Tedford Defends Decision to Go for Field Goal in Fourth
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Category: Sports > Fall > Football
Almost immediately upon emerging from the Cal football team's euphoric locker room following the Bears' 34-28 win over Stanford, coach Jeff Tedford was asked to explain his decision to center the ball on third down from inside the Cardinal's 10-yard line on Cal's final drive.
Leading 31-28, the Bears faced a third-and-eight on Stanford's nine-yard line with 2:50 left. Rather than taking a shot at the end zone or handing the ball to tailback Shane Vereen, who had already carried 42 times, Tedford had quarterback Kevin Riley take the snap and a knee in the middle of the field to set up Vince D'Amato's 28-yard field goal. D'Amato converted the attempt to put Cal up by six.
As a result, the Cardinal got the ball back with 2:39 remaining, in a situation where a touchdown could win the gameľalbeit with no timeouts left.
"I wanted to make sure that they were going to use all their timeouts," Tedford said. "I didn't want to risk any ball getting on the ground, wanted to make sure it was a touchdown game."
The decision started to look more puzzling when Giorgio Tavecchio's line drive kickoff was fielded by Stanford's up-back and returned to the 42-yard line. Several plays later, Toby Gerhart caught a short pass from Andrew Luck and rumbled 29 yards up the sideline to give the Cardinal a first-and-10 from the Bears' 13-yard line with just under two minutes remaining.
Still, Tedford said, at no point did he reconsider settling for the field goal.
"They had to score a touchdown," Tedford said. "You can always second-guess yourself, but there's still a lot of time left. We could've gotten the ball back and taken it right back."
They didn't have to, of course. Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh followed with a questionable decision of his own, going to the air on consecutive plays rather than handing the ball to Gerhart, the Pac-10's most powerful running back. Luck's pass on second down was intercepted by linebacker Mike Mohamed, ending the Cardinal's comeback bid.
Offensive Line Gets a Push
Showing the consistency that had been missing for most of this season, Cal's offense scored touchdowns on its first three possessions of the second half, all on drives of 72 yards or more. Much of that had to do with the Bears' offensive line, which not only opened running holes for Vereen, but also made a few suggestions in play calling.
Senior left tackle Mike Tepper said that, at halftime, an offensive assistant asked the linemen about what kinds of plays they wanted to run in the second half. Tepper said that the assistant brought their input to offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who, "came out saying, 'Hey, it's up to you guys.'"
"We were like, 'This play, this play, this play,'" Tepper said. "And for the most part, they followed that. And our coordinator, Coach Ludwig, did an amazing job of play selection and dealing with situations."
Ľ Vereen was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation's BCS National Offensive Player of the Week, and was one of four nominees for the AT&T All-America Player of the Week Award.
The sophomore carried 42 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]
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