Football: The bye week begins

Cal had its usual day off today, and even though it’s a bye week, the Bears will practice as usual, going Tuesday through Thursday. But there will be a major difference between this bye week and most bye weeks. In most years, the Bears would use the bye week to get scout team players more work and hold a scrimmage among the younger players. But with a Thursday game coming up next week at Oregon and a lot to work on, especially defensively, the Bears will focus on the present rather than the future.

Game planning for the Ducks won’t being until Wednesday. Coach Jeff Tedford said Tuesday will be a generic practice where the team focuses on fundamentals. But Wednesday, Cal will start installing the game plan for Oregon. The Bears will have Friday and Saturday off, but counting next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Cal will devote five practices to prepping for the opponent instead of the usual three. That could come in handy preparing for the Ducks’ explosive offense, especially since Cal has a lot to correct defensively and could probably use the extra work.

The Bears had their usual conditioning and walkthrough practice Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t able to attend because I was still traveling back from Seattle, but I did get ahold of Tedford’s comments. One issue he addressed was the playcalling on the goal line at the end of the game at Washington. He said the reason Isi Sofele was on the field instead of C.J. Anderson at tailback is because the Bears wanted to run an “outside zone” play, which, according to Tedford, has “cutback potential.” Tedford said missed blocks were the reason the Bears didn’t score, not because of Sofele. He said Sofele is better equipped to handle the outside zone play than Anderson. “The outside play can go in or bounce out,” he said. “Isi has the most experience with that play and has a little bit better speed to be able to execute that play. That’s why he was in there.”

There are a lot of storylines leading up to next Thursday’s games. You, of course, have the memories of Cal’s defensive players faking injuries to slow down Oregon’s offense, a tactic the Bears owned up to by suspending defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi a couple weeks later. There’s the overall defensive performance the Bears put together, holding the Ducks to just one offensive touchdown. This year’s defense doesn’t appear close, at least so far, to being on the same level of last year’s unit that led the conference in total defense. Can Cal come close to duplicating last year’s effort? Then there’s kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, who is 5-for-5 on field goals so far this year but had an infamous miss against the Ducks last season in which he was flagged for a false start and then failed on the re-try.

All of this and more will be further explored in the next 10 days.


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.

  • Uh Huh!

    Interesting admission… I guess we (and opponents) can expect that when CJ Anderson is in the game, it’s going up the middle.

  • rollonubears

    I’ve said this before, probably too many times, but the playbook is too complicated if you can’t get 11 guys on the same page. Multiple option run schemes with complicated blocking assignments are clearly something the Cal offensive line isn’t bright enough to comprehend. If that’s the case, then let the options be up to the qb. Tell him to roll right or left. Tell the fat guys to block to people in front of him, and let the qb decide if he can scramble in himself, or if somebody is open in the end zone. We didn’t even try that once. First and goal from the 2 should have about a 90% success rate. When you’re going to use all 4 downs to run plays, it should success 95% of the time. The complicated playcalling with the game on the line, and players under immense pressure, is mind boggling.

  • David

    I wish we had an O-Line like we had in the early 2000s. I remember us lining up with 2 tight ends and running straight through the oppositions defense. They knew what was coming, but still couldn’t stop it.

  • bigdruid

    Rollonubears: It’s not the playbook (that wasn’t a complicated or particularly novel play), we just missed the block. It happens. Remember that this same playbook marched us 85 yards on that drive, in the teeth of 50K+ screaming fans.

  • Juancho

    I’m being facetious. But is Sofele becoming this year’s Kevin Riley? Tedford should have just stayed with the same answer he gave post-game, that he can see how that decision to run Isi could be questioned.

    As mentioned above, now Tedford insinuates if Anderson is in there it’s right up the middle. And it’s the O-Line’s fault at the end of the game. I liked Tedford’s answer post-game much better. Take a little bit more of the blame on yourself coach, you’re the one making the big bucks. I like Tedford and think he can turn it around – but sometimes his comments really irk me.

    To defend Tedford a bit – I think this year and last year we’re really feeling the downside of the mediocre recruiting classes we brought in a few years back. Let’s hope next year and the year after are the start of our upswing.

    I think Lupoi has done a great job recruiting. Yet to see a big difference in how our D-Line plays though. Would love to see Follett be brought back in to work with the LBs.

  • rollonubears

    isi had a pretty darned phenomenal game against washington, overall. i wouldn’t write him off at all. he just doesn’t plow through defenders as well as some of our previous backs.

  • 79alumni

    The games over .. time to move on. Clearly CAL’s backfield isn’t as it was a few years ago, so many of you who live in the past – don’t realize that plays need to be called based upon personnel available. That still means that the plays need to be executed. So what was it? Bad play calling? Missed execution? Lack of personnel (experience)? Maybe a combination of all 3? Ducks are up next .. Go Bears!

  • Moosehead

    I think that with time our Offensive Line will be return/be better than our line was in the early 2000’s. It is very easy for us to say that Tedford should have used two Tight Ends but we don’t know what the play they used called for. If it was missed blocks that cost us the game, then if it continues, the players should be replaced. To tell you the truth I could not imagine any O-Line player dissing the O-Line Coach. I think that Cal will correct its mistakes and give Oregon a fight that they will remember.

  • JLC

    A “W” is a “W”. Playing Coach for a moment…..if that happens at Oregon….being on the 1 or 5 yd line…..they should take 2 extra tackles in the back field and run Isi behind them. That will move the line and it will put points on the board…..and that wins ball games.

  • RT

    Next time the Bears have first and goal on the 1, how about giving the ball to Moala…a la Refrigerator Perry…and let him bowl through?

    On a serious note, the play calling in that series seemed very predictable….why not roll Maynard out once and give him the option to run or throw?

    Bears need a miracle to win in Eugene with the way the defense is playing…no pass rush, which is putting too much pressure on the secondary

  • Quack

    Over under (3) on how many times Cal fakes an injury vs. Oregon?

  • Harry

    I loved the play calling of not only this game but all of the previous games too. I have seen more passing on first down in the first 4 games this year than the previous 3 years combined. I have a hard time faulting play calling when the offense rolls up 450 yards on the road with a mediocre run game. The only thing that didn’t happen was red zone execution, and that’s hard to do on the road.

    And I also have to give the defense credit for second half adjustments. I know there was a blown coverage on the TD to Polk, but they stuffed all of the outside runs which killed them in the first half and did a better job of tackling overall.

  • Harry

    One more comment, Cal had more yards, red zone trips, first downs, and less turnovers. When that happens you win 95% of the time. Tedford put his team in a position to win. I feel like losing this game was karma making up for us winning at Colorado, a game were none of the things mentioned above happened.

  • Oldcalfan

    I am amazed at Cal’s practice schedule on a bye week. Does this mean that Cal normally (on a bye week) plays the scout team and younger players? Now they’re going to amp it up? I thought preparation was the top priority EVERY week. Cal should be a top-notch winning football team not a care-less, poorly prepared, uninspired football team. Just play well and competitively. Win the games you are supposed to and once in a while win a game you’re not supposed to. That’s what I thought Tedford was getting paid to do.

  • chris

    i will say this cal does not need to get in atrack meet with the ducks cause if they do they will get the short end of the stick and cal also needs to run the football to keep that spread option of oregon on the sidelines

  • Oski 88

    Oregon scored 15 points on the Bears last year.

    I will tell you this – it will be a good game.

  • ThisisCal

    Hey Quack, go duck yourself.