Tyrone Willingham spoke on Tuesday about trying to build a football team and he sounded somewhat like Jeff Tedford that first year when Tedford was trying to change attitudes and implement a system. It hasn’t turned around as fast for Willingham, but he is making some positive strides and might have reached a bowl this season if not for the injury to quarterback Isaiah Stanback. Willingham said the words “confidence” and “belief” many times and those were echoed by Tedford often those first couple seasons. Actually, the most often spoken word around Cal’s campus these days is trust. You see such a difference when the players trust their coaches. That has been the case at Cal under Tedford. Whether Willingham can capture his players’ trust remains to be seen, but he appears to be turning the corner. When players trust the direction of the program, they are more willing to do all the little things it takes to win. They also police themselves. “Life is so much about developing good habits,” Willingham said.”We have some steps we have to continue to take.”
You have to feel for a guy like Stanback, who had come so far in terms of becoming a more complete quarterback. “Tim Lappano (former Cal assistant) did such a wonderful job with him,” Willingham said. “It was exciting to see his growth.”
Willingham said he was looking into ways to keep Stanback involved this season.
Coach Tedford was asked about his team falling a spot in the AP rankings and being ranked No. 10 in the BCS. “We’ve been down this road before,” he said. “It is important to us that we focus on each and every week. (The rankings) only matter at the end of the season.”
I asked Tedford which Cal players are developing quickly behind the scenes. He said linebacker Michael Mohamed has looked exceptional along with Charles Amadi, Chris Guarnero and James Montgomery.
I also asked him about the development of tight end Cameron Morrah, who has had a hard time getting snaps. Tedford said he is excited about Morrah’s growth, but that he has to get a little stronger at the point of attack.
Nate Longshore said that Washington has some defensive schemes that are somewhat similar to those used by Cal. He said the Huskies will try to confuse him. That being said, Longshore said he hasn’t had to change many plays at the line of scrimmage this season. He said most of Cal’s called plays change after the snap as offensive players react to the defense. That’s what it is so important that the quarterback and wide receivers are on the same page. So far, so good.
“The coaches do a great job knowing what to expect,” Longshore said.
Linebacker Zack Follett said that Washington defensive backs coach J.D. Williams, who switched this season from Cal, was the reason to signed with the Bears. He said a story came out in the local paper that he was going to Oregon. Williams went to Clovis, pulled him out of class and talked him into going to Cal.