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Football: Tuesday night update

By Jonathan Okanes
Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 at 11:13 pm in Mid-week.

Contrary to popular belief, Cal’s season is not over. The Bears actually put on their practice uniforms and held a practice Tuesday afternoon, despite back-to-back losses that more than likely knocked them out of the Pac-10 race.

Still, the Bears seem committed to getting back on track and playing more like the team they think they can be. Spirits actually seemed pretty good Tuesday, as players raved about the hard work they put in at practice today.

“Today felt different,” nose tackle Derrick Hill said. “It felt like it was time to work. Today was a great day. Seeing that was a wonderful thing. Guys were out here competing and flying around. The whole mentality of the team is different. A few years ago, we probably would have crumbled right now. But right now, we’re a family.”

Cal coach Jeff Tedford understands the urgency of the situation and the need for his team to improve. That’s why he’s handling this bye week differently than most. In most seasons, the players in the regular playing rotation give up the reps to the younger players. In most years, guys like Allan Bridgford and Steve Williams would be getting the bulk of the playing time this week. Not this year. The starters and backups are getting the majority of the reps, with a few sprinkled in for the scout team players.

“We need the work,” Tedford said.

Because it was a big recruiting weekend, Cal also adjusted its schedule slightly. The Bears didn’t have their usual conditioning workout Sunday night. They instead met as a team early Sunday morning and watched the tape of the USC game. They also talked about where they stand.

“We’re 3-2. We still have a winning record and there’s seven games left,” Tedford said. “Even though we haven’t played well the past two weeks, two of the hardest things to do in our conference are play in Eugene and play SC. We just did that. We would have liked to have done better. But we had chances. You get discouraged when you have no chance. We were in the red zone four times. We just have to score. Guys are encouraged.”

Quarterback Kevin Riley looked understandably demoralized after the game Saturday. He still didn’t seem very pleased today after practice. He definitely seems more serious and focused than usual.

“When you miss open guys more than a few times in a game, that can’t happen,” Riley said. “I just have to be a little more patient and make it a catchable ball. I’m trying to keep it away from the defender a little too much and trying to make it perfect. I need to put it where they can make a play on it instead of trying to make a perfect throw every time.”

Riley said the quarterbacks and receivers had a meeting today to talk about “owning routes,” having some routes that they know can get them a completion most of the time.

And Riley may have an old receiver back for the next game. Tedford said wide receiver Nyan Boateng had his boot removed today and could be cleared to practice next week, making him available for the UCLA game.

The Bears will practice Wednesday and Thursday before parting ways for the weekend off. The team will reconvene Sunday night with a full practice as it starts to prepare for UCLA.

“You have to be angry,” Hill said. “You can’t be sad about it but you can be upset about it. Being said is only going to hold you back. Being upset about it is going to give you a reason to come out here and make you work twice as hard as you have been working. People were probably sad Saturday. Sunday we watched the film and got it over with. Now it’s time to be angry and do something about being angry.”

More to come off Tuesday’s practice tomorrow.

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  • abe

    The roses may have to wait for yet another year but if we at least win out, definitely possible but not easy (read Stanford, Washington, to name a few), we are looking at a 10-2 season. Not bad. Speaking of the roses am I the only one whose is a little bit concerned that we might be running out time. I mean surely the BCS (a.k.a. Beauty Contest System) will not last forever. In fact some sort of a play of system could be implemented in as early as 5 to 10 years, either using the bowl games as the playoff setting banishing them all together. Either way the Rose Bowl as we know it, i.e. the bowl game play on Jan 1 between the Pac10 and Big10 champs could be all but extinct in less than a decade. And if that is a reasonable assumption (that the BCS will be over that soon) does anybody see Cal getting back to this coveted prestigious bowl game before that happens?

  • Robert

    I like the change in bye week practices. Good work coach!!

  • rollonubears

    well, if football doesn’t work out for these guys, they certainly have a future in sales.

  • GoldenBear 77

    LA is a good place to start again. I believe we have not beaten UCLA in the Rose Bowl since 1998. My daughter is in her last year there, and I have had to endure two painful UCLA victories in the Rose Bowl in the last 4 years (Maurice Jones Drew scoring two late touchdowns to beat the Bears in 2005, and Longshore to Verner late to beat the Bears in 2007). I will be there cheering.

  • rollonubears

    we should have let them score when we were down 1 and they had first and goal with 1:30 left. we’d have had plenty of time to come back down and score and at least try for 2. instead, tedhead let ucla run the clock all the way down, giving us no chance. that was one of the most diappointing games ever, esp since we had such a huge lead to start. i am starting to get angry about tedhead.

  • GoldenBear 77

    I don’t believe you ever give anyone a score. Just my opinion. The message you send to your players is devastating — we don’t think you can handle it. Even without the “message”, I will bet the odds of stopping a team on a goal line stand (something we have done several times in the Tedford era), are about the same (or maybe greater than) as scoring a touchdown and a 2 point conversion, and then winning in overtime.

  • Eric

    Roll and GB – I disagree about letting other team score quickly, especially when the other team merely needs a FG to win. Washington tied Notre Dame last week because ND scored too quickly and Washington was able to march down the field to get a FG. Last year, Texas Tech beat Texas because Texas scored too quickly. Granted, neither was intentional, but it had the same effect. And in the NFL, Belicheck once intentionally ordered his defense to give up a TD so that his offense coud get the ball back and the Patriots could score to win, which they did.

  • GoldenBear 77

    Eric,

    OK, you can argue the field goal point (although I still can’t see giving away points — just the old codger in me), but in this instance, UCLA had to score, Cal had to score a touchdown, Cal had to make a 2 point conversion, and then Cal had to win it in overtime. Not the same situation. It is similar to Oregon, 2007 in some ways. Some would say we were “lucky”. But leaving aside Ezeff’s incredible hit (which had nothing to do with luck), Oregon had to kick the extra point (they don’t just give you 7 points, you have to earn it), and then win in overtime. With Dixon coughing up 2 interceptions in the last quarter, I for one am not willing to concede that this was a foregone conclusion.

  • Dan

    Abe, Abe, Abe… I LOVE your optimism man, I really do. I, however, have seen enough, too much, from Tedford’s underachieving teams with their confounding, head scratching performances. That’s the whole definition of insanity thing for me.

    This is bad, just like 2007 was, but this feels different- way different, way worse. The absolute meltdown of the past 2 games – NO TDs in 2 games- (how is that even possible with all the weapons and talent Cal has?)- is something worsxe than we have ever seen under Tedford. How is that possible with all the talent he has, all the returning, expereinced talent Cal has. On D, you have these athletes and speed, but you don’t utilize it by being aggressive and forcing the action. Instead, we play the weakest, softest, most clueless zone defense I have ever seen- it is a game long prevent defense. The guys don’t even cover the eligible receivers when they are in their zone coverage area.

    The conference has figured Tedford’s philosophies, strategies, schedmes and play calling out. I have, why wouldn’t they have. Is he too stubborn to take the step back and look in the mirror. A lot of past evidence says yes he is.

    There are issues with the players, a lot of them, but the huge problem is at the top. When that is off or wrong, there is no hope for the players. One question- if Tedford coached SC, how many more games a year would SC lose. One or two? That is the difference between a perennial National Championship contender (like SC) and nice, respectable Pac program (like Cal has been, but may not be now)- SC was what Cal has been under Tedford until Carroll showed up. The Trojan NAtion doesn’t call him “Big Ba!!$ Pete” for nothing. They actually stand up, 90,000+ strong anytime SC has a 4th and short and chant “Big Ba!!$ Pete, Big Ba!!$ Pete!!”.

    Yeah, SC can recruit all that talent, etc, but they were not all that great for many years prior to Carroll. So it is ALL about the coaching and the CEO of the Cal FB program is Tedford. We all heaped and lavished praise on him for all the good things he did, so in turn, he needs to be wholly accountable for this HUGE step back- especially with the talented team he has.

  • Calduke

    Dan – I’m not so sure Tedford has a talented team.
    One or two big ‘names’ does not make a football team.
    The OL is ‘untalented’ and Best can’t get off.

    I have to mention this. The Bears had a ‘trick’ play all set up with the receiver along the sideline. No defender within 15 yards. Riley throws the ball out of bounds. Talent??

  • rollonubears

    the players aren’t having fun out there. it’s too stressful for them. i’m sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that they’re not the best athletes, but when you’re a so-so team, you’ve gotta go in with the attitude of “we’re going to surprise somebody today”, and get excited about the game plan to do just that. now, there’s either no game plan to do just that, or these guys are afraid of failure instead of excited about opportunity. this may go all the way back to why they’re here in the first place. maybe tedford was only able to get these guys because they viewed cal as a “safe” choice. it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the problem. we’re recruiting people just like tedford, while pete carroll is recruiting people like pete carroll. fun, excited, ballsy, aggressive, type-a folks. there’s only one logical solution, if that’s the problem.

  • GoldenBear 77

    Not interested in having CAL like USC. Not interested in Tedford being Pete Carrol.

  • rollonubears

    this is what’s missing. this was 2003.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_fShwQlANc

  • abe

    I beg to differ with the notion that this is not a talented team because it is. We are no ‘SC but we have enough talent to do better that we did these past two games. To me ONE of the issues is the players, especially the QB Riley are under a lot of pressure this season. He knows the lofty expectations of the fans and that most of that depends on how the passing game clicks so I feel like we are putting a great deal of pressure on him. Anybody remember the Riley from ’07? He may have made some stupid decisions but his throwing was unbelievable. He was the back up, no pressure or expectations so he was playing fearlessly and you saw the productivity. Anybody read his scouting report on ESPN when he came out of high school? I believe it read something like, ‘this guy might be the most accurate passer in long throws in his class’. The point is the fact that he was not able to hit Vereen on the trick play was not due to lack of talent, becuause he is a much better QB than that but rather due to playing with a lot of nerves. The hope is the coaches will find a way to help him play relaxed and if they succeed you are in for a treat because I have a great deal of faith in this guy.

  • rollonubears

    how many quarterbacks bounce back from a mental slump? i agree, riley was insanely awesome in 2007, and tedford put the screw to him by not letting him play, and not letting him play to his advantages when he did play. he’s got him all screwed up now, with this stupid cock-arm wind-up delivery garbage he forces everyone to do. it might work fine when you’ve got oklahoma’s line protecting you, but not when you’ve got the bears. tedford is the reason for our problems this year. he needs to fix them, or he needs to go. he’s been the reason for our problems every year, since 2004. you can say we got hosed by mack brown in 2004, but tedford refused to run up the score on opponents that year, brought a sleepy team to southern miss, and cost us a shot at a quasi-rose bowl berth as a result. that would have done WONDERS for the program. instead, it was the beginning of the end. his stubbornness has gotten worse every year. it’s starting to want this year, but it’s being replaced with stupidity. both are unacceptable. i will take all this back if we have a good showing against the teenage bears of socal next week, though.

  • jpf

    Okay, all you Tedford detractors have a right to be pissed and are right in your criticism of the coaching staff’s philosophies. BUT you need to first acknowledge that without Tedford, Cal is a third-tier mediocre football team that would be down in the cellar with Washington State. With the exception of a few blips that has been the case for the last SIXTY FREAKING YEARS.

    Cal fans owe Tedford nearly everything that Cal Football is right now. Half a BILLION DOLLAR ENDOWMENT??? Could anyone even pretend to dream about that in 2000??? NO WAY.

    I’m not a Tedford apologist, in fact I’ve been VERY critical of his play calling for years. But you can’t just fire the guy for a couple of bad games. The man is still a genius and he is at CAL, where we LEARN from our mistakes and we grow. CAL is unique because EVERYONE has a shot that brings talent and passion. As a fanbase we need to support that passion not dampen it. We are NOT Tennessee, we are NOT Nebraska, we are NOT Michigan, we are NOT Penn State, or any variety of big schools with mediocre academics and only the desire to win at all costs.

    No.

    This is CAL. We do things right. And Tedford will find a way if we support him.

    As far what needs to change…personally I think the talent is there, but it is all about the emotional side of the game. This team is fragile and tight because of the expectations. These are just kids, they don’t have the neurodevelopmental capacity to make perfect decisions under pressure. As a matter of fact they are in a range of ages where it is that exact thing that is so TERRIBLE. Tedford’s mistakes come in treating this team like a professional team (and I think he would end up having FAR more success in the NFL as a result).

    BUT the thing that makes college football so great is the emotional side of it all. It’s the living on the edge, it’s the crazy sloppiness that produces rare moments of glory that live on forever (see “The Play” the greatest play of all college football).

    Tedford needs to harness the emotions of our guys, keep them loose, let them have fun, and put it all out on the line. That’s why those teams in the early years won so handily with such inferior talent. They had fire. We lost that after 2004. As Cal alums and fans we need to help bring it back.

    So Jeff Tedford haters, SHUT THE HELL UP!!

  • Eric

    As I have repeatedly said before, since the 2004 Holiday Bowl, Cal has been a disappointing program. Not terrible, just disappointing. And it was in the 2004 Holiday Bowl where I first really questioned Tedford’s coaching, because in that game he repeatedly insisted on Rodgers throwing to inexperienced receivers (no Chase Lyman + additional injuries) even though he had an amazing offensive line and JJ Arrington. That played straight into the hands of Texas Tech, which simply tries to outscore the opponents – 3 and outs help teams like T Tech. I thought Tedford had learned his lesson when he publicly stated in the offseason that he should have ordered more running in the bowl game, and, at the time, I wasn’t going to question his coaching given the successes in 2002, 2003, and 2004. 2005, I simply wrote off because Ayoob was terrible and it was a shock to the collective system (though had Tedford gone with Levy earlier, we may have had more success). 2006 was a disappointment, not because of the Tennessee loss, but because of the Arizona loss, which, had Tedford again ordered more running, we would never had to worry about Longshore at the end of the game 9and, even on that last drive, we easily could have run more without risking running out of time). 2007 was the letdown, but I agree with Dan what Cal is now facing is far worse than 2007. 2007 was disaster because Tedford stuck with Longshore when he shouldn’t have, but I didn’t get the sense the entire team was falling apart 9see the game against U$C that year), except in the first quarter of the 2007 bowl game against Air Force. And one of things that has long bothered me about 2007 is that, while Riley certainly screwed up by trying to run at the end of the Oregon State game, he never should have been in that position. We should have kicked a FG to tie the game, force overtime, and get our running backs back on the field. Given the amazing job Riley had already done to get us in a position to tie, he shouldn’t have been positioned in that manner. My view.

  • C.J. Roses

    “BUT the thing that makes college football so great is the emotional side of it all…”

    “Tedford needs to harness the emotions of our guys…” It’s startling to me that some can’t see that this is Tedford’s failing, something he simply has not been able to do. You do not “harness the emotions of our guys” by kicking that field goal at the end of the half. In fact, he did just the opposite- deflating the emotional state of the team.

    Tedford has some great qualities but he has his shortcomings. I don’t see him as the coach to get us to a Rose Bowl…

  • calbear

    Riley said the quarterbacks and receivers had a meeting today to talk about “owning routes,” having some routes that they know can get them a completion most of the time.

    If the team had aspirations to win the Pac-10 and the NC, why wasn’t this done before..Tedford seems detail oriented but this is a no-brainer…

    Still waiting for a receiver to step up, and more big name receivers to sign.

    The must frustrating thing is that these kids have talent. They just don’t show up for games. They’re clueless and have no execution. The kids deserve solid preparation and it seems pretty evident that they just don’t have it. We’ll see what the real team is like against UCLA…

  • abe

    I am sick and tired of people whose response to every criticism of Tedford is to acknowledge that without him we would be a mediocre team. First of all yes we all acknowledge that, heck even the squirrels on campus know that but at some point the honeymoon has to end. No athletic director in the nation hires a coach with the ultimate goal of building a middle of the road pedestrian program. Tedford was not hired to build such a program, he was hired to rebuild the program so that we could be contenders for conference championship. Period. At some point the honeymoon has to be over and we need to start to seriously question if he has what it takes to take us there and the response to such criticism is not to remind us that without him we wouldn’t even be in this discussion.

  • nickle

    For those comparing Riley 07 to Riley 09 (and 08 for that matter).

    Our top 3 receivers in 07: desean jackson, lavelle hawkins, robert jordan.

    Who are our top 3 receivers today?

    I think we all took our receivers for granted in the past years. Hopefully this year they can step up, but it’s a huge dropoff in talent (not because these guys suck, but because those are pretty legit receivers in 07). Like Coach said…there’s a lot more than just riley making the pass (he absolutely should have made some passes the past weeks though), and it’s easy to blame riley, but there’s a lot of things that could help him. Did anyone see how many minutes Barkley had all game in the pocket? He could have taken a nap and thrown a completion after he woke up. It was sorta like the GB / Vikings game the other day. Farve killed, but he also had 0 sacks and I don’t think any hurries. Look up those stats on AR.

    I’m still disappointed Riley doens’t seem to be the second coming of AR, but man, there’s a lot of other stuff we have to get better at.

  • Pug

    Maybe people like Tedford for the simple reason that, before Tedford, people in other parts of the country would look at me when I mentioned Cal footbal and say, “I didn’t know Berkeley had a football team”.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Daddy read your post and he said if Tedford stays much longer the program will revert right back to anonymity. Sad but true. USC was down; Washington was down; pucla was down; ASU was down; Stanford was down but your program wasted the opportunity.