Wednesday, September 12, 2007

SF Chronicle: Bears learned they can't let down against anyone

Here is the link.


Rusty Simmons, Chronicle Staff Writer

As Colorado State cut Cal's lead to six points with a two-touchdowns-in-53-seconds flurry and lined up for its second onside kick in the fourth quarter Saturday, Bears receiver Lavelle Hawkins started to get the message:  "I was thinking, 'We do not want to be on ESPN all week for a loss like this,' " Hawkins said. "All I could think was, 'Oh my God, this is not going to happen to us.' " Three days after Cal held off the Rams for a 34-28 win, the message has been fully absorbed. "I think the guys will be a lot more ready to play this week," Hawkins said Tuesday. "Every team is going to be aiming for us. Everybody wants to knock off a ranked team, so we have to play every week." That will be tested at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Memorial Stadium against Louisiana Tech, which doesn't get a lot of respect (331/2-point underdogs) but took ranked Hawaii into overtime before losing 45-44 Saturday.

"They're going to play hard, just like Colorado State did, and we kind of took last week for granted," left tackle Mike Gibson said. "We're going to come out and play a lot harder and faster than we did last week." In an attempt to assure just that, coach Jeff Tedford scheduled practice in full pads Tuesday and today. Last week, the Bears didn't practice in pads those days as they tried to recover from the bangs and bruises endured in the physical 45-31 season-opening win over Tennessee. "It's difficult to come out with the same energy and intensity that we had against Tennessee, but we have to or we'll get knocked off," middle linebacker Worrell Williams said. "Last week was enough of a scare to convince us that we need to come out from the opening kickoff."

To punt or not to punt: Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley is the first opposing coach to wiggle around questions about punting to DeSean Jackson. Both Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and Colorado State's Sonny Lubick said they would punt to the Heisman hopeful, with mixed results.  "Well, we'll find out when we get to game time," Dooley said. "I'll tell you this: If he takes one to the house, everyone will call me a damn fool for punting to him. If there is anyone I wouldn't punt to in the country, certainly it's DeSean." Dooley, who was an assistant to Alabama coach Nick Saban at LSU and for the Miami Dolphins, recruited Jackson out of high school.  "I know DJ very well; I've spent a number of nights in his home," Dooley said. "I think the world of him. He has tremendous energy and personality, and he's a true playmaker."

Earning salutations: Dooley was on the LSU coaching staff when Hawkins played there as a freshman in 2003. "I don't think it's going to put more fire into it, but I've thought about having to make some plays so I can go holler at coach Dooley after the game," Hawkins said.

Breakfast and a movie: Although the players didn't have to start video sessions until Tuesday night, Williams awoke at 6:30 a.m. to get his first look at Louisiana Tech. He came away with one lasting impression. "They're huge," he said. "Their line is about 6-foot-7, 6-8, 6-6, 6-7, 6-8 and 300, 3,000 (pounds) and so on. It's ridiculous. "In the Pac-10, I don't remember seeing any guys that big. We've got guys who are really athletic, but nothing like the size of these guys." In actuality, the Bulldogs average taller than 6-5 and weigh 297.6 pounds across their offensive line.

Blind side: Gibson needed only 10 starts last season for opposing coaches to vote him to the all-conference team, but the ultimate respect came during the offseason, when Cal coaches approached him about moving from right tackle to left. The left tackle is trusted to protect a right-handed quarterback from blind-side rushers. Nate Longshore, who threw for 3,021 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, is right-handed. "It's more of an honor than anything else, playing in Tedford's offense and blocking for Nate," Gibson said. "After the season, you never know where you stand. For them to have that confidence in me, is a great honor."

Playing sidekick: Hawkins loves the current situation with the receiving corps. "DeSean's the man," Hawkins said, although he leads the Bears with 12 catches and 133 yards. "That was by luck. I don't want all of that pressure. Give it to DeSean."

Briefly: Tedford said the X-rays on receiver Robert Jordan's ribs came back negative, and he is day-to-day. Initially, the injury was deemed a kidney problem, which kept Jordan on the sideline for all but two series Saturday, but Tedford anticipates Jordan will play this week. ... Cal announced that its Sept. 22 home game against Arizona will have a 3 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by Versus.

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