It’s unusual for a Pac-12 football team to get two days off in a row, but Cal coach Jeff Tedford thought his team needed it after a hard-hitting game against Stanford. The Bears were back at it today. They’re practicing lightly all week before playing Arizona State on Friday night in Tempe. Tedford said three days of workouts is enough quality practice reps while at the same time giving players enough time to heal up. If you noticed, Cal had players being helped to the sideline all game long against Stanford. Lots of young guys were shuttled in along the defensive line as ends Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu got shaken up and missed time. Mustafa Jalil – one of Cal’s hotshot D-line recruits last winter – saw lots of time, and Tedford said he liked what he saw from Jalil, a 285-pounder who the Bears could look to play inside at tackle on occasion. “He has so much potential right now. I really wish I could be here to see him develop,” said Owusu, a senior. “I’m telling you guys right now, mark my words, he’s going to be very good.”
My story for tomorrow’s paper weighs in on Jalil and other young players who seem to set up Cal’s defense well for the next few seasons. There are holes to fill on offense for 2012 – Mitchell Schwartz and Justin Cheadle are seniors on the offensive line, and Cal will need another receiver to complement Keenan Allen with the departure of Marvin Jones. But the defense seems to have the depth to adequately fill voids.
–Speaking of players banged up in the Big Game, receiver Michael Calvin had an MRI on his injured knee that showed no tear in the anterior cruciate ligament, which is great news for the senior. Tedford said it’s possible Calvin could return – and he didn’t rule Calvin out for Friday’s game.
–So ASU is looking to bounce back following a close loss to its natural rival. Sound familiar? The Bears and Sun Devils are in the same boat in some ways, looking to rebound at Sun Devil Stadium. But ASU is in a more fragile state, having lost three straight to put coach Dennis Erickson on the hottest of hot seats. It makes me wonder how the Sun Devils will respond Friday night: Are they a lost ship that has no shot at getting back on course? Or will they come out sharp knowing that they’re still alive for the Pac-12 South championship?
Tedford sees ASU as an athletic, physical team with a solid quarterback in 6-foot-8 Brock Osweiler. “Their quarterback spreads it all over the field,” Tedford said. “They get you in (open) space. Any time these kinds of teams get their athletes in space and you’re a one-on-one tackler, you have to make sure you get them on the ground. It’s really important we tackle well in space.” Osweiler ranks second in the conference at 307 yards per game and he’s got a dangerous receiver in Gerell Robinson, fourth in the conference at 100 yards receiving per game.
Here’s what Osweiler had to say about Cal …