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Cal Answers Call Against Wazzou


Kennan Allen takes the ball on a screen play

Cal fans can rejoice! It looks as if there’s one team Jeff Tedford can still beat. Since 2005, Cal has beaten Washington State every single year. Of course, the Cougars haven’t gone to a bowl game since 2003 (in which they beat Texas in the Holiday Bowl, something we couldn’t do) so I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud about. However, at the end of the day, it still counts as one important win in conference and it leaves us only 3 wins away from being bowl eligible! After 2010, Cal fans have learned now to take going to a bowl, even if it’s a Nut Bowl, for granted.
Overall, the Bears did pretty well on both sides of the ball. Getting revenge on Mike Leach is always sweet (after his quirky play-calling beat us in the 2004 Holiday Bowl). On offense it was a lot of ZM->KA (I guess we plan on riding KA21’s legs all the way through as we are on his last stretch of time as a Golden Bear). Personally, I would like to see more balance on offense. I’m glad to see we are using a 3-headed running game, but the passing game seems to go too horizontal at times instead of vertical. I understand Maynard’s limitations with his arm, but it would be awesome to get the TE game going and to see Bryce Treggs or Chris Harper with the ball in their hands in space.
Defense wise, Cal did a great job shutting down Jeff Tuel. Granted we knocked out Marquess Wilson, but Leach is a great schematic planner and Clancy did a great job preparing for this spread offense attack. We will be seeing more of it later against the Huskies and the Ducks. We had great penetration and pressure from the front 7, and our secondary is much improved lead by Avery Sebastian and Kam Jackson after the Ohio State debacle. Cal will get a difference test this next week as the Bears prep for the Big Game against Stanford and prepare for ground and pound. O yea, by the way, Taylor was definitely in the end-zone against Notre Dame. I know you shouldn’t put yourself in that kind of ambiguous situation on the road, but the Trees definitely got robbed.

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Cal vs. UCLA: Where’s the Beef?


Big Brother vs. Little Brother?

I always wondered why this “rivalry” seemed so toned down. For the last 8 years, it seems as they have come 3rd and 4th fiddle when it comes to hostility from Cal fans. I know Oregon took off after they got good and we fought with them to be USC’s bride’s maid in the late 2000s. Then of course there is up trying to shoot the moon and get over the USC hump. Now there’s the Washington issue after they ended our bowl streak and started To$hgate. Then there’s also the big game and natural Bay Area matchup with Leroy Junior College. I know potentially see them as our “little brother” but academically and population wise they are probably closer to us than most flagship universities and their satellite colleges. (Props to our UC system here).

UCLA though just felt like a more natural rivalry to me though than Stanford. We both are public schools and share the same colors (sort of) and Sons of Westwood is a rip off of our fight song. Academically, we are closer to their rankings in the nation’s eyes than the Stanford (based off the East Coast biased US News rankings at least). Of course Bruin fans have this to lean on but I sort of believed that had more to do with popularity and the fact more people see UCLA as being “attainable” than Cal. We can probably say the one thing UCLA and Berkeley students have in common was we got into UCLA. That’s a Stanford joke by the way on us. On the field, we’ve gone back and forth in home games since 1998 (outside of 2009). I understand they have 100+ college championships while we’re still somewhere between 20 and 30 so we have a ton of catchup to do there.

Overall, I would like to see more spice in this rivalry. Worse comes to worse though, we can both probably agree to hate on schools in red.


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Young Blood Stepping It Up


Cal hosted a practice open to local high school coaches and local media this past Saturday April 7.

There are several great reports from: Calbears.com, Bear Talk, CGB, Rivals, and ESPN

We won’t go through too much of the practice, since there are more than enough reports out there. Instead I’ll look at the best young player on offense and defense that stood out during scrimmage this past Saturday:

On Offense: Brendan Bigelow

Bigelow logged eight carries for 41 yards in full pads. He showed everyone how good he can be without the knee brace that he had to wear last season. One of the best plays of the scrimmage was during a red zone play where Bigelow took a handoff and just blasted by the defense to get the endzone (though he did end up fumbling it at the goal line). He ran with confidence as he was able to cut to open holes and plant his feet to spin off defenders, which also seems to be his favorite move. One of the best qualities that Bigelow showed during practice was his resiliency. Almost every time Bigelow was tackled, he would carry the defender an extra two to three yards until extra defenders came to bring him down. It seems that Bigelow is showing flashes of his potential, with his speed and great toughness. Let’s hope he continues to improve under Gould and Blasquez.

For more on Bigelow, check out John Crumpacker’s report.

On Defense: Jason Gibson

While Bigelow was spinning around all over the field, guess who was tackling him? Jason Gibson. During the scrimmage, Gibson tallied six tackles, two tackles for losses, and a pass breakup. He is one of the many players trying to fill the hole at inside linebacker after Kendricks and Holt graduated. Currently, Robert Mullins and JP Hurrell are the current starting inside linebackers, but the other main contenders are David Wilkerson, Nick Forbes, and now Jason Gibson. Gibson showed great instincts and awareness, which were the main reasons why he had those two tackles for losses. An X Factor for Gibson is that he has good speed. During one play, when Bigelow burst past the line, Gibson was able to run him down from behind for the tackle. Gibson may not be as fast as Kendricks, but he is definitely one of the faster linebackers in the group.

For more on Gibson, check out Rivals’ Robert Kenneth Clampett’s report.


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Spring Ball – April 3


Yesterday the team completed its first practice (in shells) after spring break.  The players were a bit rusty after a week off, but Coach Tedford was reportedly pleased with their conditioning and effort.  In a post-practice interview, Tedford praised some of the young guys, including WR Maurice Harris, TE Richard Rodgers, LB Jason Gibson, DB Avery Sebastian, and QB Zach Kline.

Several players were apparently limited or out due to injuries (Allen, Lowe, McClure, Wilkerson, Galas, Stevens) or perhaps class or undisclosed injuries (Bigelow, Lasco, Sofele, Tipoti, Whiteside, Anthony).  The usual media outlets have already posted reports and interview quotes/clips:

– California Golden Blogs (Avinash)

– BearTalk (Faraudo)

– Rivals (Gorcey)

– BearInsider (Tedford & Maynard quotes)

– Bear Blog (Tedford & Maynard video clips)

[Note: this post is cross-posted at California Golden Blogs]

Some additional observations:

Maynard participated in full, taking most of the first team QB reps, after having missed the first 2 practices due to study sessions.  Both he and Tedford confirmed in post-practice interviews that his academics are fine.  Tedford also noted that Maynard is more confident this spring:

“It’s night and day from last spring. Last spring he was scratching his head about what was going to happen. It was a brand new offense. Now he has great control of what’s going on, he’s got great command, great presence, great composure and you can tell he has a year of experience under his belt. He’s focused at practice. The confidence comes with the rest of his teammates and paying a lot of attention to them. This time last year, he was worried about himself, doing the right things, saying the snap count right, the 25-second clock. Now he’s a real field general and he relates well with the rest of the team.”

Maynard indeed showed good command of the huddle, despite missing the first week of spring ball.  His footwork and delivery seemed noticeably cleaner when compared to last fall (preseason) camp.  He threw the ball with authority at times, but also missed a few throws.  This is most likely due to rust and working with a depleted WR corps (see below).  Bridgford took a few #1 reps, plus most of the #2 reps.  He also looked composed running the offense, and his delivery seemed more compact than last year.  This is likely a sign of experience and confidence in his arm, which is fully recovered from shoulder surgery two years ago.  Hinder, Boehm, and Kline were next (in that order) in the rotation.  Kline has a live arm, and a quick release.  Coach Arroyo was very active coaching the QBs, and seems to have taken over Kiesau’s former role as the most vocal coach on offense.

Coach M was also very active coaching the OL, which didn’t have the best day – particularly in pass pro.  With Galas out, Schwenke (normally a guard) took over at center, leading to a few bad snaps/exchanges.  MSG and Rigsbee are apparently the tackles for now, with Crosthwaite and Gibson at guard, but this situation is likely fluid and open to competition.  Early entry true freshman tackle Christian Okafor is as big as advertised, and he saw action mostly with the 2nd & 3rd units.

The RB & WR corps were both limited for this practice, but apparently for different reasons.  Sofele, Bigelow, and Lasco were limited (not sure why), so Anderson and Ervin took most of the snaps at tailback.  Yarnway and Briggs saw time at both TB & FB, while Manuel worked with the receivers.  WR depth is limited this spring with Allen out and the Fab 5 freshmen not coming until fall.  Maynard had good things to say after practice about Maurice Harris and converted DB Joel Willis, who both showed flashes.  Walk-on receivers Bouza, McGovern, and Anderson got plenty of reps.

The defense, as expected, seems to be ahead of the offense at this point.  Several of the young guys made their presence felt, including DEs Gabe King & Todd Barr (both were active up front and in 1-on-1 drills), ILBs Jason Gibson & Nick Forbes (both saw plenty of reps with Wilkerson out), DBs Avery Sebastian (our ace recruiter) & Kam Jackson (both had nice coverage and a few pass breakups).

The team will practice in pads on Thursday and Saturday this week.  Lastly, here is what Tedford said when asked about Kline:

“I’m really impressed with him. He’s got a good sense of humor, he’s a really good leader. For a young guy to jump in the huddle and have a presence about him, you can tell he carries a lot of confidence. Anytime there’s a new guy like that they catch a little bit of flack here and there but he takes it really well. He’s a student of the game, he’s bright and he really works at it. He’s very calm and he’s very respectful of the investment the older guys have made. He understands he has a long way to go. He’s going to be a great player before it’s all said and done.”