Coaching musical chairs
The college football coaching carousel seems to be constantly moving — especially when it comes to assistants, but the Cal and Colorado football teams looked like they agreed on a swap after last season.
Passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau as well as defensive backs coach Ashley Ambrose departed Boulder to come to Berkeley in 2011 while offensive line coach Steve Marshall bid the Bay adieu to assume the same post in the Centennial State.
So does the addition of Kiesau and Ambrose and the Bears’ 52-7 blowout of the Buffaloes give Cal an added edge for Saturday? Will Marshall’s presence give the Buffs some insight on the Bears’ offensive line?
Maybe, but don’t look to Cal coach Jeff Tedford to believe the hype.
“(The coaches) know the personnel and that’s about it.” Tedford said. “I haven’t even looked at (last year’s tape) at all. It’s totally different.”
With a new head coach, Jon Embree, and an almost completely revamped coaching staff, Cal will be the opponent of what is supposed to be a new era in Colorado football. A traditionally successful program that narrowly missed out on playing in the 2002 national title game, Colorado has not even been ranked since 2005 primarily because of the disastrous head coaching of Dan Hawkins, who finished his tenure with a record of 19-39.
Both Kiesau and Ambrose downplayed their former affiliation with the program, both insisting that the trip is all business. Both coaches did admit their familiarity with the players, however, and that they haven’t forgotten about the 45-point thrashing they endured last season.
“We’re going to have our hands full going into a hostile environment like that,” Ambrose said. “Colorado always plays well against teams that come in that are good.”
Despite five consecutive losing seasons, the Buffs have knocked off Oklahoma, West Virginia and Georgia at Folsom Field over the last four seasons.
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones could only laugh.
Cal’s top receiver, usually with a No. 1 on his back, had to switch jersey numbers when he returned punts in Saturday’s victory over Fresno State.
Needless to say, he’s not a big fan of No. 49.
“Oh, man. It’s ugly, it’s ugly,” Jones said. The 49 … adds 10 pounds, looks a little sloppy … (but) I can sacrifice that for some returning yards.”
One team can’t have two players with the same number on the field, so because cornerback Steve Williams, also No. 1, plays some special teams, Jones had to go with the 49.
Jones did mention one good thing about the jersey switch: the touchdown celebration.
“The one thing that I do know is if I score, I can rip it off like Superman,” he said. “I’d rip it off, show’em who it really is …
“I’d have to ask coach first.”
The Fontana, Calif., native had plenty to smile about when talking about his — and the team’s — performance on Saturday. He caught two touchdown passes, tying a career high, and had over 100 yards receiving. His effort put him on a Sports Illustrated list of NFL draft risers for the first week of college football.
He had a new quarterback throwing to him in Zach Maynard, who was playing in his first game in a year and half after transferring from Buffalo. Maynard’s half-brother, Keenan Allen, was Jones’ fellow starting receiver.
Did Jones sense a connection between Maynard and Allen?
“Definitely. They’re brothers,” he said. “They’ve been together all their lives. And I’m pretty sure if I had a cousin or brother on the field, it would be a connection like that.
“They’re like my brothers also. Keenan’s like my brother. Zach, same … We all feel the connection.”
Allen said that Maynard had not thrown him a touchdown pass since the first round playoffs in 10th grade. Maynard’s two touchdown passes went to Jones on Saturday, but Allen was just happy to be playing alongside his brother again.
“It just reminded me of high school a little bit, especially when we got out there during warm-ups,” Allen said.
Maynard looked shaky to start; his first pass was an interception. But he improved throughout the game, and his top two receivers see the potential for a high-scoring offense.
“He came out, started off pretty bad,” Allen said. “Had to get the jitters off, hadn’t played in about a year and a half, so, and then he got calm and ran the offense like he was supposed to.
“When we start picking up on everything, get our mental mistakes out of the way, I think we can put up a lot of points, help our defense out.”
Jones wasn’t worried at all after Maynard threw the pick.
“I really didn’t think anything of it, because we’ve been in practice with him, spring and fall now,” Jones said. “We know what he can do, so I wasn’t panicked … he shook it off …
“I see big potential. If we had capitalized on all of our opportunities and without mistakes, it would have been a lot different. But I’m still happy with the turnout and how we progressed.”
— Tedford mentioned that wide receiver Kaelin Clay did not dress on Saturday because of an unspecified academic issue. The head coach did not reveal whether or not Clay would be ready on Saturday.
— Folsom Field sits at 5,360 ft above sea level, and the altitude is always a question heading into Boulder. Tedford, Kiesau and Ambrose all emphasized that their players are in “great” shape and that breath shortage tends to be temporary.
— Colorado has always been a team that thrives at home. The Buffs were 4-2 at Folsom last year with both losses coming by three points. On the road it was a different story: Colorado was 0-5 and lost four out of those five games by more than three touchdowns.