Thursday, November 09, 2006

Contra Costa Times: Defense Bends Without Breaking

Jay Heater

The company line at Cal has been to stay calm about a defense that has given up yardage but few points. Free safety Bernard Hicks conceded, though, that allowing 516 yards against UCLA was a shock. ``I was surprised,'' Hicks said of his response when told of the Bruins' total yardage. ``During the game, I really didn't see it. We've got to step up our game.'' Hicks said he made a mistake in coverage that led to a long pass play and said other coverage mistakes led to big plays. Hicks, a sophomore, will be starting the sixth game of his career Saturday at Arizona. Cal won 38-24 over UCLA, but Hicks said the Bears can't afford to keep making mistakes. ``A dominant offensive team will take advantage of all those yards,'' he said.

Arizona should provide a good test for Cal's defense. At No. 25 Washington State on Saturday, Arizona had two scoring drives of 80 yards and one of 52 yards in its 27-17 victory. The Wildcats had the ball for 11:03 in the fourth quarter. The return of Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama (concussion) had a lot to do with the Wildcats' drives. ``Willie seems very, very comfortable,'' Cal Coach Jeff Tedford said. ``Obviously, having him back makes their offense more potent. He brings an added dimension. He is very tough in the pocket. Against Washington State, he didn't turn over the ball. In previous games, they have made it very hard on themselves.''

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