Football: Tuesday report

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.

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.

  • Juancho

    I know I’m negative, but reading that today’s practice had the most enthusiasm since the first week’s sort of just points out another one of the problems with our program.

    If that’s true, then they aren’t “getting up” for all the games. Why don’t we always practice at a high tempo?

    As much as people criticize Kelly for being a jerk (not to mention his flamboyant visor) and Pete Carroll for well, being corrupt – nobody can deny the fact that they ran up-tempo practices that led to the “best players will play” culture. And we don’t have it.

    We continue to have a laissez faire, “It’s okay to be average in football b/c we’re Cal” mentality in football. And I don’t get why our university is built on the tradition of being elite academically, but the football program gets a pass. I don’t get it.

    Imagine if our engineering department became run of the mill?

  • Rand

    Jauncho, have you ever played a full football season while managing midterms, papers, and schoolwork? It’s absolutely impossible to maintain a high level of excitement for every game. It just cannot happen. Also, up-tempo practice routines do not correlate with “getting up” for the games, to use your language. Even with Oregon’s fast-paced practice routine, they did not play with much fire in the first halves of the ASU, Stanford, WASU, and Washington games. I totally agree that some coaches may be better at getting their players excited for what would be off-weeks. It appears Kelly is good at firing his team up at halftime.

    It seems to me like you approach every single post on here looking for something to criticize.

    It’s great to read that our team fired up and excited to play!

  • Steven

    Cal wasn’t practicing at a high tempo just because they are feeling particularly excited — they are doing so because Oregon’s offense plays at a fast pace.

  • Jim

    Engineering department becoming run of the mill?
    The legislature is working on that …

    Mansion kinda spilled the beans by revealing the palpable lack of enthusiasm and emotion that so many people have noticed. College football is supposed to be full of both because without a real gut desire to win, “brains and brawn” don’t win the game.

    I will admit that I approached some classes feeling that a C would be okay because I really wasn’t enthused by the classes’ content/instructor/whatever and I got a C. I’d grade this team as a C, at best, aceing some easy tests while blowing some midterms big time.
    Finals are here: Oregon, f’ng furd and the dawgs.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it automatically assumed that because there was “more enthusiasm” this week, the other weeks’ lacked enthusiasm? It’s a bit presumptuous to think we know how the team’s been practicing week in and week out. After all, who wouldn’t get pumped up about playing #1?

  • S Smith

    I think it is a decent strategy but as we saw against USC 1 or even 2 weeks of increased tempo in practice helps a little bit but probably won’t condition you for the long haul.

  • GldnBear71

    The next two games determine the kind of team this really is. Is it the team with “no heart” as was revealed by blow-outs against USC and OSU? Is this the team Tedford claims it to be – hard working, focused, etc.

  • bigbear

    Why exactly is being extra hyped up to play the high octane #1 team in the nation somehow evidence that the team doesn’t practice well or lacks emotion? Perhaps your [overly simplistic] belief that everything Tedford does is just awful blinds you to the simple and obvious- it’s extra exciting to play the Ducks this season.

  • SteveNtexas

    Its not all the players,coaches and administration’s fault. I’ve posted about how prospective basketball recruits are cheered at Indiana – our fans need more effort.

    Look at the national sports websites that both media and recruits read. Who is on ESPN or Sports Illustrated orCBS Sportsline plugging Cal ?

    Florida, Kentucky Notre Dame have fans plugging their schools even if they can’t write a complete sentence, but we have very little. I go on and defend Cal but our fans are almost non-existent. Recruits read this stuff.

  • Bears07

    To clarify a couple things, up-tempo does not mean motivated, it means “hurry-up offense”. We don’t do up-tempo (read “hurry-up” practices every week because that’s not what our other opponents play.

    Also, being most excited/motivated this week does not mean that they were not motivated/excited in previous weeks. It’s only natural for more adrenalin to rush against the #1 team and in big game week. I’m pretty sure the Ducks were more excited about their USC and OSU games than games against UW and UCLA.

  • rustyolduck

    If you think that increasing the tempo for in the week before an Oregon game will get your defense ready for the Ducks, just as USC how that worked for them! LOL!! Tedford will be spinning his survival swan-song after Oregon (and then Stanford) gets done with your defense… I’m sure glad Mansion “feels different” and “Noticed some growth” (it’s called PUBERTY kid!)!!

  • mexicanbluefish

    Juancho, who says chip kelley is a jerk? He alway shows the utmost respect for the opponents and a slight distaste for the press—- all as it should be, don’t you think?

  • Dan

    Juancho- I agree with Mexicanbluefish- Who says Chip Kelly is a jerk? What are you basing that on?

    I think he’s the bomb. What he has the Ducks doing on the field is beyond impressive- both the result and how his team accomplishes is unparalleled. It really is mad genius brilliance.

    Beyond that, Kelly is always respectful of opponents, he hasn’t done anything that would classify him as a jerk- unless I am forgetting something.

    And finally, for the off-field problems many Oregon players have had, it’s not fair to pin that on Kelly. He didn’t recruit any of these problem guys, he inherited those guys. Don’t forget this is only his 2nd season as head coach.

    I have been impressed at every step how he has handled these problems and been willing to go as far as dismissing key players from the program.

    How is he a jerk compared to, say Tedford, or any coach, for that matter?

  • Juancho

    I based the Chip Kelly is a jerk comment on two things.

    1. Everyone blames him for the bad reputation Oregon has. Blount, Masoli, etc. I don’t have a problem with him. The other thing I did base that on is halftime of the Stanford game when he was being interviewed by ABC he said that the referees were acting like they were personal friends of Harbaugh.

    I don’t dislike the guy. I think he’s awesome at his job. And I’m not someone who is that excited about graduation rates or things like that. In a perfect world it’d be great to win titles and have excellent students. But the truth is I’m of the opinion that the academically driven students would never be held to athletic standards, so the kids who go on athletic scholarships shouldn’t be held to academic standards that the nerds like me are.

    I don’t think he’s a jerk. My comment was that people make him out to be a jerk. Nobody ever mentions how a former cal player got kicked off the team two years ago and is in prison.

  • Juancho

    And in anticipation of someone denying that, it’s Noah Smith who got 4 years in prison for sexual assault. But that got quietly swept under the rug. Beacause Tedford is perfect remember.

    I’ll say what I’ve been saying for a long time. I think Tedford is our program. He built what we have. He got all the credit when it was all sunshine. But now he gets all the blame when it’s been a downward pattern for 3 years. So either fix it, which I’m rooting for b/c I like the guy and do think he does a good job of representing our school. But if he doesn’t fix it then it’s time we move on.

    As others on here post, what other school would pay him $2.8 million at this point? So why should we? Representing the school well is the bare minimum.

  • Dan

    Juancho- good point on Noah Smith. However one difference is that he was not on the Cal team when that happened, vs. the Oregon stuff has happened while players were in the program.

    But I restate- I don’t think anybody has any justification whatsoever in calling Kelly a jerk at this point. It’s ridiculous- He’s done nothing to warrant that.

    Furthermore, I think he’s the absolute MAN, and if he was doing what he is doing at Oregon at Cal, especially if he gets to the NC game this year and wins it, we’d all want to put up a statue of him. In fact, due to all the off field issues and how he’s handled them, we’d all be lauding him for cleaning up the program and cultivating a winning tradition on and off the field.

    So Chip Kelly is a jerk? Please. That’s jealousy and frustration over the state of Cal football talking.