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Football: Wednesday update

Cal continued its preparation for UCLA  today. It seems the media is getting to see less and less of practice, especially at the end. Last year, the final sessions at least usually provided a look at the hurry-up offense or some kind of 11-on-11. Consistently this year, the media is only seeing field goal kicking or conditioning. Not sure if this is by design, but it sure makes harder and harder to to get a good pulse of the team.

After practice, much of the discussion with coach Jeff Tedford continued to be Cal’s second chance at the pistol offense. That’s been covered enough here and in the paper with today’s story, but the bottom line is the Bears seem confident they are better prepared this time around to deal with it.

Even though the Bruins gave us a surprising amount of yards to Washington State last week, they still have a stingy defense. It helps when you have two All-America candidates on the same unit. Outside linebacker Akeem Ayers and safety Rahim Moore are both considered among the best at his position in the country.

Of Ayers, Tedford said: “He’s a very good player. They put him in a lot of different positions. He rushes off the edge. He’s very fast off the edge. They also drop him into coverage.”

Of Moore, who led the nation last year in interceptions, he said: “He’ good, he’s athletic, he’s in good position. Obviously, he can make a play on the ball. It’s obvious that he’s athletic enough to catch the football when he’s in position to make a play.”

Last week, Tedford talked about the need to get backup tailback Isi Sofele more involved in the offense. Tedford would like to make sure starter Shane Vereen is kept fresh over the course of a long season, but also trusts running back Ron Gould to go with who he feels should be in there over the course of a game.

“Through the length of the season, we need to be able to make sure we’re rotating the backs  so we can keep Shane fresh,” Tedford said. “Isi has proven he’s a quality back and he can make big plays. I feel good about his contribution.”

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.

  • Dave

    Love your stuff Jonathan! By the way, why does Jon Wilner hate Cal so much?

  • Scott

    Closed practice still? Hasn’t made one bit of difference and we are all still waiting for Tedford to roll out some new secret innovative play calling. Nothing. Same old predictable game plan. Why bother?

  • rollonubears

    the kicking game was the difference last week. funny that’s the only element they’re letting the media see. maybe they feel the added pressure of having 20 guys milling around in the stands will help tavecchio make those 30 yarders.

  • Steve W

    Dave,

    It’s not just Wilner that’s Cal hating. Everyone from the sports media seems to be piling on. John Crumpacker from the Chronicle yesterday said this Cal team is one of the weakest in the Tedford era and will struggle in every game it plays. And he’s an alum. The beat writer from the LA Times said this week that the Bruins should just roll over Cal if they want to be considered as a good team before they get to the real meat of their schedule (Oregon,OSU,Stanford, etc).

    I think the sportwriters are just trying to get even for consistently over ranking Cal teams over the years. Plus, I think they understand that Cal has a major problem at quarterback that probably won’t get solved this year.

  • Bears07

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think anyone was expecting a designed pass play for Keenan Allen. And we still haven’t actually seen his arm so we don’t know how threatening that play might be for future defenses.

    I also think the tight media policies are to protect from leaks of the defensive schemes just as much as they are for offensive plays. We’ve clearly been able to surprise offenses with different looks in almost every game so far this year. (Unfortunately against Nevada, it was a pleasant surprise for them as in “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE THE LANES ARE SO OPEN!!”)

  • Dave

    Good stuff Steve!

    I think Cal should be 7-5 this year, so yes, this could be a pretty week team relatively. But we have so much young talent. I think we will be much improved next year if we can find a consistent QB. And 2012 in our new stadium is a Rose Bowl year with Keenan Allen as a junior.

    It’s truly amazing how much people hate Cal. It’s almost like a burden for voters to rank us when we are actually pretty good. Not worried about UCLA. We dominate them in Berkeley and I guarantee a victory this weekend.

  • CalHipHopHead

    I think it’s funny how everyone thinks this Cal team is so horrible. They definitely looked terrible against Nevada, but how does losing to a top-12 team on the road by one point make you one of the worst teams in the conference? I actually saw a projection on SI.com that didn’t have Cal going to a Bowl game. Granted this is not a great team, but they are not that bad either. They have made vast improvements on Defense (outside of the Nevada game, but I think it would not have been so bad had Mohammed played). The running game is good, and the receivers are solid. The obvious weakness is at QB. I actually think if Riley was solid, not even great, this team could be one of top 3 teams in the Pac-10 this year. The Pac-10 is loaded with only one really weak team. I think this team will finish in the middle of the conference. Is this one of the best Cal teams of the JT era, absolutely not. But are they the not the worst either (’07, the ’05 team without Lynch would have been atrocious).

  • Scott

    All the love the press had for us went away when we started choking on national TV, probably starting with the Texas Tech Holiday Bowl but most notably with Tennessee going ahead 35-0 and capped by last year’s drubbing in Oregon. I’ll never forget Lee Corso predicting Cal and West Virginia in the national title gamer a few years ago. After the Jahvid Best 5 TD game against Minnesota last year we had the press loving us out loud again, but the rest we all know. That’s why it would be so attractive to see Tedford let the big plays out this Saturday aginst UCLA and get some highlight exposure on ESPN. Otherwise, at least open up practice so JO can update us.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    JO

    I feel your pain. You have always treated me well here. IMHO this is another sign of a program that is crumbling. The only thing missing now is Goebbels or Baghdad Bob.

  • abe

    i think most writers out there are fed up of Cal’s disappointing way of finishing seasons and are no longer willing to risk looking like fools by picking us to do well. For instance Phil had us ranked 9th last year and called us a dark horse for the NC, Pat Forde dubbed our defense as a top 5 unit in the nation, Ted Miller said our D might be the best in the conference, and off course most local bloggers also suggested we are contenders for the conference championship…well how do that turn out? where did that defense rank at the end of season?

  • Meep.

    You know, even with our defensive lapse at Nevada, we could’ve won had Riley hit wide open receivers. It all comes down to the QB. I honestly don’t have high hopes for this year apart from expecting a bowl game. Our defense stepped up against Arizona, but we couldn’t score ONE touchdown. Riley had a decent game by stats, but stats don’t show you how the game actually went.

    And like everyone’s already said, we’ve ridden on the coattails of media hype from around 2004-2008. Every year, we choked on national television. I honestly think we would’ve showed up to the Rose Bowl had Mack Brown not prostituted himself around. Losing to Texas Tech just showed us what was to come of our players’ character issues and we choked every time we were nationally televised. We had this coming, but I honestly think we have high hopes for the future. There’s a lot of talented youth and we have a plethora of quarterbacks to choose from that were at relatively highly touted. I think it’s a bad sign that Sweeney and Mansion weren’t ever able to really compete with Riley, but Maynard is Allen’s brother and will sync with him easy. He’d also allow us to run a spread option type offense and really use all of our backs. If we don’t want to go that route, Hinder and Boehm both look like quarterbacks that can make the throws needed. That’s just the thing, though; they don’t have to be great. They just need to hit the open guys and we win games because we’re a complete team everywhere else.

  • Meep.

    *continues to pump sunshine*

  • Golden Bear

    “Isi has proven he’s a quality back and he can make big plays. I feel good about his contribution.”

    Kid has got crazy talent, but I’m still waiting for this to come into fruition

  • rollonubears

    we needed to stick to the running game at nevada, it was serving us just fine. had we done that, we wouldn’t have needed riley to his his open receivers, in gale force winds, at altitude no less. yeah, kuppledink hit his open guys, but he had a great game, and is used to that weather and floating balls. all the more reason to run. i agree riley isn’t that great, but coaching was the reason for the loss at nevada. and coaching and kicking were the reason for the loss at arizona.

  • jpf

    Block Amy Script for those that don’t have it:
    http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/58785

  • Rey

    This board sure use alot of excuses for our failures.
    Most conversations with the CAL alumni and boosters are that Tedford and his $3mil/yr salary doesn’t know how to cut bait with his 5-year Senior QB. (Sounds like Longshore revisited)

    Finally, the “media” is not a harsh media like the East Coast writers. They call it like it is-in fact I think West Coast writers are too forgiving (e.g. Alex Smith and his failed 6 years).