It’s very obvious that the coaching staff has talked at length to the players about treating Saturday’s game like any other. Perhaps the feeling is that everyone was a bit too keyed up for Tennessee and that was a reason the team fell flat.
In reality, I doubt that it mattered. The practices leading up to Tennessee were sharp and focused. I think the loss had a lot more to do with trying to open the season at a national power under terrible, loud conditions for a visitor with a new offense, new quarterback and a rebuilt offensive line. If things had clicked for Cal offensively in the first half of that game, it would have gone down to the wire.
Moving on to Oregon, everything is being kept low key. Rover Brandon Hampton stopped by the press luncheon and admitted that while none of the players are talking about being all jacked up about the game, it goes without saying they understand the importance.
Several of the Bears who came by the press conference talked about confidence and that about sums it up. Funny, in a phone conversation with Oregon tailback Jonathan Stewart, he said, “Confidence, that’s what football is all about.”
You have two very confident teams squaring off. The difference might be the team that can shake the other team’s confidence early, make them wonder, ‘What the heck is going on?”
In looking at the game, I see Cal as having the run offense to make the Ducks scratch their heads. It can really hurt at times if a team can pound the ball successfully down an opponent’s throat. I kind of wonder if Mike Dunbar, who has been doing a great job spreading the ball around, has that “take away their will” mentality that Jeff Tedford has shown at times. That kind of mentality sometimes can take patience. And bottom line is that things are going so well anyway through the air.
Definitely, though, the ability to pound would make a statement.
I asked Nate Longshore if he was sore after taking some big shots last Saturday. He just laughed and said, “I’ve got plenty of pads on.” He is having fun and it is evident.
Mike Bellotti, whom I believe is a great coach, talked about using his no huddle offense at times and made it clear that he didn’t think the tactic would be all that useful against Cal, although it appears he will use it at times. Wonder if he is just saying that or if he is serious. But I think he doesn’t see the no huddle as a way to keep Cal’s personnel from being shuffled into the lineup. It will be interesting to watch.
Lavelle Hawkins came to the luncheon and talked about he spent his summer learning to take the right amount of steps on his route. “Coach Tedford likes everything perfect,” he said. His routes were a bit off last season, annoying the boss and keeping Hawkins from realizing his potential. That is changing this season.
Only about 5,000 tickets remain for the game and I hope the University makes a drive to sell out the game. Perhaps some added promotions or ads. You only get so many opportunities to make a huge impression and this is one.