Cal quarterback Brock Mansion said that today’s practice had more enthusiasm than any practice since the first week of the season.
Part of that, according to coach Jeff Tedford, is because the Bears practiced at a high tempo to try to simulate what it will be like to play No. 1 Oregon on Saturday. The Ducks run an uptempo, hurry-up offense that can get snaps off two or three times per minute. The Bears’ scout team offense ran the Ducks’ plays at a high pace to try to prepare the defense.
“Today’s pace of practice was very fast,” Tedford said. “They were very energetic but we were really trying to go uptempo to simulate what Oregon does on offense. I thought they flew around really well and are excited for the challenge.”
Still, according to Mansion, it wasn’t only about the tempo. He said the players recognize the opportunity of playing the No. 1 team in the country.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Mansion said. “Everybody on the team is excited. We haven’t come out and practiced with that much enthusiasm probably since the first week after fall camp. We had a great competitive atmosphere. The energy at practice was just amazing. You can definitely tell there’s a different competitive atmosphere and energy going on in practice.”
Cal tailback Shane Vereen said the team is excited but also very aware of just how good the Ducks are.
“We do feel confident, but at the same time they’re No. 1, we’re unranked,” Vereen said. It’s a great challenge. Anybody who plays the game of football looks forward to these challenges and wants to meet them head on.”
Linebacker Mike Mohamed also noticed the increased energy in practice.
“If you can’t get up for the No. 1 team in the country, you don’t belong out there on the field,” he said. “The energy was really high and guys were flying around and really excited for this one.”
More from Tuesday:
- Mansion said he already feels more comfortable after getting one career start under his belt. “I do feel different,” he said. “You start noticing little things. Coach was telling me how much growth you’ll see from the first game to the second game, and I’ve already noticed it.”
- Like Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers, Vereen said he likes watching Oregon tailback LaMichael James. But he said there is no extra motivation in the fact that his counterpart is a leading Heisman Trophy contender. “Either way, I want to go out and play my best game, regardless of who is on the other sideline,” Vereen said.
- Even though Vereen is more interested in Oregon’s defense, he said as a fan he enjoys watching Oregon’s offense. “It’s fun to watch because they’re style of offense is unmatched,” he said. “Nobody really does it and nobody else has mastered it the way they have.”
- Vereen said Tedford asked him to talk to the team before they boarded the bus for the Washington State game on Saturday. “I felt like I was always a leader,” Vereeen said. “I do feel like I need to step up in a leadership role. Coach T asked me to talk to the team and I was more than happy to do that.”
- Mansion was asked if Cal’s offense could keep up with Oregon if the game turned into a shootout. “I think we have some of the best weapons in America to deal with high-scoring opponents,” he said. “I just have to do my job to put the ball in their hands so they can go score.”
- For a full transcription of Jeff Tedford and Mike Mohamed at today’s weekly press conference, click here.