Jeff Tedford approached reporters for his daily Q&A with the media today when he saw a reporter wearing a St. Louis Cardinals jersey.
Tedford asked him about the Cardinals status, and the reporter informed him that Game 1 was tonight. Tedford looked puzzled.
Turns out Tedford had no idea the Cardinals had advanced to the World Series, despite the fact that he is good friends with St. Louis manager Tony La Russa.
This is not out of the norm for Tedford during the season. He is in his usual lockdown mode, permanently residing in his office looking for ways to get his team out of its three-game funk, with not much exposure to the outside world.
“I knew they were in the playoffs,” Tedford said. “I texted Tony and told him to finish strong.”
If the Bears have any aspirations for the postseason, it would be a good idea to win Saturday. Cal is 3-3 and needs to win three of its final six to qualify for a bowl game.
Although Utah is no pushover, this is one of the more winnable games left on the schedule. The Bears get the Utes at home and arguably have more depth across the board than Utah. But the Utes do have a fine front seven that produces a stout defense, especially against the run.
Utah’s defensive front will present a stiff test for Cal’s offensive line, which is playing at a higher level than the past couple of years.
“Utah’s defense as a whole is one of the best we’ve seen,” Tedford said. “They’re very physical up front.”
One of the better matchups in the trenches will be Cal right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin against Utah defensive end Derrick Shelby, who is coming off national defensive player of the week honors after recording 1.5 sacks and returning an interception for a touchdown in a win over Pittsburgh.
“Looking at him on film, he’s a great player,” Summers-Gavin said. “It will be a great challenge. I just have to keep studying him and be ready for battle.”
Wednesdays are Zach Maynard days, and he met with reporters after practice. He said he has gotten Thursday’s performance out of his system and has learned what he has to do differently next time.
“I just have to be more prepared for what type of coverages they are going to be giving me,” Maynard said. “I can’t make bad decisions and force things. I have to take what they give me.”
Maynard admitted forcing passes to wide receivers Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones because he has so much confidence in them. He figures they will simply make a play and get yards after the catch as well.
“I”ve been forcing the ball to the receivers we have because I know that they are pretty great after the catch,” Maynard said. “I have to know that the checkdown is there for you and just take it.”