By Jonathan Okanes
Sunday, September 20th, 2009 at 10:00 pm in Mid-week.
It had only been a little over 24 hours after their win over Minnesota yesterday, but the Bears were completely focused on Oregon on Sunday night. There’s always something a little extra when Pac-10 play begins, and that is augmented when you have to start conference play at Autzen Stadium.
Cal won’t be playing Oregon with wide receiver Nyan Boateng. He will have surgery tomorrow on his fractured right foot and be out 4-6 weeks.
As they have done off and on this season, Cal’s chant during post-practice stretching consisted of one player yelling “Pac-10 champs!” and the team responding “That’s us!” Linebacker Eddie Young then gave an inspirational talk to his teammates. He said he’s the one who initiated that chant during the summer, and now it is time “to be about it, not talk about it.”
During our talk with Jeff Tedford tonight, he said he was very happy about his decision to travel the team to Minneapolis on Thursday. But he said it wasn’t because of the effect it had on his players’ sleep patterns, but because the team didn’t feel so rushed to play the game.
Last year at Maryland, all the team had time to do was have a walkthrough Friday night, eat dinner, have meetings and go to sleep. They woke up in the morning and it was time for the game. This year at Minnesota, they had all day Friday to help ease into kickoff. The team spent part of Friday at the famous Mall of America in Minneapolis, and Tedford said the players had good focus during meetings on Friday.
“I do feel like it helped, for different reasons than people think,” he said. “People think that you are tired when you get up that early in the morning. That’s not so much it. I think we didn’t feel so rushed. That was more relaxing. It wasn’t the sleep patterns. I did really like it that we were there in plenty of time.
“I like this schedule a lot, and I think our kids handled it well. They were focused in our meetings, and they had time to relax. If we had to do it over again, I would do the same thing.”
–Tedford said Vince D’Amato will be the starter handling kickoffs this week, unless “something happens throughout the week.” Kickoffs are going to start getting even more emphasis. The kickers actually practiced today, which is not usually the norm. Tedford said D’Amato will get a lot of reps this week to help improve his confidence.
–Tedford said that all tight end Skylar Curran suffered was a bruise Saturday and is fine for this week’s game.
–By now, most of you have probably seen that Cal moved up two spots to No. 6 in the Associated Press top 25. USC dropped to 12th and Washington moved into the rankings at No. 24.