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Football: Tuesday practice update

As Cal moves forward to Saturday’s game against Utah, there is increasing talk about the challenge the Bears will have against the Utes stingy defense. Utah has a very strong front seven, and it shows in its run defense which is ranked 13th nationally (94.5 yards allowed per game). During last week’s 26-14 win at Pittsburgh, Utah held Ray Graham, then the nation’s second-leading rusher, to just 46 yards on the ground. that was 103 yards under his average.

Seeing as Cal is coming off its worst rushing performance of the season against USC, there is cause for concern Saturday.

“They have a great defense,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “It’s going to be important that we’re able to mix it up. We can’t be one-dimensional. We need to be patient with the run because they do a good job.”

Cal tailback Isi Sofele, who has a little extra bounce in his step this week since he is from Salt Lake City, was held to just 44 yards rushing against the Trojans, who seemed to have the speed and scheme to swallow him up.

Utah’s defense is led by defensive end Derrick Shelby, who was the national defensive player of the week last week.

Of course, the Utes will have to contend with Cal’s receivers. Keenan Allen is now leading the country in receiving yards per game (138). He’s on pace for 104 catches for 1,656 yards, both of which would be school records.

“We all have seen his talent and he’s a strong competitor and has a lot of great skills to go with it,” Tedford said. “He has a great understanding of the game. It’s really no surprise when you watch Keenan practice every day and the skills that he brings.”

In light of quarterback Zach Maynard’s miserable three-interception performance against USC, Tedford pointed out that since Allen is racking up all those yards, somebody must be getting him the ball. Tedford dismissed Maynard’s performance as a quarterback having a bad day, one that was trying too hard. He said NFL quarterbacks have off-days all the time, pointing out Rex Grossman’s four-interception performance Sunday for the Redskins.

“You have a receiver that has those type of stats, somebody is getting him the football,” Tedford said.

Maynard is one of only three Pac-12 quarterbacks to throw for at least 200 yards in every game this season.

It remains to be seen when cornerback Marc Anthony returns — he still hasn’t returned to practice because of a shoulder injury — but even when he does it appears true freshman Stefan McClure will be a heavy part of the cornerback rotation, at the very least. McClure figures to get his second straight start Saturday after a strong performance against USC receiver Robert Woods.

“I think you’re going to see him turn into one of the special corners we’ve had here,” Tedford said.

 

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.

  • bayflyer

    “In light of quarterback Zach Maynard’s miserable three-interception performance against USC, Tedford pointed out that since Allen is racking up all those yards, somebody must be getting him the ball. Tedford dismissed Maynard’s performance as a quarterback having a bad day, one that was trying too hard. He said NFL quarterbacks have off-days all the time, pointing out Rex Grossman’s four-interception performance Sunday for the Redskins.”

    That’s a fine comparison to make if you’re comparing apples to apples. Grossman was benched in the middle of the game, and he lost his starting job this week.

  • Vianden

    Interesting for anyone to “defend” Maynard’s multi-interception day against USC by noting the Chicago Bears’ Grossman’s performance last Sunday;ESPN is announcing that Beck will start on Sunday.

  • stay golden

    Kind of ironic that JT brings up Grossman….who got benched for his performance.

  • thehawkse7en

    Please don’t tell me our coach compared our qb to rex grossman. Many Tedford should follow shanahan’s lead and bench maynard? Or at least consider the idea?

  • Larry

    …”Tedford dismissed Maynard’s performance as a quarterback having a bad day, one that was trying too hard…”

    Make that 3 bad days: Sept 24th vs. UW, Oct 6th vs. Oregon, and Oct 13th vs. U$C!

  • Steve W

    Hey Jeff,

    Maynard is getting his brother the ball, but seems to be ignoring everyone else. How many catches has our senior tight end had in the last three games. How bout the running backs? Your quarterback project is locking in on his primary receiver – his brother – and seems to have problems doing his check downs and seeing the rest of the field. That’s a big steaming cup of not good. The Utah DC has a HUGE target on Allen’s back this Saturday. It’s pretty simple: you shut down the run and you shut down Allen, you beat Cal.

  • GoldenTrailsDave

    I think “Tedford” means “ridiculous tendency to make excuses” in some other language that none of us are aware of.

    This is getting silly.

  • bean

    I don’t get this meme that Tedford makes excuses. He has never once denied his own accountability. But anytime he offers analysis about things that need to be fixed, people jump on him for supposedly making excuses. That is what is silly; of course you have to identify things that need to be fixed in order to fix them, and the team’s execution and decision-making are clearly among the things to be fixed. And for those analogies to Braun are misplaced: Braun typically gave vague platitudes or discussions about individual performances, with little analysis, in response to interview questions, while it is clear that Tedford offers interviewers more thoughtful analysis about what the coaches and players can do better.

  • Calduke

    Cal is currently a 3 point favorite with an over/under of 47.

    That is a 25-22 Cal win.

    Does anyone think Cal can score 25 points against the Utah defense??

  • Calduke

    Steve W. – right-on observation.

    I was at the SC game and on 2 ocassions, Miller was wide-wide open, but, Zack threw to his brother in double coverage.
    On one of those plays, the coverage on Miller left him and headed towards Kennan as soon as his noticed that Zack looked toward his brother. The defender knew where Zack was going and didn’t have to worry about the TE.

    I’m glad we landed Kennan, but, the price ???

  • rollonubears

    Let’s hope the D can score some points. I’m not holding out hope for anything else.

  • Calduke

    Rollun

    If you had to bet the house – which way would you go??

  • rollonubears

    I think we’ll win this game by 10. They should fix a lot of their dumb mistakes, and they shouldn’t freak out like they usually do because the opponent just isn’t that good.

    But… these are the bears, and whenever you put $ on them, you lose. This is a great game for an emotional hedge. Take Utah plus 3. If Cal wins, you bought a victory. If Cal squeaks by, maybe you get paid, too. And if Cal gets blown out, not only do you get paid, but you probably get to see Alan Bridgford for free!

  • Juancho

    Whatever happened to all that kyle boehm hype?

  • CalBearister

    Last time we played the Utes I was in Vegas. Utah +220 was the easiest money I ever made. Great emotional hedge too.

  • Calduke

    Kyle Boehm is not a pro-style, pocket passer.
    He will be buried under Maynard, then Bridgford, then Z Kline. 1% chance of being a starter

    It will be a real waste of top quality QB play.
    Since he is red-shirted, it would do him well to transfer.

  • Juancho

    We have how many QBs on scholarship, 6?

    Maynard
    Bridgeford
    Boehm
    Sweeney
    Mansion
    Hinder