Football: Bears reflect, look ahead to USC

A few quick notes off coach Jeff Tedford’s post-practice Sunday interview session.

Disclaimer: I was not at the media session, thanks to a flight cancellation on an “AA”irline that will go nameless, forcing me to return home via flights to JFK-New York (with a 3-hour layover), then LAX, then SFO. An 18-hour funfest, and I still had to go pick up my car this morning at the San Jose Airport.

Anyway, here are a few highights taken from Cal’s video of the 11-minute news conference:

— Tedford expressed confidence in placekicker Vincenzo D’Amato, who missed three field goals at Ohio State, including a potential game-winner from 42 yards. “We’ll work Vince hard this week. He kicks very well in practice. He’s hitting the ball clean,” Tedford said. “We’ll work hard from the left hashmark this week.”

— Tailback Brendan Bigelow will “absolutely” get more opportunity in the wake of his 160-yard, two-touchdown effort at Columbus, according to Tedford. “There’s only one ball on the field, but I think he proved . . . we kind of know he’s got big-play potential and he played really well the other day,” Tedford said.

— Tedford gave solid marks to the offensive line for its run blocking, but was not specifically asked about pass blocking (where they allowed six sacks). “They played above average in the run game,” he said. “That was a big, physical (Ohio State) group up front and I thought they did a decent job. They need to continue to improve.”

— Eliminating penalties was an emphasis in the week preceeding the Ohio State game and Tedford said the game was “definitely” the most disciplined performance of the season in that regard. Just four penalties (all on the offense), three of which came on one series. “That was a focus going in . . . eliminate the penalties and I thought we did that for the most part.”

— Steffan Mos shared the punting job with freshman Cole Leininger, Tedford explained, because he wanted a left-footed kicker to try a couple rugby punts so he could get a specific roll. One went well (57 yards), the next not so well (18 yards). Leininger averaged 47.0 on three punts.

— No definitive word on tight end Spencer Hagan, who suffered a right knee injury. Was scheduled to undergo an MRI when swelling subsides. Will provide an update as soon as it’s available. Seems like he will be out for a while, at least.

— Tedford said USC with star wideouts Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will provide a supreme challenge on Saturday. “(They are) very explosive, very fast, physical, break tackles,” he said. “You give them an inch and they can take it a long way on you. It’s going to be challenging to hold those guys in check. (Quarterback Matt) Barkley, as experienced as he is, puts the ball where it needs to be and those guys are great players . . . two of the top receivers in the country.”

— On any “silver linings” that came out of the game, Tedford said, “It’s always discouraging to play that hard and be so close and not come away with the win, especially when the stat sheet says you did a lot of good things. But that doesn’t count. The scoreboard’s the only thing that counts.

“But I’m fired up about who we were¬†(Saturday) and the heart and perseverance and determination in a tough game like that. We just need to make sure we clean up some of the big plays and assignments. There’s a lot there to work with and a lot to improve on. There’s some silver lining because you came away with some confidence that you play in hostile environments against good teams. I thought we played well most of the game.”


Jeff Faraudo