Friday, September 07, 2007

San Jose Mercury News: Line dancing is just the way Cal celebrates

Here is the link.

By Jonathan Okanes

Cal right tackle Mike Tepper was enjoying the 45 points and almost 500 yards of offense the Bears rolled up, but he didn't want the world to know it. Too late. Tepper was in the huddle during a media timeout late in Cal's 45-31 victory over Tennessee on Saturday when he broke out some of his best dance moves. That is, until he looked up and saw himself on Bear Vision. "I got caught," Tepper said. "I was having a great time. I looked up and the (camera) is just staring right at me. I just stopped. I think I waved."  The performance of Tepper and the rest of the offensive line allowed Cal's running backs to dance their way for big gains and gave quarterback Nate Longshore ample time to throw. The line, which was outplayed during a 35-18 season-opening loss at Tennessee last year, dominated the Vols' defensive line this time around.  "If one thing stood out to me more than anything, it was the play of the offensive line," Cal Coach Jeff Tedford said. "When you have a quality line like we have, it can afford you a lot of opportunity to do things. It starts with them."  The Bears lost two starters from last year's offensive line - Andrew Cameron and Erik Robertson - and replaced them with Tepper and Brian De La Puente. Cal returns two All-Pacific-10 performers in center Alex Mack and left tackle Mike Gibson and has a third returning starter in right guard Noris Malele. Plus, De La Puente started three games and Tepper two last season.

So although the complexion of the line is different, it isn't lacking experience. "It wasn't a concern at all," Tedford said. "We have great confidence in our group up front. They are a very talented group. I knew they were good all along."  They proved it Saturday. Cal racked up 471 yards of offense, including 230 on the ground. Justin Forsett rushed for 156 yards, averaging 6 yards per carry. Longshore threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns. The Bears' offense was stagnant last year at Tennessee and gained most of its yardage after the game was out of hand. "Those guys were moving them off the ball," Forsett said of his linemen's performance Saturday. "The first play of the game, I could tell it was going to be something special. I didn't get touched until the secondary. It's amazing to me. And they're going to continue to get better." It's hard to imagine many teams slowing the Bears down, although Cal is expected to face a major test Sept. 22 against Arizona, which has one of the best defenses in the Pac-10. The Bears visit Colorado State on Saturday. "We really started clicking during training camp," Tepper said. "Tennessee was (a way) to see where we stand with the rest of the world. To be completely honest, practice (stinks). You just have to grind and get through them and train to get better. The game is when you break loose and have a bunch of fun. That's when you put everything you've worked at out there to test, and have a great time."


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