Cal’s Tedford blames himself

SEATTLE — Five weeks ago, California was ranked second nationally and was poised to move to the top when that week’s No. 1, Louisiana State, was defeated earlier in the day.

Instead, the Golden Bears were beaten at home by Oregon State, 31-28, and since then not much has gone right for Jeff Tedford’s slumping team.

After opening the season with five straight wins, California has since lost five of six games, including a decisive 37-23 thrashing against Washington on Saturday.

Afterward, the Bears coach delivered some loud and emphatic remarks to his players in the locker room.

That message?

“They’re not coached very well and that falls on me,” Tedford said. “So we’re going to work hard next week to get back on track. We’re going to have a good week and get back to the basics, because right now we’re not good enough. We’re beating ourselves with a lot of things, and that falls on me.

“When there’s as many mistakes as are being made,” he said, “that’s coaching.”

Since beating Oregon 31-24 on Sept. 29, California lost consecutive games to Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona State. The Bears beat Washington State earlier this month, but then lost to USC and Washington.

“The responsibility,” Tedford said, “has to fall somewhere. And I’m not going to point the finger at the kids. I’ll take the responsibility on my shoulders. Turnovers and mistakes are killing us. We have to find a way to stop that, and the only way I know how to stop that is to coach it better.”

Tedford “is definitely frustrated, just like everyone else,” said California safety Thomas DeCoud. “We need to figure something out to get back on track.”

Among their mistakes, the Bears had three turnovers against Washington. But California made an obvious boo-boo even before the opening kickoff.

Washington won the coin toss and chose to defer its choice to the second half. California then had its option to start the game, but instead of taking the ball the Bears elected to kickoff.

“They deferred and I decided to kick and kind of messed us up,” DeCoud said, a Bears captain. “We had to kickoff twice. It was just a (mistake).”

“Our captain was confused,” Tedford said. “He misunderstood the deferral.”

Next up, Cougars: Buoyed by Saturday’s win, the Huskies were already looking ahead to next Saturday’s Apple Cup showdown with Washington State.

“I can’t wait,” said running back Louis Rankin, who played a big role in last year’s 35-32 UW Apple Cup victory. “This is really the game you decided to be a Husky for. I feel like all the games before this are building up to this game. It really doesn’t matter what their record is or what our record is, it’s going to be a great game. And I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

“We’re ready for those guys,” added wide receiver Anthony Russo. “We’re always ready for the Cougars.”

“It’s the game of the year here,” chimed in cornerback Roy Lewis. “The Apple Cup is a whole different mindset. We expect them to play for everything. … And we have to go out there and play good, sound football.”

Locker looks on: UW quarterback Jake Locker was physically cleared to play on Saturday after suffering a mild neck injury against Oregon State the week before, but the coaching staff opted to go with backup Carl Bonnell.

It was, Locker admitted later, strange standing on the sideline.

“I don’t think I ever had to watch a game in high school,” he said. “I don’t remember ever having to watch a game that I could’ve played in (i.e., when not redshirting). But it was fun today. We were all playing well all day, so I just tried to encourage the guys.”

Bright future: The Huskies will lose starting wide receivers Anthony Russo and Marcel Reese, offensive lineman Chad Macklin and Rankin to graduation, but plenty of talented young offensive players will return in 2008.

Among them, of course, Locker.

When it comes to recruiting, offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said, “if you’re a receiver, if you’re a lineman, anybody, you want to play with Jake Locker. You want to play here with these guys. So we’ve got some good stuff going here offensively, we really do.”

In addition to freshman Brandon Johnson, who gained 121 yards on 23 carries against California, the Huskies are redshirting freshman Willie Griffin, a 5-8, 200-pounder from Oakland, Calif., another promising running back candidate.

Sharing the wealth: E.J. Savannah’s second-quarter interception was Washington’s 11th interception this season, which have come from 10 different defenders. Only Mesphin Forrester, who has two, has more than one interception this year.

Davenport injured again: Cornerback Byron Davenport, who was slowed by hamstring injuries at the beginning of the season, missed the game with what Willingham described as a bruise suffered in Thursday’s practice. Matt Mosley made his third start of the season in Davenport’s place.

Speaking of bruises: Cal receiver DeSean Jackson missed the second half of the game with a thigh contusion. Jackson, a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, caught four passes for 31 yards, all in the first quarter.

Big day for Perkins: Ryan Perkins, who came back from two reconstructive knee surgeries on his kicking leg to play this year, made all three of his field goal attempts, including a career-long 45 yarder.

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