Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Daily Cal: Bye Week Allows Cal to Rest Injuries on Offense; Follett Set for Return

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Longshore Probable as Bears Look to Record First Home Victory Against Oregon State Since 1997

BY Steffi Chen and Gerald Nicdao

The bye week seems to have come at a good time for the No. 2 Cal football team.   Many of the Bears’ injured players have been able to recuperate in preparation for Saturday’s 4 p.m. stint against Oregon State at Memorial Stadium.  Headlining the returners is linebacker Zack Follett, who hasn’t played since injuring his neck at Colorado State on Sept. 8.  “The guys who have filled in have done a nice job, but Zack brings something special, flying around the field, coming off the edge on the pass rush, things like that,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “It’ll be nice to have him get back out there running around.”  Tailback Justin Forsett and wide receiver DeSean Jackson are also improved. Tedford said Tuesday that Forsett, who has been nursing a sore ankle since the week before the Arizona game, is looking better.  As for Jackson, who didn’t seem to be hampered by his sprained thumb after a 161-yard, two-touchdown performance against Oregon, Tedford has no worries.  “DeSean’s fine,” Tedford said. “His thumb is a little swollen still, a little sore, but it hasn’t hindered him catching the football at all.”

Quarterback Nate Longshore, who suffered a sprained right ankle in the fourth quarter of the contest against the Ducks, has been throwing the ball in practice and should play Saturday.  “He’s throwing the ball, keeping his arm alive, doing things in drills,” Tedford said. “He wore his pads out on Sunday and threw the ball around a little bit. We’ll see how he progresses through the week.”  Defensive end Rulon Davis (sprained foot) and kicker Tom Schneider are still out. Fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou (partially torn posterior cruciate ligament) is day to day.  The last time the Bears notched a home victory against the Beavers was in 1997, when most of the players were still in grade school.  The Beavers have won the last three meetings at Memorial Stadium, including a 23-20 victory in 2005—the last time the two teams met in Berkeley.  “For me personally, I’ve only lost to them once, and that was enough,” linebacker Worrell Williams said. “They pretty much embarrassed us.”  Tedford wasn't too specific about what his team didn't do in the loss.

“You need to make plays in the passing game ... and you need to establish a running game,” Tedford said, pausing and then breaking into a grin. “It’s football—first downs, points, all those things.”  Even after ascending to the No. 2 ranking this weekend, not having defeated the Beavers at home has struck a chord, especially for the seniors.  “I’d really like to stick it to them at home and go out in my senior year with a win against them here,” linebacker Greg Van Hoesen said.  While most of the players knew within seconds of Stanford’s historic upset of then-No. 2 USC, one player did not know until Sunday.  Offensive tackle Mike Tepper spent his weekend camping in Mendocino, Calif., for one of his education classes.

“I got away from football and had zero contact with football Saturday,” he said. “I had no idea about USC until about Sunday midday.”  And how did Tepper find out that Cal was going to be No. 2 in the country?  “We were on this gravel road driving and I got a hint of reception on my phone and then my phone lit up with 30 text messages saying ‘(USC) had lost,’” he said. “I was like, oh my god, that’s ridiculous.”   During the bye week, redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Riley took snaps with the first team offense as Longshore took the week off to rest his sprained ankle.  If Longshore is not ready Saturday, Riley will start in his stead.  “He’s earned his spot,” Tepper said. “I feel that he can step up to the occasion if we need him. I expect him to do fine.”  Riley did get some game time experience against Oregon two weeks ago—handing the ball off to Forsett twice.

“His two reps in Oregon worked pretty well,” Tepper said.  Riley has done fine in practice, filling in for the injured Longshore.  “I didn’t even notice the difference,” wideout Lavelle Hawkins said.


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