Cal held its weekly luncheon Tuesday, and the best way I could sum up the players’ attitude is motivated.
Sure, the Bears are a bit down after back-to-back losses, but I think they’re also a bit angry, and ready to take that out on their next opponent. Guard Brian De La Puente said “hungry” was the best way to describe the mood of the team.
The players present Tuesday all talked about the fact that the Rose Bowl was still possible. That was a far cry from immediately after Saturday’s loss, when some of the players seemed almost ready to write off the season. Not in a way in which they would stop trying, but they seemed almost resigned to the fact that they weren’t going to the BCS title game or the Rose Bowl.
Surely, the BCS title game is out. But the Bears could still make it to the Rose Bowl. It would take a handful of different things happening, but it’s not totally out of the question. Let’s not forget that Cal shared the Pac-10 title last season with two losses. The major difference is there are more teams in the running this year.
But the possibility of still going to the Rose Bowl seemed to rejuvenate the team. Wide receiver Robert Jordan said he took it up on himself to make sure his teammates understood there is still a lot to play for this season. Jordan said he probably would be back this Saturday after missing last week with a sprained shoulder. Jordan currently is tied with Brian Treggs for the Cal record for most consecutive games with a catch (36).
Jordan and De La Puente all but guaranteed the Bears would beat Arizona State this weekend. “Everything will be all right, and we’ll beat Arizona State,” Jordan said. “We’re going to come back and get this one this weekend,” De La Puente said.
Jeff Tedford was especially candid Tuesday. He admitted he hasn’t slept much the past few nights second-guessing some of his own play calls. He said the reason he called two running plays on the final drive before Nate Longshore’s costly interception was because of the defense UCLA was in. He said he thought the play he called would wind up as a big gain, but UCLA’s defensive end simply made a good individual play to break it up.
Tedford said he also stuck with the running game because of the success Cal has had all season running the ball. He said even though UCLA’s defense was doing a good job slowing down the Bears’ running attack, he always thought that next play was going to be a big one.