Monday, September 17, 2007

Daily Cal: Postgame Reaction Shows New Mentality

BY Steffi Chan

Listening to Cal coach Jeff Tedford after Saturday’s 42-12 win over Louisiana Tech, one would’ve thought the Bears had lost instead of winning their third straight to keep their perfect record intact.  As soon as Lavelle Hawkins returned the opening kickoff for an electric 90 yards down the right sideline to put No. 8 Cal up 6-0, the result of the game was surer than the Stanford Axe staying in Berkeley for another year after this December. And yet, judging by the words coming out of the coach’s mouth in his first minute of postgame reflection, one wouldn't have guessed it.

“... Undisciplined ...”

“... third and long ...”

“... shot ourselves in the foot ...”

“... a little off ...”

All this came before Tedford said anything positive about, oh yeah, his team’s 30-point domination of the Bulldogs.  Since when did scoring 42 points with a 30-point margin equal a mediocre performance—especially taking into account that the very same losing team had scored 44 points and taken No. 20 Hawaii to overtime the week before?  Perhaps since this team went from being a program with potential to a perennial ranked program.  The Bears have risen to No. 6 in the polls. ESPN’s Lee Corso (“I like that Cal football team, they’re a good football team, because they play good football!”) even ranked Cal in his top five.  In other words, the Bears are no longer an up-and-coming team—no longer are they happy just to escape with a “W.”  “We have big goals set up, and today wasn’t a big step to reaching that goal,” Forsett said. “We did get the ‘W,’ so that was important, but I thought we could’ve done more.”  This sentiment coming from Forsett, had it come at any other time, would have been shocking.

The running back—in his first year as the every-down back, no less, and after suffering a back stinger the week before against Colorado State—finished the game with 152 rushing yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns. He averaged a solid 6.6 yards per carry, and his 39-yard touchdown scamper was the longest of his career.  But the “little things,”—as Forsett called them—like a first-quarter play in which he took the handoff, saw a crease but slipped to the ground for no gain, bothered the senior enough to be dissatisfied with what anyone else would judge to be an impressive performance.  Neither was Hawkins too content with his execution. On top of his thrilling kick return for a touchdown, the wideout led the Bears with seven catches for 87 yards, and seemed to become quarterback Nate Longshore’s favorite target early on.  But he wasn’t about to pat himself on the back for a job well done.  “I did all right,” Hawkins said. “I (would give myself) a ‘C’ today. I wasn’t all that. It was far from my potential. I totally think there’s a lot that we can work on.”  The Bears have risen to a level where a 30-point win is nothing spectacular, where the “little things” are big enough to keep them from smiling about a blowout victory, where a 90-yard kickoff return is still considered part of a subpar showing. This team is striving for perfection now, and a mediocre win over Louisiana Tech is not going to cut it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gotta love Lee Corso!