Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sporting News: No. 10 Cal Intent on Avoiding Letdown

Here is the link.


BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Jeff Tedford should run for president, according to the whooping California fans who interrupted the coach's postgame speech after last Saturday's win over Tennessee.  Yet Tedford knows his candidacy will never get off the ground if the 10th-ranked Golden Bears don't follow up that long-awaited landmark victory with another win at Colorado State.  "The only thing about (beating Tennessee) is that the season has opened up," Tedford said before cocking his head toward the rowdy fans outside Memorial Stadium. "If we're not successful next week, they'll forget about this game."  Cal's decisive 45-31 victory over the Volunteers was a full year in the making. Though the Bears spouted all the usual preseason patter about contending for a national title and winning a Pac-10 championship, their most obvious goal was avenging their embarrassing loss in Knoxville one year earlier.

That mission was accomplished decisively, but it presented Tedford with yet another motivational challenge: Keeping the Bears focused on their first road trip of the season against the always-dangerous Rams, who beat Tedford's 2003 club.  "We've already had that talk about what's going to be the biggest question," he said. "I asked everybody on the team, 'Guys, what do you think the big question is going to be exactly?' They all said, 'Letdown.' There's enough leadership that understands last week is over, and this is a whole new week."  Tedford won't have to go far back in the Bears' history to find an example of the perils in this trip. Just last season, their eight-game winning streak ended with a loss to lowly Arizona, preventing Cal from winning the Pac-10 outright and making its first Rose Bowl appearance.  That 24-20 defeat occurred one week before Cal's trip to USC, and some of the Bears acknowledged they might have been looking ahead. Their trip to Colorado State raises the danger of looking behind, but the Bears say they'll be more careful this time.  "We just messed up in Arizona," offensive lineman Mike Tepper said. "I don't know any other way to say it, but it wasn't because the coaches didn't prepare us. We were ready to play, and we'll be ready to play (against Colorado State). It's still early in the season, so we're not looking anywhere but the next game."  Tedford will combat the Bears' potential pitfalls by setting goals for his club, but the coach says getting the ball to DeSean Jackson more often isn't among them.

Jackson's 77-yard TD punt return was the highlight of the Bears' opening weekend, yet the junior receiver caught only four passes for 45 yards -- just two receptions in the final three quarters. Cal has a wealth of talent at the position, so Tedford isn't worried about depending on Jackson, who also had a 21-yard run on a misdirection play.  "There's only one ball, and that's the way it goes," Tedford said. "You just try to get him involved in the game. I thought last game, (the receivers) all had great attitudes. They were great at the end of the game. They all really made contributions to the game, and each week it may be different."  During practice at Memorial Stadium this week, the Bears already seemed to be past their memorable night against the Volunteers.  The defense was hard at work making adjustments after Erik Ainge passed for 271 yards against them, while the offense hoped to keep humming after a 263-yard second half propelled them to victory. Cal finishes its nonconference schedule at home next weekend against Louisiana Tech, but the Bears claimed to be thinking about nothing but Colorado State.  "When you have a national championship on your mind, you have to compete and win every week," safety Brandon Hampton said. "Saturday was great, and we were happy about that, but now we have to prepare for the Rams. We have a new task at hand."


No comments: