Cal at season’s dead end against Oregon State

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Tony Zhou/Staff

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Don’t tell the Cal football team it did not make the postseason.

“This is our bowl game, really,” said linebacker Chris McCain of Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. bout with No. 15 Oregon State. “Oregon was our first bowl game, this is our next bowl game. We got a bowl game, we just got to win it.”

Despite being officially shut out of the postseason by Washington on Nov. 2 and routed by the Ducks a week later, the Bears (3-8, 2-6 in the Pac-12) still have plenty of motivation in Corvallis, Ore.

It is the last game for the 19 seniors on Cal’s roster, and the squad wants to send its leaders off with a win, especially after a deficient season.

The seniors, meanwhile, have one more game to don the blue and gold.

“We get to put this uniform on one (more) time,” said senior running back C.J. Anderson. “We’re gonna play our asses off.”

Then there is next year. A victory at Reser Stadium could give the youthful Bears motivation going into the offseason.

While the difference between a 3-9 season and a 4-8 season may seem trivial, McCain said it is all about setting an example. The tenacious sophomore said he will play this final game as if it were the first.

Others hope for a clean slate come September 2013.

“I feel like we’re gonna start fresh next season,” said wide receiver Chris Harper. “I don’t think (a loss) would have a great effect on our season.”

Saturday’s result could substantially impact head coach Jeff Tedford, who is on the hot seat after missing a bowl for the second time in three seasons.

Perhaps in a nod to fonder times, Tedford wore a Holiday Bowl sweatshirt in his weekly press conference Tuesday. He plans to meet with Athletic Director Sandy Barbour on Sunday to discuss his future at Cal, a once perennial top-25 program that is just 15-21 since 2010.

“We really have to put it all under a microscope — how can I be better as a head coach?” Tedford said. “What can I do to help our staff, what can I do to help our players? So the first place I will look is the mirror … We’ll do a deep dive and figure out where we can improve.”

But before the 11-year head coach takes time to self-reflect, there is a game to be played — between two teams both expected to start their second-string quarterback.

Sean Mannion will take over for Cody Vaz, who injured his ankle late in the Beavers’ 27-23 loss to Stanford last Saturday. Mannion began the season as the starter but was regulated to backup after a four-interception game following a knee surgery.

Junior Allan Bridgford is set to lead Cal’s offense, which could run into trouble against an Oregon State defense that allows fewer than 20 points and 100 rushing yards per game.

Bridgford’s self-proclaimed “average” performance in last week’s start — 9-for-21, 113 yards — did nothing to dissuade his teammates’ support or morale.

“We all we got at the end of the day,” McCain said. “The season didn’t go as planned, but we really can’t take back time. We can’t replay any games.”

While the Beavers (7-2, 5-2) can make the Pac-12 title game if they win out, Saturday’s contest could be Tedford’s last with the Bears.

Harper — whose 38-reception, 518-receiving-yard campaign ranks among the best all-time at Cal for a freshman receiver — does not want to see his coach leave. Still, the team mostly tries to avoid the Tedford rumors swirling around Berkeley.

“Right now we got Tedford, and we riding with Tedford,” McCain said. “Hopefully Tedford will be back next season, and we can pick up and start off again next season.

“At the end of the day, we don’t make no decisions.”

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

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  • king ofthe tightwat hill

    tedford will caoch at green bay

  • snarkk

    The Bears not only did NOT play “their asses off” last night, they laid down like dogs for Tedford. Nothing worse than that. Shows just another reason why this program has to go in another coaching direction. Tedford and all his assistants need to be shown the door…

  • Killerbee

    Bye Tedford,

  • MondayQB57

    …. another game, another blow out.

  • MondayQB57

    Thank god basketball is here. Tedford can learn from Montgomery how to coach. Mike has never had a losing season. He’s won with big guys, little guys, non-star recruits, five star recruits. It’s the attention to details, adaptive game strategies, and playing smart that makes Mike such a good coach. It’s never been about Mike but always about the team.

  • MondayQB57

    42-7. The game is still in the third Q and we are behind so bad. I saw a little bit of the game. Same stuff. We show pass, we pass. We show run, we run. We show going right, we go right. We show going left, we go left. Thus, we end up going backwards a few yards here, a few yards there, and a yard or two on first down. Then we go back a lot of yards because some dumb ass penalty by our inept O line. Time to turn off the TV.

    We have a 3-and-out offense and our defense is not designed to be a 3-and-out stopper. It’s no wonder we get blown out more than 17 points in 1/3 of the games in the past four years.

    HOPEFULLY, THIS GAME WILL BE THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN AND I KNOW IT ISN’T GOING TO BE MY COFFIN.

  • poopy pants

    none of these articles ever mention that cal has a top ten schedule in terms of difficulty. all the daily cal is reporting is facts everyone is aware of

    • MondayQB57

      Nevada? Utah? Top Ten? Check it out buddy – past 4 years, we have lost 1/3 of our games by more than 17 points. That to me, is a blow out one every three game. Top ten, bottom ten, middle ten – across the board. Go look at history – it’s never been wrong.

  • poopy pants

    graw

  • Bearly Breathing

    Thus far, it’s actually NOT a 3-9 season because ONE of those three was an FCS school that we should have been embarrassed to play. 2-9 and soon to be 2-10 is more like it.

    Of course, Tedford’s overall record would be considerably worse if we didn’t count those FCS schools like Presbyterian, Eastern Washington, Portland State et. al. You know, like we used to NOT play BEFORE Tedford became the head coach.

    At any rate, Tedford’s Sunday meeting with Barbour more or less spells his doom. No way she’d schedule that meeting at that time if the news were favorable for Tedford. At least, we can hope not. The sooner Cal makes a change, the better and you can’t get much sooner than Sunday.

    • poopy pants

      ^lame