Cal Bears Now the Target
by Glenn Dickey
Nov 08, 2006

THE CAL BEARS find themselves in a very unusual position, as the team with a figurative X on their chests.

“We know that we have to expect teams to be really up for us,” coach Jeff Tedford said at the weekly media luncheon, “because it would be a real plus for their programs to beat us. I talk to our players about that every week.”

In their last two home games, the Bears faced two desperate teams, Washington and UCLA, who were battling against previous disappointing losses and trying to keep flickering bowl hopes alive. The Huskies led the Bears at halftime and took them into overtime with a fluke “Hail Mary” pass on the last play in regulation time. The Bruins made it close in the first half before the Bears scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to put the game away.

Neither game was pretty, but the bottom line is, the Bears won both. This is the time of year when Top 10 teams have problems with inferior opponents. UCLA should have beaten Notre Dame. Ohio State had a battle with Illinois last Saturday while No. 2 Michigan was struggling against Ball State.

Meanwhile, the Bears have won eight straight since the disastrous season opener against Tennessee. Since then, the Vols have lost twice and fallen out of the top 10.

That doesn’t mean Tedford is satisfied with his team. Asked if he were concerned about the fact that the Bruins gained 516 yards last Saturday, he said, “You never like to see the defense giving up that many yards. For one thing, you want your offense to get back out on the field and you can’t get them out there if the other team is moving the ball. There was some sloppy tackling out there early. We’ve got to learn to wrap up guys and put them down. But the defense did an outstanding job of keeping the Bruins out of the end zone, making big plays in the red zone.”

Like all coaches, Tedford cautions his team not to look ahead, and his task in preparing for this week’s game in Tucson is made easier because the Wildcats upset Washington State last Saturday – and in Pullman.

But, let’s not kid ourselves. The game everybody is looking at is the Nov. 18 game in Los Angeles against USC. You can bet the Bears will be firing on all cylinders in that one, and there will probably be some things the Trojans haven’t seen on video, both offensively and defensively. “We’re always tweaking things a little, depending on the strengths of the opposing team,” Tedford said. “The scheme remains the same, but the plays might look a little different."

MORE BEARS: Asked if he had spent extra time watching video of the vicious block Thomas DeCoud laid on Corey Bosworth to clear the path for DeSean Jackson’s 72-yard punt return for a touchdown, Tedford said, “No, but Thomas did. He didn’t remember it.” Both DeCoud and Bosworth were knocked out on the play.

BEST EVER? Those of us who have watched Cal football for a time think that Marshawn Lynch is in the debate over best post-World War II running back.

I never saw Jackie Jensen play, but I’ve seen everybody in the last 50 years and I’d put Lynch in the debate with Jensen and Chuck Muncie, and perhaps at the top. Russell White might have been in the debate but he really had only one outstanding year before he got fat and became ordinary.

Muncie was bigger and stronger, but Lynch is more dangerous as a receiver. Against UCLA, he took a short screen pass, made two great moves to freeze defenders and, zippo, he was in the end zone.

A’S TO FREMONT: I don’t like the idea of the A’s moving down the freeway, but it’s better than Portland or Las Vegas.

Oakland blew it big time. When Robert Bobb was city manager, he had a plan which would have incorporated both mayor Jerry Brown’s housing project and a park in downtown Oakland, using urban renewal money to help finance it, in the same way that San Jose built its downtown arena. Brown would have no part of it, and he forced Bobb out. Since then, Ignacio De La Fuente has been the only Oakland politician who has had any plans for an Oakland park. De La Fuente was defeated in the Oakland mayoral race by Ron Dellums, who has made it plain that he won’t be spending much time on any issue, let alone a complex one like this.

The recent history of downtown ballparks shows that they’ve been important in the economic growth of dormant downtowns, from Baltimore to Denver. Even in San Francisco, which doesn’t need that much help, the area around the Giants park has been a boomtown since the park opened.

Of course, the Oakland downtown doesn’t need any help. Oh, yeah.

NFL AT MIDSEASON: The most overcalled penalty these days is roughing the passer. I understand the concern for quarterbacks, but officials often fail to take into account the fact that a defender has already started his move before the quarterback starts to throw. This isn’t flag football. . . The race for No. 32 is more spirited than the race for No. 1 this year. Halfway through the season, there are 13 teams with no more than three wins, including our local stalwarts. That’s NFL parity, 2006. . . Another example of NFL futility: In consecutive games that I watched, the Raiders got 98 yards of total offense and the 49ers 134 – and they both won. The 49ers’ 9-3 win over Minnesota was agonizing to watch, but not quite as bad as a 1978 game in which the Niners beat Tampa Bay, 6-3. Hands down the worst pro game I’ve ever seen.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: I’m starting a campaign to have The Star-Spangled Banner played before the start of every performance at the opera, symphony, ballet and theatre. After all, we can’t have people accusing opera goers of being less patriotic than sports fans.

TICKETS! TICKETS! TICKETS! Looking ahead to the holiday season, tickets will be available through the links on this site for bowl games, including the Rose Bowl, where we hope the Bears will be. There are also popular holiday programs, including Radio City Christmas, Wicked and Jersey Boys.

Cal football tickets will be available on this link as well as tickets for these big college football games:
--Michigan at Ohio State
--Notre Dame at USC
--Auburn at Alabama
--Nebraska at USC
--Texas A& M at Texas
--USC at UCLA.
Tickets are also available for NFL games and these hot concerts:
--Barbra Streisand, through November 20.
--Mariah Carey, through November 10
--Red Hot Chili Peppers, through December 17.
--Pearl Jam, through November 5.
Tickets are also available for the Rolling Stones tour.

What do YOU think? Let me know!

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