Friday, September 07, 2007

SF Chronicle: No. 10 Cal faces bear trap at CSU

Here is the link.

Rusty Simmons

Play-by-play luminary Brent Musburger didn't mince words. During Saturday's ABC broadcast of Cal's 45-31 win over Tennessee, he called this week's date at Colorado State a potential "trap game."  As clear as it was last week that the Bears sought "redemption" against the Vols, it's just as unmistakable that the Rams seek "respect" this week. The "trap" portion will enter the scenario if Colorado State proves to have the players and coaching to match its goals against the players and coaching that Cal used last week to make its national statement. The No. 10 Bears are scheduled to play the Rams at 11 a.m. Saturday in Fort Collins, Colo. "Everybody would forget about a lot of things if (we won)," Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick said. "A win like this would be immensely great for our student body and the entire program." That is more than hyperbole from Lubick, who has seen it all while building the program's winningest coaching resume over 14 seasons. He's so respected in the community that the playing surface at Hughes Stadium has been named Sonny Lubick Field.

The Rams have 20 returning starters, more than any other team under Lubick, and they played toe-to-toe with Colorado in a 31-28 overtime loss in Week 1. The veteran group has decided to lose the names on the backs of their jerseys in an attempt to play for the school's name on the front, and this week's game will be played in throwback uniforms in celebration of the 50th anniversary of switching from Colorado A&M to Colorado State. Running back Kyle Bell returned from a year missed with a knee injury to run an opening-week high 40 times that resulted in 135 yards and a score. Tight end Kory Sperry caught eight passes for 103 yards and three touchdowns, and he was named national tight end of the week. "They have a lot of veteran guys ... they have a really good tight end and a tough running back who doesn't go down on first contact," Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. "They're a hard-nosed, Sonny Lubick team." The defense is a little basic, but it's no joke either. The group was in the top 60 nationally in yards allowed last season and was in the top third in the country the year before.

The unit returns a defensive line that has accumulated 83 career starts and is led by De La Salle High-Concord grad Erik Sandie. The secondary also returns all four starters, a group that has combined for 55 collegiate starts. "They know what they're doing, and you know you're going to be in a fistfight with them," Cal offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik said. "They're going to run around and try to hit you." That's the most recent image of Colorado State, and its history of six conference titles under Lubick speaks for itself. Plus, in 2003, the Rams won 23-21 at Berkeley after losing their opener to Colorado by a touchdown.  The current trends, however, are also undeniable.

-- Eight straight losses, dating back to Oct. 7, 2006.

-- No wins over a ranked team since knocking off Colorado 19-14 in 2002.

-- A 1-7 record against the last eight opponents ranked in the Top 10.

"We know the history and we know the now," Cal cornerback Brandon Hampton said Tuesday. "Nothing is going to stop us from preparing. I've already watched their game against Colorado six times."  He didn't see a "trap" anywhere.

Briefly: With kicker Tom Schneider (quad) listed as doubtful, Jordan Kay will do the majority of the placekicking Saturday. If the kick is outside of 45 yards, Cal coach Jeff Tedford said punter Andrew Larson will take the kick. ... Tedford said starting defensive tackle Mika Kane (concussion) will not make the trip. Cody Jones has taken most of the first-team reps this week, and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Derrick Hill (back) should see playing time, according to Tedford. ... Defensive backs coach R. Todd Littlejohn said safety Bernard Hicks (hip) is being challenged for the starting job by Marcus Ezeff, who had six tackles, including 1 1/2 for losses, against Tennessee.


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