Holmoe Overhauls Reeling Offense

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Coming to a Memorial Stadium near you: a reevaluated offense.

It will not necessarily be any better because it will have all of the same principal actors, but the Cal football coaches are tinkering with the offense this week in order to prevent another horror show like the one that occurred last week at Fresno State.

The Bears had more delay-of-game penalties than points against the Bulldogs, but they will have a chance to improve offensively when Cal takes on a Washington State team Saturday that is giving up 27.3 points per game. The Bears scored three points against FSU.

"The bottom line is we are not scoring points and we had our opportunities," Cal coach Tom Holmoe said. "What we are doing right now is lining up with some things that will help us, making some adjustments in some of the philosophies. We're not just going to say we'll do a better job next week."

One of the things the Bears will try to do on offense is take some of the responsibilities off quarterback Kyle Boller. The sophomore was clearly overwhelmed by both the noisy FSU crowd and the demands placed on him by the coaching staff.

In the game Boller had difficulty making his checks - adjustments at the line of scrimmage based on how the defense lines up.

"It was too much for him, I'd say that he pressed a little bit," Holmoe said. "Looking back on that there are some things we can do to remedy that.

"One would be to unload him of some of the responsibilities we put on his shoulders with the calls. Not having him make so many checks, giving him plays we can run regardless. I think that will help quite a bit."

The staff will also make some adjustments in play calling. Holmoe opened up the possibility of more passes downfield and a switch in personnel at the receiver position.

"We've been able to get the ball downfield more, but we've got to get better," Holmoe said. "We've got to be able to do that more frequently."

After establishing themselves as two of the surest-handed receivers this year, freshmen Chase Lyman and Geoff McArthur will get the starting nods for the Pac-10 opener.

Holmoe said he will still spread snaps among five to six players in the receiver corps. Junior Chad Heydorff, who is coming back from a hamstring injury and saw limited action last week, will get more opportunities this week. The offense will also be bolstered by the return of Derek Swafford, who transferred to Cal in the spring and has been out since fall camp with a neck/back injury.

One area of the offense that Holmoe was somewhat pleased with was the running game. Joe Igber and Joe Echema carried the ball 28 times, compiling 138 yards (4.9 per rush).

"I think the running game has been good," Holmoe said. "If we could have had 4.9 yards on 40 carries that would have been better, not that we're not going to start running the ball every down. We still believe in balance."

This week Saleem Muhammad will return to the offense as the third tailback. Muhammad did not make the trip to Fresno last week after what Holmoe described as an "incident in practice."


Despite the fact that Washington State head coach Mike Price said that Cal punter Nick Harris is the best pooch-punter he has ever seen, the team does not want to keep punting from inside its opponent's 35-yard line like Harris did on three occasions against FSU.

As a result, Holmoe has opened up the possibility that someone besides Mark-Christian Jensen will start at place-kicker against WSU.

Jensen has been less than spectacular in the role. In the Bears' three games this year Jensen is 2-of-5 on field-goal attempts with a long of 27 yards.

Backup punter and place-kicker Tyler Fredrickson has the inside track on challenging Jensen for starting duties.

"It's open season," Holmoe said.


Despite the fact that the defense has only given up a combined 32 points in Cal's two losses, there is no ill will on the part of the Hit Squad toward the lackluster offense.

"We don't really talk about how the offense plays," nose tackle Jacob Waasdorp said. "Last year and that kind of stuff brings back sore memories. I don't think (animosity between the two sides) has really been there. We're a team - they're all family to me."

Free safety Nnamdi Asomugha takes it a step further:

"However many points the offense scores, we should give up less. It's on us."


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