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Thursday, November 10, 2005
Oakland Tribune: DeSean's dream: hit the jackpot vs. USC
Saturday means even more to Jackson after bad game in Eugene
By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER
BERKELEY — DeSean Jackson has been counting down the days in anticipation, much like a child waiting for Christmas and Santa Claus. Now that day is almost here. On Saturday, Jackson faces the school, USC, he spurned to come to Cal. Being from Long Beach, which is TrojanTerritory, his leaving home was viewed by some as treasonous. "This means a lot to me," he said of facing USC. "I grew up there, always went to see them practice. They're a great school. We just need to get a win over them." Jackson is anxious to face the No.1 Trojans for another reason — last Saturday's butterfingers game at Oregon when he dropped four passes in the wind, rain and chill. "It's just one of those things you have to get over," he said Wednesday. "I had a lot of focus on the weather, and I think I let it take me out of my game plan. I hadn't dropped that many balls before. "But I can't really use that as an excuse."You still have to go out and make plays. We've got a big game this week. I'm working real hard, trying to put everything together. Hopefully, I'll get my call." Cal coach Jeff Tedford kept calling plays for Jackson in Eugene even though he didn't catch a pass. But he was running freely behind the Oregon secondary. Joe Ayoob overthrew him or under threw him four times. "DeSean has a lot of confidence," said Tedford. "The great thing about him is he understands that day wasn't like him. He came out Monday, ran hard, practiced hard, looking forward to getting back on the field. "It's unfortunate he dropped a few balls, but the first time in that environment. I'm sure he'll learn from that and move on. I have 100 percent confidence in him that he'll bounce back. He's a great player." Why did Jackson choose Cal over USC? "The most important thing was the opportunity I was going to get here sooner," he said. "Cal was losing six receivers; USC wasn't losing any receivers. I wanted to be an impact player right away." "He's really talented," USC coach Pete Carroll said of Jackson. "Living in Long Beach, he hadn't played in the rain a whole lot. I don't think he had such a bad day (at Oregon). They just didn't hook up. He was out there in the clear a lot. He's obviously had a big impact his freshman year."
The 6-0, 175-pound Jackson leads Cal (6-3, 3-3 Pac-10) with 29 receptions. He's averaging 13.7 yards a catch with four touchdown catches. He has one punt return, 49 yards for a score against SacramentoState. Looking back, was Cal the right choice for Jackson? "I'm happy with my decision," he said. "Sometimes, you look at ESPN and see all the top teams. And I look at it like, 'Man, I could have gone to any one of those schools.' But this is a good place, and hopefully everything is going to get turned around." USC (9-0, 6-0) has improved its defense greatly the last two games. Tedford pointed out how the Trojans don't leave the middle of the field open, making it difficult for opposing receivers. "I definitely think you can get open against them," said Jackson. "You can work their blind spots and get loose a little bit." Tedford understands how important Saturday will be for Jackson and other Bears who grew up in USC's giant shadow in the Los Angeles area. "There's no question that they've played with them or against them in high school," Tedford said. "There's a lot of familiarity. That definitely raises the attention level. "And I don't want to speak for DeSean, but there was a big recruiting battle that went on, and you always want to show that you made the right decision. But he has a long career ahead of him, and there will be other opportunities (to face USC)." But after last Saturday, Jackson can't wait for this Saturday.