Starting Today, Tedford Looks To Begin Anew

Read this Wednesday's Daily Cal for Sports Editor Jason Jones' sitdown with Tedford, discussing the Bears, the Ducks and any NFL aspirations.

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The process of erasing the memory of the 1-10 2001 season begins today when the Cal football team commences spring practice.

Today marks the first practice for new head coach Jeff Tedford in place of Tom Holmoe, who resigned after last season.

A year ago, Tedford was gearing up for a run at the national championship as Oregon's offensive coordinator.

Now, he faces the challenge of taking a team that began last season with 10 consecutive defeats and convincing it it can win.

Tedford knows turnarounds such as the one Maryland experienced last season don't happen overnight.

First, he must rebuild the damaged psyches of the Bears.

"By taking care of all the little things," Tedford said of how to rebuild the Bears' confidence. "By hard work and dedication. There's times you're going to have to sacrifice things for positive self-talk."

This time a year ago, there was plenty of talk of how improved Cal would be from its 3-8 2000 campaign. The Bears returned several starters, a few of whom the previous coaching staff expected to have breakout seasons.

But much to the chagrin of players and coaches alike, none of those expectations came to fruition. Tedford wants to build a winning mentality now, and he believes that starts today.

"Confidence comes from previously experienced success," Tedford said. "So while they haven't had it on the field in games last year, we have to create those situations in practice."

Tedford, who helped groom a likely top-5 pick in this year's NFL Draft in Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington, will be probably be judged early on by how Kyle Boller performs in his final season at Cal.

The senior-to-be had yet another up-and-down season in 2001. He battled a back injury midseason and was erratic at times while quarterbacking the Bears.

Tedford recruited Boller while at Oregon, but lost him to Cal when Boller opted for a program where he could play immediately.

On the offensive line, two key pieces will be missing with Langston Walker and Brandon Ludwig graduating. The duo anchored the left side of the line for most of 2001, and replacing them will be a key component of the spring.

Competition at running back should be interesting. Joe Igber enters his senior year after his junior year ended early with a broken clavicle. Terrell Williams stepped up as a freshman to assume the load at tailback and will compete for the starting nod.

Joseph Echema redshirted last season and has two years of eligibility remaining. He will play a key role in some capacity. Tedford had two 1,000-yard rushers last year with the Ducks, so he knows how to handle a crowded backfield.

The decision of how much each back plays in the fall will be left to runnning backs coach Ron Gould, the only holdover from the previous staff, Tedford said.

LaShaun Ward moved over from cornerback in midseason and proved to be Cal's most potent offensive threat. The spring will be vital for him as he attempts to master the nuances of playing receiver.

But confidence will be needed most on defense. The unit was one of the worst in the nation, finishing 100th out of 115 teams in total defense, 110 in scoring defense, and 113th against the pass.

Among the talent Tedford will have to work with is defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander, who became a starter as a freshman, as well as safety Nnamdi Asomugha, who will be looking to impress NFL scouts this coming season as well.

Daniel Nwangwu was the Bears' most dependable defensive lineman last season as a junior. One of the changes that could happen this season is that Nwangwu and Alexander will play more snaps together. Last season, both weren't on the field together on a regular basis due to the rotation system used by former defensive line coach Bill Dutton.

Some names to watch on defense include Jemeel Powell, who will look to bounce back from an injury-filled 2001 season at corner and fulfill the promise he showed in 2000.

Linebackers Wendell Hunter and Calvin Hosey are two athletic players who spent a lot of time on special teams who could make an impact.

Regardless of position, Tedford said every spot is open for competition.

"They (need to) have success on the practice field so they can have confidence going into the games," Tedford said.

The process begins today.


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