 or 8-3 record is available to Cal, unless giddy Old Blues expect the Bears to run the table. One never knows in the Pac-10. This weekend, Stanford, losers to UC Davis, won at WashingtonState. Oregon defeated ArizonaState in a revealing game at Eugene. And Arizona, shut out by Cal, moved the ball against a suddenly vulnerable-looking USC before losing 42-21. One thing we do know, Tedford's teams don't come apart. The Bears have shown a consistency under Tedford to rebound from crushing defeats. Remember USC a year ago? After losing 23-17 to the Trojans in the fourth game, the Bears reeled off seven straight regular-season wins before losing to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.
Cal was volcano-eruptive on offense Saturday. Justin Forsett had runs of 57 and 36 yards, and averaged 15.3 per carry. Marshawn Lynch, after a first-quarter suspension for missing a physician's meeting, was ferocious in breaking tackles and moving piles, finishing with 135 yards. Ayoob was efficient and accurate except for a late-game interception, Cal's only turnover. But the Bears failed in the red zone, settling for four Tom Schneider field goals. And penalties nullified big gains and one touchdown for the Bears, whose special teams suffered mightily. Nevertheless, in a hostile environment, Cal demonstrated a remarkable coolness to hang in there before surrendering in the end. "It was kind of fun," said freshman wide receiver DeSean Jackson after catching 10 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. "I love battle games. We just didn't come out on top." Not this time. But not every opponent has a Maurice Drew, who scored five touchdowns, or a Drew Olson, who threw for two TDs. UCLA turned down the lights, but Cal can yet make this season a big party.