It was a surreal scene after Saturday’s game. The media was instructed to wait for coach Jeff Tedford and players in a designated area. Little did we know it was within earshot of the Cal locker room. We found out soon enough when we suddenly started hearing shouting nearby. It was Tedford, giving his team a tongue-lashing.
I’ve never been privvy before to the dynamics of Cal’s locker room after a game. But my guess is Tedford usually isn’t as demonstrative as he was Saturday. He lit into his team, taking the blame himself and imploring his players not to let this happen again.
As a coach, Tedford seems to be more concerned with the technical side of the game than the emotional side of it. Not that there is anything wrong with that or one way is better than the other. That’s just his style. There have been times during Cal’s struggles in the second half of the season where Tedford has been asked if the team needs more vocal leaders, or if it needs some players to start playing more angry, etc. Tedford hasn’t seemed to concerned with such elements. He’s simply said that’s not the personality of his players. He believes that if the players executed technique and the game plan better, there wouldn’t be as much need for that other stuff.
That’s why I thought it was so eventful that Tedford displayed such emotion after Saturday’s game. We’ll see how the players respond to it. Obviously, there’s not much season left now. Some believe that perhaps Tedford or his players should have gotten angry earlier. Maybe the Bears needed a loss as ugly as Saturday’s to finally get mad.
Obviously, it wasn’t the defense’s finest hour. It’s one thing to play poorly. It’s another to be physically manhandled by an opponent, especially one that hasn’t demonstrated that it can be that dominant at other times during the season. It certainly was an uninspiring performance, and a little surprising too because it seemed like the defense actually had been improving in the past two games.
Cal held its usual short conditioning workout Sunday night. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory called the mood “somber.” Gregory obviously was incredibly disappointed with Saturday’s effort. He said he was “shocked” by his unit’s performance and said it was a “meltdown” in every phase imaginable. I’ll have more on Gregory and the defense in Tuesday’s paper.
Tedford talked to his players about who they are, what statement do they want to make as the season ends, etc. He said the last one or two games will be a chance to show what this 2007 team is made of. In most bye weeks, the younger players get a lot of the reps. Tedford said that won’t be the case this week, that guys who play will continue to get most of the reps.
Tedford said wide receiver DeSean Jackson and running back Justin Forsett won’t do much this week. Jackson suffered a thigh contusion Saturday and Forsett’s ankle flared up again late in the game. Forsett has been battling that ankle injury all year long.
Don’t be surprised if freshman Jahvid Best is shut down for the rest of the year. Best missed Saturday’s game with a hip injury and is on crutches. Cal still doesn’t have a definitive diagnosis. Best has undergone multiple tests and they are being evaluated. But usually when guys get tests and it takes a while to determine the diagnosis, it’s not good news. Best is arguably the most important player to Cal’s future, so you can bet the coaching and training staff will be cautious with him.