By Ron Kroichick
For all the chatter about its cast of seasoned players, Cal will start a reshaped and somewhat untested offensive line Saturday night against Maryland. And the Terrapins apparently plan to furiously fly at these green Bears. The Terps played mostly zone coverage last year, but new defensive coordinator Don Brown prefers man-to-man coverage and relentless pressure. Cal coach Jeff Tedford learned the extent of this radical shift in philosophy after scrutinizing 2008 game tapes of Massachusetts, where Brown was head coach the past five years.
So Tedford expects a dramatically different Terps defense than what the Bears faced on last year's trip to the East Coast, when Cal absorbed a not-nearly-as-close-as-it-sounds, 35-27 defeat. "That's going to pose a huge challenge for us - a big pressure team and a couple of young guys up there on our line," Tedford said Tuesday. Only one player on Cal's starting offensive line, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, was a starter most of last season. Center Chris Guarnero and guards Justin Cheadle (a sophomore) and Matt Summers-Gavin (a redshirt freshman) bring little experience, though left tackle Mike Tepper, injured in 2008, has started 15 games in his career.
Cal also is breaking in a new fullback in Brian Holley, who will need to help if Maryland, as expected, unleashes a torrent of blitzes.