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BY Steven Dunst
Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley knows Cal wide receiver DeSean Jackson better than most. While an assistant coach at LSU, Dooley said he flew out to Los Angeles and spent many nights in Jackson’s home, recruiting the blue-chip wideout for the Tigers. Dooley and the Bulldogs (1-1) will travel to another place Jackson calls home—Memorial Stadium—for a 3:30 p.m. tilt with the No. 8 Bears tomorrow. As if the task of recruiting Jackson to LSU was not difficult enough, Dooley now finds himself with the unenviable job of trying to contain the Heisman candidate. “I know this,” Dooley said, “if he takes one to the house everyone will call me a damn fool for punting to him.” But as the Bears (2-0) have proven over the last two weeks in wins over Tennessee and Colorado State, Jackson is far from their only weapon on offense. Freshman tailbacks Jahvid Best and James Montgomery both reached the end zone last week while quarterback Nate Longshore struggled with his accuracy in the high altitude, wideout Robert Jordan sat out with a bruised rib and starting running back Justin Forsett nursed a back stinger through most of the second half. Both Forsett and Jordan are expected to play tomorrow.
“The first thing I noticed about Cal is what a physical team they are,” Dooley said. “They do a great job running the football.” The Bears needed all of the yards they could get on the ground, in a 34-28 nail-biter that wideout Lavelle Hawkins said could serve as a wake-up call for the much-hyped Cal team. “Teams are going to have bad games. I’m glad it happened early instead of late,” Hawkins said. “We don’t want to be on ESPN all week long about a loss like (Michigan’s). That’s all we were thinking about during (Saturday’s) game. Oh my god this is not going to happen to us.” Louisiana Tech is no stranger to big games. It suffered a 45-44 overtime loss to No. 20 Hawaii last Saturday and will face No. 2 LSU later in the season. Indeed, their nonconference slate may be the most difficult in the nation. “You really have to take it one game at a time, otherwise it would be exhausting,” Dooley said. “The challenge this week is about as big a challenge as going anywhere in the country.” Warriors quarterback Colt Brennan mauled the Bulldogs through the air last week en route to 548 yards passing and four touchdowns. But Louisiana Tech’s defense did force three fumbles and sacked Brennan four times.
“(Hawaii) is certainly as good an offense as anyone in the country,” Dooley said. “We’ve been fortunate so far to put some pressure on the quarterback. But we weren’t able to finish it off.” The Bulldogs though have already accumulated the as many sacks (eight) as they managed throughout all of last season, led by Chris Pugh with 2.5. “They have speed, they’re talented up front,” Tedford said of the Louisiana Tech pass rush. “They bring a lot of blitzing.” Running back Patrick Jackson has led the way with 109 yards per game of offense for the Bulldogs, who average 36 points per contest so far this season behind over 400 total yards on the ground. Like always, the Bears linebackers will be called upon not only to step up in run support but to pressure the quarterback when defensive coordinator Bob Gregory uses his blitz packages. Cal fans have grown accustomed to seeing outside linebacker Zack Follett harassing opposing quarterbacks, but against the Rams it was Anthony Felder’s turn. The junior had two sacks, a forced fumble and 13 total tackles. “We typically get the pass rush when we blitz our linebackers,” Tedford said. “When they blitz, they come hard.” Tomorrow’s tilt is the Bears’ final tuneup before the arduous Pac-10 season begins, with a Sept. 29 bout at No. 19 Oregon looming close on the horizon. “We just gotta go out there (against Louisiana Tech) and play the kind of game we can play,” Hawkins said. “I think guys are a lot more ready this week.”