Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Contra Costa Times: Cal's personnel doesn't dictate spread offense

By Jay Heater

BERKELEY, Calif. - The rumor about Cal switching to a spread offense turned out to be false.  When Jeff Tedford hired Northwestern offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar, it seemed only a matter of time before the Golden Bears would be filling the air with passes. Seven games into the 2006 season, the spread formation basically is dead. Why? A couple of reasons.

One, Cal is a different football team with tight end Craig Stevens on the field. He is a huge factor who can knock defenders off the line of scrimmage with regularity. His presence makes it tough for opponents to line up linebackers on the edge to attack the quarterback. In the few moments when Cal did switch to a spread formation last Saturday at Washington State, Stevens came off the field and bad things happened. "I always said that we would just work the spread into some of our schemes and our concepts," Tedford said. "I said we would use it when it fits. I never intended for us to be a spread team." It simply has not been a good fit with Cal's personnel. Quarterback Nate Longshore is more of the classic drop-back passer who is most dangerous when given time to operate. Having Stevens in the game is essential to Longshore's comfort level. "I like having Stevens in the game protecting Nate, and he is such a force in our blocking schemes," Tedford said. Stevens' presence has made Cal a punishing team along the line of scrimmage. Cal has had a 100-yard plus rusher in six consecutive games. The Bears are averaging 168.7 rushing yards a game.

Read the entire article here.


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