Leading off Wednesday afternoon’s press conference, one reporter asked how many snaps Cal head coach Jeff Tedford wants backup quarterback Allen Bridgford to get on Saturday against Presbyterian. This wasn’t the first type of question he had received about backups receiving extended playing time.
“At any opportunity that we have depending on the flow of the game, we will want to play our guys,” Tedford said, smiling. “Is that good enough?”
With a win that would make him Cal’s all-time winningest coach, Tedford enters Saturday’s game against the Blue Hose with his usual game plan in mind, but even he wants to get some other guys in the game.
A week after surviving a scare at Colorado, the Cal football team (2-0) enters what looks like its easiest game of the season. The Bears take on Presbyterian (1-1) at 2:30 p.m. in the Bears’ first official home game of the season at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The Blue Hose are unlikely to present a challenge. A school in its final year of transition from Division II to the Football Championship Subdivision, Presbyterian has played Wofford and North Greenville to start the season, and after Cal it will take on the likes of Stony Brook, Gardner-Webb and Charleston Southern.
“We tried to find other games but we play a very tough schedule,” Tedford said. “If you look around the country there is a team like this on almost every top Division-I schedule for the most part. We tried to get other games and we couldn’t. I am not apologizing for our schedule because we play a very tough schedule.”
The Pac-12 has already had a slip-up with an FCS team — Sacramento State defeated Oregon State, 29-28 on opening weekend in Corvallis — but Tedford said that was not at all a focus when evaluating Presbyterian.
“It’s about us preparing and getting better,” Tedford said. “We’re going to talk about our team playing to our potential.”
The biggest news was that Brendan Bigelow, the touted freshman running back out of Fresno, would see some snaps this weekend now that he is near 100 percent recovered from his second tear of his anterior cruciate ligament. Tedford also noted earlier in the week that fellow tailback C.J. Anderson would see more of the field after his strong performance at Colorado.
“Physically, it looks like (Bigelow) has made the turn in terms of running full speed and cut,” Tedford said. “He’s comfortable.”
With Bigelow suddenly in the mix, Cal now has four running backs — Isi Sofele, Anderson, Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson and Bigelow — suddenly jockeying for position. Tedford stated that Bigelow has not overtaken Deboskie-Johnson’s position as the third running back, but Tedford did guarantee that the freshman would see the field this weekend.
It’s the defense that could use the tuneup this weekend. The Bears come off of a disappointing defensive performance that saw them surrender 582 yards of total offense and three touchdowns of at least 37 yards.
After a very impressive opening weekend limiting Fresno State, the Bears were exposed several times against the Buffaloes, which almost resulted in their first loss of the season. Tedford noted that the defense put in a lot of work during the week and that Presbyterian had nothing to do with its preparation.
“We were all over them about attention to detail and sense of urgency,” Tedford said. “It’s about us this week and us getting better in some things that we have been struggling with.”
Should Cal defeat the Blue Hose, Tedford would be cemented as Cal’s all-time winningest coach. Last week he tied Andy Smith, who led the Bears to 74 victories between 1916 and 1925.
Typically reserved about comments regarding his position in Cal football lore, Tedford joked that he “just outlasted the rest of them,” and was quick to credit both his past and present players about getting him to this moment.
“It’s an honor, obviously,” Tedford said. “It’s more to do with the people and players that have played in my time here. I feel fortunate to be the head coach here but this is really about this year’s team.”