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A thing of beauty

Those of you who would have given away their first borne to keep Jeff Tedford as coach feel fairly justified after the way the Golden Bears stomped Oregon State.

No. 1 — Recruiting. The main reason Cal jackstomped the Beavers in Corvallis was Tedford’s recruiting. He lines up DeSean Jackson on the outside, and the opponent has to cheat a safety his way. Then a guy like Lavelle Hawkins can have his way with the defense. You look in the backfield and see Marshawn Lynch, who was one of the top recruits to ever come out of the Bay Area, and Nate Longshore, who has a gun.
Those of you who subscribe to the Times and see the terrific job that Mike Lefkow does every year in compiling the Cream of the Crop might have noticed a complete change in attitude among the top 25 recruits. We also list their favorite school. It used to be Miami, Florida State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma. It’s now Cal, Cal, Cal. Tedford not only wins, he makes it fun and interesting for the players.

2. Game planning. Bears defensive coordinator Bob Gregory dared the Beavers to beat him through the air, and they couldn’t do it. Tedford is smart enough to let Gregory do his thing without interference. On offense, Cal simply left the Beavers looking like they had no defensive clue. Those two touchdown passes to Lynch were as wide open as a play could possibly be. Those were scheme touchdowns. Those were plays worthy of a guy who makes $2 mil a year.

Other highlights

Nice job by Bernard Hicks in his first game as a starter at free safety. No major mistakes and some hard hits. Cal will be in good shape when Thomas DeCoud gets back.

Nu’u Tafisi is starting to hit that Ryan Riddle stride. It’s taken him a while, but he is starting to get to the quarterback on a regular basis. This is HUGE if Cal expects to earn a BCS berth.

Cal’s offensive line, rebuilt or not, has some animals playing out there. There were Oregon State bodies flying through the air when they tried to rush Longshore. And I MEAN flying through the air. Erik Robertson explained that the Beavers finally would give up trying to get through, and would then leave their feet in an attempt to block a pass. That leaves them vulnerable to a shot to the chest that turns them into a projectile. Fun stuff if you are a Cal fan.

Tight end Craig Stevens is back to full health. He looked great, and actually made a couple of big catches — and held on. :o )

Cal cornerback Robert Peele is going to be pretty darned good.

Zack Follett is a monster.

Syd’Quan Thompson is getting comfortable.

Posted on Sunday, October 1st, 2006
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Whew!

Well, I would imagine that Cal fans are a bit more relaxed today (Sunday). The team that was supposed to be a national power looked like one in dispatching Minnesota without much trouble.

Obviously, quarterback Nate Longshore looked much better. He had a bit more time and he side-stepped the rush very well. Longshore is not quick footed, but he is strong and he showed on Saturday that he has the strength to pull out of a tackle. He often bought himself more time by brushing away defenders. Longshore would be the first to admit, though, that he missed some wide open receivers and threw a few fairly short passes into the ground well short of his target.

Cal fans did get to see the kind of threat that those three wide outs — Lavelle Hawkins, DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan — can be. One of those guys is going to line up against a corner that simply won’t be up to the job. I would imagine they will take turns having big games.

Bears tailback Justin Forsett was very impressive with the way he changed direction and bounced outside to open holes.

A big surprise was the play of Cody Jones and Tyson Alualu at defensive end. A stinger suffered in last week’s game by Abu Ma’afala, one that probably affected his play in that game, opened the door. Junior college transfer Rulon Davis was ill all last week, so Jones stepped into the starting spot and Alualu moved out from his tackle slot. Defensive line coach Ken Delgado talked about how impressed he was that Alualu learned all his duties in such a short amount of time. Great stuff for a true freshman. Both players held their ground and allowed Cal’s linebackers to make a lot of plays. Ma’afala is due back this week as is Davis.

For those of you thinking ahead, Portland State ripped Northern Colorado 45-3 a week after beating New Mexico. New Mexico rebounded with a win over New Mexico State. The Vikings feature Danny Ferrigno’s son, Brendan, at wide receiver. Coach Tedford said he is very impressed with the Vikings’ size along the defensive line and the overall defensive speed of the team. That defensive line strength could be a problem for Cal, which might be without offensive tackle Andrew Cameron, who sprained his ankle against Minnesota.

Jay

Posted on Sunday, September 10th, 2006
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