Midweek Notebook: Week 3
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Category: Sports > Fall > Football
Film has been pretty useless to the Cal football team's offense this season. For the second time in three games, the No. 8 Bears are preparing for an opponent with a new defensive coordinator -- and have little footage of the team's current defensive tendencies as a result.
Minnesota, which hosts Cal on Saturday at 9 a.m. PDT, hired Kevin Cosgrove as its new co-defensive coordinator before the season. Cosgrove held the same position at Nebraska from 2004-07 before sitting out last year, and he now shares coordinator responsibilities with Gophers secondary coach Ronnie Lee.
Preparation was a little tougher two weeks ago, when the Bears were getting ready for Maryland with absolutely zero film of the Terrapins' new defense in action. But Cal (2-0) has only two games on tape with Minnesota running Cosgrove and Lee's schemes, and one of them is basically worthless. The Gophers (2-0) played Air Force last weekend, and defending the Falcons' unique option-heavy offense takes a team out of its normal tendencies.
"We haven't had great film this year to try to prepare from, and this is no different," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "Really, you're only going off the Syracuse game."
Bears quarterback Kevin Riley said that the offense hasn't watched any footage of the Huskers to get familiar with Cosgrove. Riley has seen both of Minnesota's games this year and said the Gophers have done "a little bit of everything."
"They bring some zone pressure, did a little bit of man -- more man against Air Force," he said.
"They've been stout against the run, so we'll probably pass the ball a little bit, which could be fun. It's going to be our first big test."
Minnesota is allowing an average of 3.5 yards per rush through its first two games -- both wins -- and has given up only one rushing touchdown.
Much was made of Tedford's decision last season to leave on Friday for an early game at Maryland, particularly when Cal started off slowly and suffered its first loss of the year.
For Saturday's early kickoff at Minnesota, the Bears are flying out on Thursday -- not because Tedford thinks the quick turnaround was to blame for Cal's loss to the Terrapins, but because he's open to experimentation.
"You don't have anything to compare (your normal schedule) to unless you try it," he said.
"We're going to travel there on Thursday and see what that's all about. But really, it's only changing our schedule by about three hours."
Arriving a day early will give the Bears a full day to adjust to the new time zone. It should also keep the players from feeling rushed like they did in Maryland. For that trip, the team landed on Friday evening, held their pre-game walkthrough, then went straight to sleep in preparation for the East-Coast equivalent of a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call for the game.
They'll also have some time to get used to the weather. The humidity in Maryland was stifling, unexpected and probably a factor in the sluggish start.
"When we landed I was like, "Aw yeah, it's about to be cold,'" nose tackle Derrick Hill said. "We stepped off the plane and it's still like 80 degrees with the rain. I think that going up there earlier will allow us not only to adapt to the situation and environment, but it will also let our bodies get used to being in that type of weather."
Asked to evaluate the play of Cal's offense through its first two games, Tedford chose to forgo its 55.5-points-per-game average and focus on how the Bears have played nearly mistake-free football. The offense has committed only one penalty in two games and hasn't turned the ball over. It has also converted on 57 percent of its third downs.
"There's room for improvement everywhere," Tedford said. "But I'd say for the most part we've been pleased with the production so far."
-- The Bears emerged from their blowout of Eastern Washington with only one new injury. Fullback Brian Holley sustained a mild concussion. Tedford said Holley would not practice Tuesday but should be fine by Saturday.
-- Despite his inconsistency against the Eagles, Giorgio Tavecchio will continue to handle kickoff duties.
"We've got to get him comfortable and consistent," Tedford said. "You see a kick down to the two-yard line and then one to the 15.
"Hopefully the more we do it, the more success he has, the more he feels comfortable and confident in the game."
-- Riley on studying the footage of Minnesota and Air Force: "If we get put in the double wing this week, I've watched plenty of film. So it's good."
Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]
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