Monday, September 24, 2007

Oregonian: Sleepless Tedford to count Ducks

Expect California coach Jeff Tedford to spend a long week in his lair inside Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, poring over scouting reports, peering at video and trying to plug leaks as he prepares for the No. 6 Golden Bears' game this week at No. 11 Oregon.  Cal is 4-0, 1-0 in the Pacific-10 Conference, but the Bears will bring a shaky defense, a long injury list and a disturbing penalty problem when they come north to Autzen Stadium.  Perhaps an even greater concern for Tedford is his team's tendency to give up big leads in the second half. It hasn't cost the Bears so far, but they can't afford to lose focus against the explosive Ducks (4-0, 1-0).   Cal held off Arizona 45-27 Saturday, but not before nearly squandering a 38-10 lead.   In fact, "Air Zona" clicked for 17 consecutive points to pull within 11 early in the fourth quarter as the Cal crowd grew antsy. Willie Tuitama, operating the Wildcats' new spread passing attack, threw for 309 yards and set school records with 42 completions and 61 attempts.  It's not the first time something like that has happened. The Bears blew big leads against Tennessee and Colorado State, too.  In the end, Cal got its running game going when injured tailback Justin Forsett re-entered the lineup. That allowed the Bears to control the ball and regain both the tempo and the momentum from Arizona.  Forsett's condition will be a topic of conversation all week. He originally exited the Arizona game late in the second quarter because of a tweaked ankle and a quadriceps bruise. He returned in the fourth quarter, after backup James Montgomery's fumble.  Wide receiver DeSean Jackson told reporters he sought out Forsett on the sideline.

"I told him to go to coach and let him know he was ready," Jackson said. "It's crucial having him in the backfield."  At 100 percent, the 5-foot-8, 186-pound senior is tough to handle, running behind Cal's big, zone-blocking offensive line. Forsett has excellent vision, instant acceleration and surprising power -- exactly what the soft, UO run defense doesn't need.  If he's hobbled, it's advantage Oregon, because Cal's offense is most effective when it's in balance, and this figures to be a shootout.  Cal has other injury problems. The explosive Jackson hasn't been big factor in the Bears' passing game since spraining his left thumb in the opener against Tennessee.  Three starters -- defensive tackle Matt Malele (foot), defensive end Rulon Davis (foot) and linebacker Zack Follett (neck) -- missed the Arizona game.  Surprisingly, for a Tedford-coached team, Cal committed 14 penalties for 121 yards against the Wildcats. For the season, the Bears are averaging 70.7 penalty yards per game. Last season, they averaged 49.3.  It adds up to a long week for Tedford, who rarely leaves the stadium during the season. He eats and sleeps in his office.  This week, he might sleep a little less.


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