Thursday was a big day on the Cal campus. Students began classes and the football team began preparation specific to its Sept. 1 opener vs. Nevada.
“It’s officially game week,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “The looks we saw in practice today were about Nevada.”
Which had to get the Bears’ attention two years after the Wolfpack buried them 52-31 in Reno. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, now a second-year player with the 49ers, totaled 329 yards of rushing and passing and accounted for five touchdowns.
Nevada used the victory as a springboard for its 13-1 campaign.
The Wolfpack has moved from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West and has different personnel than in 2010. But coach Chris Ault’s pistol offense, with its three wide receivers and deceptive option running game remains.
“It’s like the triple-option,” Tedford said. “You have to cover every phase of it — you’ve got to take care of quarterback, dive back, pitch guy. They move very quickly and they play-action pass very well off it.
“The scheme itself is very difficult to stop. We have our hands full. We have to be very disciplined.”
Nevada was just 7-6 last season, including a 69-20 loss at Oregon in its opener.
The Wolfpack returns with sophomore quarterback Cody Fajardo, who took over the starting job at midseason and wound up passing for 1,707 yards and six touchdowns and rushing for 694 more and 11 TDs. Fajardo was voted WAC Freshman of the Year in 2011.
“The quarterback is much more experienced now. I’m sure he’s got a better grasp on the offense,” Tedford said. “It’s still a very productive offense. They’ve been one of the top teams in the country last several years at rushing the football.”
Tedford said the chance for players to redirect their attention to an opponent is refreshing after three weeks of camp.
“The focus in the meetings is looking at someone else, not just watching the repetition of the same thing every single day,” he said. “There’s definitely a focus that goes along with the game planning that picks up a notch.”
The loss to Nevada in 2010 was the first for the Bears in the rivalry since a 6-2 defeat 107 years earlier — in 1903. Cal leads the all-time series 22-2-1, not counting eight rugby matches played between 1906 and 1914.