Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shreveport Times: Cal's offense to test Tech's defense

By Jimmy Watson

While the Louisiana Tech defense was saddled with stopping Hawaii's one-dimensional offensive attack last week, they won't get the same reprieve this week against No. 8 California.  The Bears are good in all phases of the game, including at running back where three players are likely to see playing time. "That's why it's important to have depth at that position," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "It's a physical position and there's time where you're going to need to draw on three to four running backs and it's nice to be able to have that luxury ... to have quality depth at that position." California (2-0) will host the Bulldogs (1-1) at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday in California Memorial Stadium. The Bears are coming off a 34-28 win over Colorado State, while Tech was losing 45-44 in overtime to then No. 20 Hawaii.

Leading ground attack for the Bears is tailback Justin Forsett, who rang up 156 yards on 26 carries in the season opener against Tennessee and who is averaging 6.27 yards per carry for his career. "Cal will be a huge challenge because they have some great runners. They're physical and we have to be able to stop the run," Tech coach Derek Dooley said. "And we have to stop the big plays on play action because they have some tremendous, explosive wideouts." Tedford said that Forsett is proving his doubters wrong with his performance week in and week out. "He's as solid as they come. He's a great back and he's physical," Tedford said. "I think a lot of people had questions, 'how physical is Justin,' because he's short. But Justin's very physical, he has great balance, he runs hard, so he's a great, great tailback." The defensive scheme for the Bulldogs this week will be dramatically different from the Hawaii game. The Warriors ran the ball just a handful of times. "You saw Hawaii run it one time and they gained 50 yards, but it just kills June (Jones) to do that, so they'll keep throwing it," Dooley said. "And I don't blame him, 'cause they're good at it."

With Cal having explosive wideouts, in addition to a threatening running back, Dooley and staff have had to adjust. "Our scheme will certainly be much different than we did against Colt (Brennan), because if we do some of the same things we did against Colt, they run for 6,000 yards," Dooley said. The Bears also have a Heisman Trophy candidate in DeSean Jackson, who has two touchdowns of 70-plus yards in two games, and a senior speedster at wide receiver in Lavelle Hawkins, who has caught 12 passes for 133 yards in two games. Tedford is just pleased to have a lot of weapons. "Very few of our plays, very few, are saying this ball's definitely going to this guy. It's all depending on read, recognition, route diversion, so on and so forth," Tedford said.


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