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Bowl mode

The Bears are on a bowl schedule now, meaning they will practice only intermittently for the next few weeks. They are off all this week until Friday.

Coach Jeff Tedford did address the media Monday and much of the discussion focused on quarterback Nate Longshore (seems to be a trend). Tedford revealed that not only has Longshore been bothered by a sprained ankle, but there is a chip in the back of that ankle as well. Tedford went on to reiterate what he has said all year, that although the injury may have an effect on Longshore’s mobility, it’s not enough to knock him out of the lineup because of his intangibles and grasp of the offense.

Until they get to Fort Worth on Dec. 27, Cal’s practices will be a lot like bye weeks. The younger players will get most of the reps. This is one of the major advantages of playing in a bowl game. The team gets a bunch of extra practice time that enables them not only to prepare for the game, but look ahead to next season as well.

Once the Bears get to Fort Worth, they will resume normal practices with the first team and second team taking reps together and implementing the game plan.

I didn’t go to the team’s year-end banquet on Monday, but I am kind of wondering what the vibe was like. Here, less than 24 hours after the disappointing end to the season at Stanford, they all got together to talk about all the positives from the season. Don’t get me wrong, there still are some things worth celebrating for the Bears, but I imagine it must have been hard to really put things like that in perspective after closing out the season so dreadfully.

Speaking of the banquet, no real surprises to the year-end awards. Justin Forsett was the offensive MVP and Thomas DeCoud the defensive MVP. Forsett was a slam dunk. Defensively, I thought it also may have gone to Zack Follett or Anthony Felder. But DeCoud has been steady all season and ended up leading the team in tackles (not that the Bears want their free safety having the most tackles, of course)

A glimpse into the future: Scout Team Player of the Year honors went to offensive lineman Sam DeMartinis, wide receiver Michael Calvin, safety D.J. Campbell, linebacker D.J. Holt and fullback John Tyndall.

It was also good to see the Pac-10 coaches recognize the efforts of freshman Jahvid Best on special teams. Best may be the best special teams player I have ever seen, which is saying something considering he never had to do such things in high school. His speed obviously is an asset as a gunner on kicks, but he also is such a sure-handed tackler, again something he wasn’t required to do on the prep level. Best was voted All-Pac-10 first team as a special teams player. I would hazard to guess not too many true freshman earn that honor.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Big D

    Wow! Best is an All PAC-10 Special Teamer? Not FRESHMAN all Pac-10, but the Senior-Freshman All Pac-10? Wow, that is impressive!

  • Cal Fan

    JO, great post as always. It would be great if you could comment on whether you believe there is any truth to the rumors (see Bear Insider message boards) that Cal’s esprit de corps is unravelling (guys leaving practice, not putting forth a full effort, bad mouthing Nate, speculation DJ is partly to blame). As you may be aware, these rumors have been given some credence by the quotes you posted from Gibson and Hampton…and your reporting regarding the toungue lashing JT gave the gave the team after the Washington debacle. Supposedly, JT is going to disclose to the Chronicle after the season is over some of the reasoning behind the Washington situation (not sure I understand the logic here).

  • Cal Fan

    From Bear Insider:

    “But as easy as it is to place the blame on Longshore, Cal as a team should have never been in a situation like that against Stanford. There must be something more. There isn’t one thing that can explain a free fall of this magnitude in a team sport like football. One cannot be positive of the reasons this team has underachieved. There is too much information kept in-house. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own suspicions.

    I will not name players because all my information is not direct. Plus, Tedford states that he will disclose details of his tirade after the Washington game — a game where it was apparent that many players quit — after the season in a Chronicle Article. The following are RUMORS and should be treated as such. If any of this is true, it will be hard for names not to get out eventually.

    I have heard the same type of information from different sources that I trust– people that have no contact with each other — that there are talks of a dysfunctional locker room. No surprise here. It is obvious that some of the team has quit on Tedford this season. But it seems to be much worse then what any fan could have imagined. There are rumors of selfish players leaving practice when they feel like it, not suiting up for team walk-through like the rest of the team, and even not showing up for practice — basically insubordination. Reading quotes from players only reinforce this thought. Brandon Hampton talks of it as well as Mike Gibson in CC Times Cal beat writer Okanes’ blog article. From what I’ve heard, this parasitic attitude has rubbed off on other players as weeks passed and losses accumulated to the point where Tedford had to set an example to the team.”

  • MattC

    Throwing interceptions in the 4th quarter is an intangible?

    I’m not sure how much question-and-answer there is in conferences with Tedford, or how much people can/want to press on him, but I hope someone takes him to task and asks him flat out how he felt Longshore could be left in there for entire games when he was obviously falling apart in the 4th quarters. It would’ve been one thing if he kept Longshore in for the half or even three quarters and brought in Riley as relief, but all four quarters was just silly.

  • Robert

    JO, I agree with Cal Fan. There are A LOT of rumors out about a terrible locker room. I would be interested in your take. Also, Tedford playing a hurt Longshore is ridiculous. Who cares if the doctors cleared him!!! Follet was cleared with his neck stinger, but he still did not feel right. Maybe a bigger question is why these players are getting “cleared” and why Tedford plays them when he acknowledges that in Nate’s case it affected what he did on the field. Sounds pretty irresponsible of Tedford!

  • Mark Johnson

    The biggest issue that came up at this latest Press Conference was the fact that Coach Tedford admitted that Nate Longshore has been ailing from bone-chips floating around in the back of his ankle . . .

    The fact that Tedford has been so loyal to Nate Longshore throughout this season even when his 4th quarter performance has dropped off to the lowest QB rating of any Cal QB in recent years under Tedford must be considered as a key factor in the way that the Bears seemed to “give-up” during the last several games of the season. In my opinion, continuing to start an injured QB has done nothing but demoralize the entire Golden Bears squad.

    There has been a lack of leadership on this team, and when Cal ran into a bit of adversity after the UCLA game, there weren’t any players to pull the kids together and help them stay focused. When this happens, the team will usually turn to their coach for guidance and leadership. Given that Coach Tedford continued to start an injured QB ( that had much more wrong with him than simply a high ankle sprain ), one can only wonder if the TEAM lost confidence in their coach.

    It certainly goes to answering some of the questions as to why this TEAM went into the “tank” on both sides of the ball during the second half of the season.

    For example, Cal’s offensive line was #1 in the conference coming into the Big Game at not allowing QB sacks (9) on the season. The next best team at protecting the quarterback was USC at 15. Given the horrendous protection that Nate Longshore received during the “Big Game”, one can only wonder if Cal’s offensive line finally “gave-up” and “mailed-in” their effort, much the same way that the defense did up in Seattle during the UW game.

    Food for thought.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Cal Fan, I’m not sure the team is unraveling as much as there is a problem with leadership. The Bears don’t seem to have any vocal leaders that can circle the wagons when things go bad. Guys do leave practice early once in awhile, but those guys are excused to go attend class. Nobody is simply just walking off the field on their own. I haven’t heard anybody bad-mouth Nate, either. As far as putting for the full effort, that’s a tough one. Practice can get kind of tedious at times as they go through the game plan. It doesn’t seem like guys don’t care during practice, but there also isn’t a whole lot of chatter or “whooping it up,” either. Also, I believe what Tedford said he would disclose was how this season has affected him, personally, and how he has handled it. And it wouldn’t be just to the Chronicle.

    MattC, both Tedford and Longshore have been asked about the fourth quarter thing before. I can’t imagine Tedford would play Longshore for three quarters and sub in Riley for the fourth quarter on a regular basis. That’s basically telling your quarterback you don’t trust him with the game on the line. He’d probably have to make the switch all or nothing. I agree that Nate has had some bad fourth quarters, but also don’t forget that he threw two potential game-tying touchdown passes against Stanford that were dropped by Hawkins. Nate has basically said that he’s trying to do too much in the fourth quarter.

    Mark, before we lose our minds over the chipped bone, we have to ask ourselves how much more of a difference does that make over a sprained ankle? I’m not a doctor so I’m not totally sure. But as I pointed out in an email to another fan, I thought Longshore looked pretty good against Washington, and he supposedly had the chipped bone then, too.

    Thanks for all the comments, folks.

    Jonathan

  • Media Critic

    Jonathan,

    Why are you so adamant to continue this cover up? Tedford played a clearly injured QB over an athletically superior athlete who is fully healthy.

    Tedford lost his team because he lied and put his interests above the rest. You too will lose your readership if you don’t take off the kid gloves and finally ask the tough questions! As a reporter your job is to seek the truth, not friends and contacts within the Cal football program. Where is your integrity!?!

  • daedulus07

    “The two receiver set didn’t effect our game plan.” It does when one of them is dropping the ball and when the quarterback is looking at him the whole time. Are you telling me that no player on the Cal squad is capable of playing the third wideout? I’m sure they’re just as capable of dropping passes as LH. The undercurrents on the team have come from other players realizing that no matter how they practice, what the injury situation is, they are not getting into the game.For Tedford to change the offense and work around his injured “stars” has to be a slap in the face to players like Sam DeSa among others. To their credit you haven’t heard anything from them but has disinfranchised a lot of players.

  • Jason Lee

    JO, Thanks for the perspective. Based on how Tedford has handled suspensions, etc. in the past, it is really hard to imagine some of the things that have been posted on bulletin boards (people walking out of practice, not dressing or participating in pre-game activities…).

    On excused absence situation, I wonder how many other programs consistently in the top 25 that have to excuse players to go to class. Most programs schedule their players’ “classes” around practice. It’s another one of the unique things about Cal that we tend to overlook but make it more challenging.

  • Tyler Jacobson

    Cal is averaging 5pts in the second half in each of their losses. Longshore has also managed to single-handedly “throw” away each loss. Granted there are 1000000000 other problems with team….50% of it can be traced to Longshore. He is 100% a zero threat at QB. You can site 3 or 4 examples of “good play” but he has lost his touch, is not a threat to turn a busted play into a postive one, and he is the antithesis of clutch. He was something like 2 for 11 for 10 yards to start the second half.

    Please don’t try and paint this blue and gold….the facts are facts and everyone but Tedford seems to recognize this.

  • MattC

    “That’s basically telling your quarterback you don’t trust him with the game on the line.”

    Which is EXACTLY the case…you can argue whether it’s due to injury (given the bone chip) or Longshore just being anti-clutch (Longshore’s 4th quarter problems go back to 2006; there he just covered it up by getting to huge leads beforehand) but the fact remains that NO ONE should’ve trusted Longshore to play well with the game on the line, as he fell apart in every close game in the 4th quarter after his injury this year.

    I don’t think it would’ve been too far out of the question for Tedford to say “Nate, you’re my guy, but if you play the first three quarters on that bone chip, you’re going to be in such pain for the fourth I need to take you out”. But I think his lack of trust in Riley following the OSU game prevented him from doing that.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Media Critic, all the appropriate questions have already been asked. I’ve written about it more than once. Tedford has been asked more than once about replacing Longshore with Riley, and he continues to say Longshore still gives them the best chance to win. He obviously doesn’t think the injury is hampering him enough to warrant taking him out of the game. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, I’m merely reporting what has been said. That’s my job. To suggest I am covering something up is preposterous.

    07, Tedford did start going to more three-receiver sets in the second half, and he used three receivers a lot against UCLA when Robert Jordan was out. He also used more two-receiver sets against Stanford to help out with pass protection, which was breaking down.

  • Pingback: The California Golden Blogs :: Longshore Has Chipped Ankle & Riley Isn’t Ready :: December :: 2007

  • FedUpBear

    JO, thanks for your reporting this year; you’ve done a terrific job taking over for JH.

  • Arizona Bear

    Jonathan,

    You are gracious for having addressed Media Critic’s post. It was unnecessary, though, since Media Critic’s points are ridiculous. The notion that Tedford lost the team because he lied and put his interests above the rest is completely unsupported, in my view. That there is a some kind of media cover-up and that your integrity is in question is so off base as to be laughable.

    Media Critic is either a troll with an agenda to make trouble or is simply way out of touch with reality.

    Jonathan, keep up the good work and try to ignore the occasional outbursts from the lunatic fringe.

  • CalAlum97

    Yeah J.O., great job this season. It’s hard to step-in, cold, and get all the insider info you bring us without having been around the team and coaches for quite awhile. Keep up the good work. Media Critic, get a life, you don’t know what the h e l l you’re talking about.

  • OakTrib

    Oakland Tribune has a new Sports Spat question:

    WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE LONGSHORE BE THE STARTING QB NEXT SEASON?

    We’re looking for input from REAL Bear fans – send this to your buddies. We’re gonna print letters in the paper Friday Dec. 14.

    Tell us why or why not – give us reasons and support.

    Send to Turn2@angnewspapers.com — IMPORTANT: Include your first/last name and your city.

    Thanks.

    Andy
    Asst. Sports Ed.

  • Big D

    Well, this season is over now. What is done is done. Personally, I don’t agree with Tedford’s decisions this year, however, hopefully this will serve as a learning experience for all. I still support Tedford and expect next year to be better than this one. I don’t know what happened this year, but I assure you that Tedford and his staff will work it out and get back on track. I expect at least one of the assistants to leave for greener pastures. Fort Worth here I come! 7-6 or 6-7? J.O. nice job. BTW what is Jay up to now?

  • Pingback: The California Golden Blogs :: Quarterback Controversy :: January :: 2008