Midweek Report: Week 10

Photo: Coach Jeff Tedford and the Bears are preparing to take on No. 1 Oregon at Memorial Stadium this Saturday.
Anne Marie Schuler/File
Coach Jeff Tedford and the Bears are preparing to take on No. 1 Oregon at Memorial Stadium this Saturday.


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With less than a week until No. 1 Oregon descends upon Berkeley, Brock Mansion offered a curious evaluation of the Cal football team.

"I think we have some of the best weapons in America to deal with high-scoring opponents," he said after Tuesday's practice. "I just gotta do my job and put the ball in their hands."

A tad optimistic, perhaps, especially considering that the Bears (5-4, 3-3 in the Pac-10) are flirting with the worst record of coach Jeff Tedford's tenure.

Even so, the assessment is indicative of just how much Saturday's 4:30 p.m. game at Memorial Stadium means for the players.

"We haven't come out and practiced with this much enthusiasm since probably the first week after fall camp, so I was really excited," Mansion said. "There's some kind of energy today."

Added linebacker Mike Mohamed: "This is basically our BCS game."

It certainly won't be for the undefeated Ducks, whose top-ranked offense will likely propel them into the BCS Championship in January.

To say their attack has put up video game numbers doesn't even do it justice. Oregon uses less than two minutes per touchdown drive. It only uses around 23 seconds to set up its next play - 32 percent less than the average team.

"I'm not sure if you can really slow them down," Mohamed said. "You know, they really pride themselves on fast tempo. But what we can try to do is, you know, try to hang with them."

Conditioning will be a major focus during Cal practices this week, but even that isn't particularly promising.

Coach Lane Kiffin had USC simulate the Ducks' practice speed for a full two weeks before playing them. The Trojans lost at home, 53-32. They gave up 24 consecutive points in the final 23 minutes.

The one stat that bodes well for the Bears is this: 47.3. That's their scoring average at home, compared to 16.2 on the road. Nevertheless, an underrated defense that boasts tremendous athleticism tilts a shootout to Oregon's favor even more.

"It's got to be a low-scoring game," Tedford said. "Not many people have outscored them in the 50s. The key lies in being able to hold them to a manageable number on offense."

The Grass is Greener

There's a gem of a story buried deep within Oregon's roster: redshirt freshman Dane Ebanez.

The wide receiver hails from North Pole, Alaska. The town of 1,778 isn't actually at the top of the world, but it's about as barren - hardly the kind of place you'd expect to find a Division I football player.

After getting six calls a week during his junior year at North Pole High, Ebanez turned down soccer scholarships from schools such as Air Force and Cal State Fullerton to walk on for the Ducks.

He'd starred as a prep running back, receiver and kicker, and opted for the sport he thought he would enjoy more. Standing at 5-foot-9, 177 pounds, Ebanez showed off enough to be one of six players selected from the group of 40.

Quick Hits

-Wide receiver Keenan Allen participated fully in practice Tuesday and is on track to play against Oregon. The freshman hurt his knee on his first pregame route at Washington State and sat out, but a later MRI revealed no structural damage.

"Unless something happens between now and then, he looks to be full go," Tedford said during the weekly press conference. "Stranger things have happened, like in pregame, but he looked fine today."

-Mansion has become a little more comfortable after making his first start, a good sign for a team that is entering the most harrowing portion of its schedule.

"You start noticing a lot more little things," he said. "You get a feel for different pressures ...

"Coach was telling me how much growth you're see from the first game to the second game and I've already noticed it."

Tags: MIKE MOHAMED, JEFF TEDFORD, BROCK MANSION, OREGON, CAL FOOTBALL


Jack Wang covers football. Contact him at [email protected]



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