By Jonathan Okanes
Friday, August 31st, 2007 at 1:53 pm in Mid-week.
There obviously have been a lot of storylines heading up to tomorrow’s game and a lot has been said. I will cover some of them here.
–Cal went 10-3 last season, crushed Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 14 in the country. So what was the lingering memory from the season? The Bears say the loss to Tennessee.
“We won ten games last season, and the question that gets asked the most is Tennessee,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “Maybe you’ll get an ‘oh, by the way, good job in the bowl game.’ That’s what comes out of last year.
“That’s the worst we’ve ever played, I think. In five years, I don’t ever remember looking up and being down 35-0. We deserved it. We didn’t play very well.”
–Tedford was asked if he gets especially nervous for a game like this. “Every game is the same. I’m a wreck, no matter what,” he said.
–An out-of-town writer asked right tackle Mike Tepper what his impression was of DeSean Jackson when he first arrived at Cal. Jackson came in as a top prospect but isn’t exactly an intimidating physical presence.
“I went on youtube and checked out highlight film, and it kind of proved to me that he’s a really good player,” Tepper said. “Then playing with him, he makes unbelievable catches all the time, even in practice.”
–When Justin Forsett was asked about the nickname he gave to Jahvid Best, “Jahvid the Jet,” he was quick to point out he also nicknamed fellow freshman running back Shane Vereen: “Shane the Train.”
–Forsett said Marshawn Lynch is attending the game tomorrow.
–Wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins is one of the more engaging guys on the team. Earlier this week he lamented the fact that his locker is no longer next to quarterback Nate Longshore’s.
“I”m mad at Coach Tedford. He moved my locker away from Nate,” Hawkins said. “When Nate was next to me, I caught 46 balls.”
Hawkins joked about the depth of the team’s running backs, especially the emergence of freshman Jahvid Best. Hawkins took a few reps at running back during the spring. “Jahvid messed my hopes up,” Hawkins said. “Me and Jahvid have to have a talk because he messed my whole plan up.”
–One of the big questions will be whether Cal’s defensive front can contend with Tennessee’s offensive line. The Bears have only one starter back on their defensive line.
One day during training camp, linebacker Zack Follett got the defense together after watching film of the defensive line getting blown off the ball by the offensive line. “There was no bounce to our steps and we were going through the motions,” he said. “I tried to make the defensive line remember that feeling from Tennessee last year. I told them Tennessee is bigger and stronger than what we were facing and the guys really stepped up.”
–Saturday’s game will feature two of the best punters in the country. Tennessee’s Britton Colquitt is a preseason first team All-American, and Cal’s Andrew Larson isn’t far behind.