Monday, December 21, 2009

SF Chronicle: Utah, Bears' assistant no strangers

Ron Kroichick


Many times over many college football seasons, Andy Ludwig has planted himself in front of a screen to analyze an upcoming opponent. It often becomes a blur of faceless jersey numbers and nameless defenders.  Not this time. Ludwig, as Cal's offensive coordinator, finds himself poring over video of Utah, the Bears' opponent in Wednesday night's Poinsettia Bowl. Ludwig worked as the offensive coordinator at Utah the past four seasons, helping the Utes win 13 games (including the Sugar Bowl) in the 2008 season.

"Usually, you're just looking at positions and numbers," he said. "Now when I look at tape, I look at positions and numbers, but I also know every guy's name and every guy's story. So it's a little bit different."   Ludwig fills a curious role as the Bears (8-4) try to end their topsy-turvy season on a positive note. He obviously knows Utah's personnel well, so he can offer insight on playing styles and tendencies. Then again, Utah's coaches know Ludwig well, probably giving them some insight into Cal's offense.  Even so, Ludwig really hasn't tinkered much with head coach Jeff Tedford's system - though Tedford gives him more freedom than previous Cal coordinators had. The Bears frequently run the two-back set Tedford favors, but Ludwig has added spread-formation elements and introduced more plays in the so-called Wildcat, with a snap to the tailback.  The Wildcat produced some nice gains earlier in the season, but it became less effective as Cal's opponents came to expect it.  "Some of those things can dry up, and I think you'll see defenses are catching up with it a little bit throughout football," Ludwig said. "You saw some of that with us. Early on, it was hot, then it got a little less so."

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