BY Steven Dunst
Not surprisingly, Cal football coach Jeff Tedford is one person who said he is completely unaffected by the Bears’ new No. 3 ranking. “It really makes no difference in my mind whether we’re 10th or sixth or anything,” he said. “We’re not worried about what else is happening. It doesn’t mean anything to me.” He also does not think the Cal players will change their approach or mentality because of the increased exposure. “This really isn’t anything new for us,” Tedford said. “I don’t get a feeling of giddiness or anything. It doesn’t have any bearings on how we prepare.” Center Alex Mack admitted that the players take note of the rankings and are encouraged by their lofty status, but agreed with Tedford that a ranking really does not change anything in the day-to-day mentality of the team.
“It’s very cool, it’s nice to see people watching us,” Mack said. “But it’s not even halfway through the season. Nothing’s really changed. We still have to go to practice today and get better.” Tedford did acknowledge, however, that a lot of potential recruits pay close attention to rankings, and the current jump will make his recruiting job a little bit easier.
“When you have the national attention of being highly ranked, recruits notice. I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t have an affect on that,” Tedford said.
• Quarterback Nate Longshore injured his ankle in the second half of last Saturday’s 31-24 win over Oregon. Although he returned later in the game and did not miss much playing time, he was noticeably uncomfortable getting support from the ankle. Tedford said that the prognosis is a high ankle sprain and that the x-rays did come up negative. Longshore will spend much of this week in the training room rehabbing the ankle and focusing on getting healthy. He will spend some time in the pool for cardio workouts. One consequence of the injury and the bye week is that backup quarterback Kevin Riley is expected to receive a majority of the snaps in practice this week, with Bryan Van Meter and Brock Mansion also getting some reps. Riley stepped in for Longshore last Saturday while Longshore nursed his ankle injury, but did not throw any passes. “He didn’t look scared,” said Tedford of the freshman Riley’s performance. “He looked like, OK, what’s the play?” Tedford shot down the idea that Riley would have tried to convince him to let him make a throw against the Ducks. “He’s not in a lobbying position,” Tedford said with a laugh, eluding to Riley’s inexperience and backup role.
• Both Tedford and Mack said that the plane ride back after Saturday’s big win was surprisingly quiet. While Tedford attributed the calm atmosphere to the grueling game, Mack had a different interpretation of the events. “It was the best after-game celebration since I’ve been here,” Mack said. “We were fired up. We were really loud immediately after the game, so that tired us out I think.”
• With his 11 catches, 161 yards receiving and two touchdowns, wideout DeSean Jackson reemerged as a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy after two lackluster performances in wins over Arizona and Louisiana Tech. Jackson more than doubled his yards receiving for the year, and Tedford said his injured thumb did not give him any problems. Mack said that the entire team is pulling for Jackson—now third in ESPN.com’s Heisman poll—to win the honor. “The more publicity our team can get the better,” Mack said. “We’re definitely going to do our part to protect Nate so he can throw it.” Mack said, however, that he personally will not be much help to Jackson on his punt returns.
“If he just takes punt returns back all the time, I can’t do much about that.”
• When the Pac-10 initially decided to switch to a 12-game schedule, the Bears were set to face Washington this upcoming Saturday. But Tedford said Athletic Director Sandy Barbour had the foresight to call the Huskies and arrange to reschedule the game for Nov. 17 so that Cal could get a much-needed bye week during mid-season. “This bye falls at a perfect time for us,” Tedford said. “Sandy reminded me the other day, ‘When you’re going to Seattle in November don’t be complaining about (the cold).’”