Despite errors in strategy, Bears not worried about postseason potential

Cal v USC 1
Kevin Foote/Senior Staff

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With the Cal football team’s 1-3 start, panic has ensued in Berkeley and the blogosphere — but not amongst players and coaches.

Already one-third of the way through the season, the Bears need to win five of their remaining eight games just to become bowl eligible. Yet Cal head coach Jeff Tedford is confident the squad will still reach the postseason.

“There’s no doubt in my mind,” he said. “We’ve got to make enough plays to get over the hump.”

The Bears have shown flashes of greatness, but their inability to execute on key plays and overall inconsistency has led to the season’s slow start. After Saturday’s loss to USC, the players talked repeatedly about missed opportunities. The Trojans gave Cal ample chances to seize the game. Unlike the 2009 matchup — when on the game’s first possession the No. 24 Bears drove all the way to USC’s six-yard line before quarterback Kevin Riley threw an interception in the end zone — the Trojans were the squad squandering an early score on Saturday.

USC took the opening kickoff and moved to the seven-yard line before Matt Barkley tossed a pass into the eager hands of Cal cornerback Steve Williams. Barkley may be the media’s darling, but Williams was apparently not impressed.

“Matt Barkley kind of just stared at the receiver,” Williams said. “That wasn’t a very good play from the quarterback. I didn’t think he would make a decision like that.”

Mo’ tailbacks, mo’ problems

Despite having a seemingly unlimited arsenal of running backs, the Bears’ run game Saturday was virtually nonexistent. Isi Sofele was the No. 18 rusher in the country last year with 1,322 yards, but the senior gained just 16 yards on eight carries Saturday. C.J. Anderson had a little more success, netting 32 yards on five attempts. Brendan Bigelow, the star of the Ohio State game, averaged 7.8 yards on his four rushes. All three are capable, but USC’s front seven dismantled the Bears’ offensive line.

Because Cal couldn’t establish a run game, quarterback Zach Maynard was under even more pressure.

“They were crashing our run game, and we just didn’t have some plays pan out,” Maynard said. “They liked to stack the box.”

Quick Hits

— Junior Spencer Hagan, who injured his knee against Ohio State on Sept. 15, is out for season, Tedford confirmed Saturday. Hagan, listed as the No. 2 tight end on the preseason depth chart, reportedly has a torn MCL and ACL and a lateral tear in his meniscus.
— Junior wide receiver Keenan Allen caught nine passes on Saturday to move into fourth-place all time on Cal’s career receptions list. With 173 receptions, Allen needs just eight more to pass Brian Treggs, father of current Cal freshman receiver Bryce Treggs.

Jonathan Kuperberg covers football. Contact him at [email protected]

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  • loverpoint

    We know that the NFL was shocked into an agreement with the refs after the Green Bay vs Seattle travesty. Maybe Cal will come to a shocking realization about Tedford when the football team ends the 2012 season with at best a 2-10 record. The problem for Cal is that all the games Cal could win are on the road, and because they are on the road, that puts Cal as the underdog because Tedford has sucked on the road.

  • loverpoint

    Yes I believe Cal will be undefeated in the post season. But that is easy when you won’t be there. Please wake me when Cal wins back to back regular season games. Kuperberg- what 5 games do you envision Cal /Tedford winning? I see Cal sitting in the basement of the Pac-12 at #11 or #12. I think it is only fair to Cal fans that if Cal loses against Arizona St. then Maynard should be yanked and someone put in, I don’t care who the person is, as long as Maynard is gone.

  • mrose

    GO BEARS!!!!!

  • Oldcalfan

    Bowl Game? Tedford has lost it. How about concentrating on an improved ASU team? If they get past ASU they have Oregon, Stanford, Washington, improved UCLA and powerful looking Oregon State. Who are they going to beat? WSU or Utah? Tedford says “we’ve got to make plays”. Easier said than done. It seems too easy for Cal’s opponents: Stack the box and (sack) pressure Maynard. Cal’s defense (which was supposed to be a strength this year) has been very poor. Tedford needs a reality check (not to mention a better QB, O and D lines).
    I really hope Tedford is right and I’m way off base, but it sure doesn’t look like it right now.

  • http://twitter.com/IanKarin Ian R. Aitken

    Pappy took the Bears to 3 consecutive Rosebowls /10 yrs as HC, and still got fired. Tedford hasn’t performed with talent and is satisfied taking a SW flight to SD for a bowl game. PU his contract now, and let’s move on
    There’s another Chip Kelly waiting out there! GoBEARS, Good bye Tedford….
    sailor37

  • JLC- TEXAS

    Well you may have a few things right except for the Coach T. He is not throwing the ball or missing his receivers, or receivers dropping the ball. He is not playing defense so far back that they can’t make a play on the receivers. Coach T is not missing his blocks or missing tackles. The TEAM is on the Field. They should be 4-0 – not 1-3. USC is who they are. Cal’s 3 missed throws were headed for TD’s……… that would of changed the outcome……on defense 3 missed/poor tackling and 3 scores for USC……..The Cal Gang is on the verge of turning things around. If we are 2-8 at the end of the season……than I can understand your frustration. But I don’t believe the CAL GANG WILL LET THAT HAPPEN. Maybe CAL needs that 12th MAN when CAL get’s in the RED ZONE. Maybe some motivitation music, video on the screen like you see at the other major schools. The 3rd down music/video at Ohio State and USC…….that pumps the Defensive team and fans up. Coming from the SEC and ACC area of the country………you have to make it more exciting and entertaining as they do. It’s called promoting and marketing a product……CAL is a product. Take a page from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones…..he understood that years ago before the rest of the NFL picked up on it. The money generated would help other programs at CAL……….what are you all waiting for. Do you all want to lead or follow.

    • Oski88

      I can’t tell if JLC is being sarcastic or just delusional. The “CAL GANG” is lucky to be 1-3, and if not for a decent 4th quarter against Southern Utah, would be 0-4 right now.

      • JLC- TEXAS

        Maybe you need to get from underneath that Bear Suit and you may see things a little clearer Oski……you guys are all funny. Let’s see how many 5 stars/4stars do we have on the team compared to usc, Ohio State,Texas and Alabama. So you can not compare, considering that we are no getting blown out 50 -0. I will say it again :Cal’s 3 missed throws were headed for TD’s……… that would of
        changed the outcome……on defense 3 missed/poor tackling and 3 scores
        for USC. Same thing happen at Ohio State.

        • JLC- TEXAS

          Coaching is what takes an improve players performance and level of play. Coach T has done that.

          • http://www.facebook.com/patrickabandy Patrick Abandy

            Coach Tedford may not be the guy on the field but he also isn’t making the adjustments to make up for those mistakes. That is a huge recruiting tool against us. Aside from getting a degree at one of the best universities in the world, we can’t promise anything like a national championship or Rose Bowl to top recruits who actually care about that. People in California only have to look north at Oregon or south at USC. It’s time for a new coach who can develop the talent we have and make us relevant again in football.

          • JLC- TEXAS

            Things will play itself out sooner or later……….But we need to support the team, because we do have talent and it started with the 2011 class.

          • http://www.facebook.com/reggie.farknocker Reggie Farknocker

            Don’t even start with the “degree from best university” stuff… we only graduate 56% of players.. second to last place Arizona. It’s shameful that we cannot at least claim that our players are academically elite — either develop a winning program or recruit academically sound players…right now, we have neither and it’s embarrassing

          • sshafikh

            Are you sure you weren’t paid by “coach T”? If not, I’m beginning to question your intelligence.

          • JLC- TEXAS

            I am sure I understand your intelligence.

        • Papa Bear

          Coulda – woulda – shoulda. All excuses for bad play. Bad play = Bad team. Bad team that should be good = bad coaching. With 4 games done, we all should have a good idea of the character of this squad.

    • sshafikh

      I agree with you that it’s the Cal players who miss tackles and can’t perform on the field not the coach. I completely disagree with you though as who’s to blame for players’ incompetence. You can’t expect an individual who hasn’t been taught calculus to solve calculus problems. By the same token, Cal players lack fundamentals because they’re not coached properly. Who’s to blame for that?

      • JLC- TEXAS

        Well I quess Alabama has a lot of Calculus players and coaches………..Right.

    • loverpoint

      If Tedford hadn’t become so wrapped up in recruiting Allen, a decision that has destroyed the Cal team for the last 2 years. Not because Allen is a bad player, not at all, Allen will go high in the NFL draft whenever he decides to enter the draft. I suggested to Best and Vereen that the stay through their Senior season, they both entered the draft after their junior year, Best’s career at Detroit may be over due to concussions, and Vereen has been lost in the shuffle at New England after he sat out his rookie year with an injury. The reason Cal has come apart the last 2-3 years ends when Tedford promised Maynard a starting job at QB if he would convince his brother to come to Cal. This kind of favoritism that Tedford has bestowed upon certain players is what has destroyed this team.

  • Guest

    Only 8 more games left in the Tedford era… anyone getting excited yet about next year? Cal’s got the talent to win and they’ve got the facilities to win, all they need is a coach who doesn’t suck.

    One thing is for certain, whomever is hired as head football coach next year will be an improvement.

    • loverpoint

      How many years does he have left on his contract, if he has one more then it makes no sense financially to can him, I remember reading that he will get $5,000,000.00 if he is fired, if he has 2 or more years left on his contract then I say get rid of him, the sooner the better. The only other thing Cal needs to do is can their Athletic Director, otherwise she will end up signing another Tedford.