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.