Tedford tired of talking about Cal’s early stumble

  • By Mike Allende / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, October 3, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

Jeff Tedford is tired of hearing about Tennessee. It was, after all, more than a month ago that his Golden Bears lost in Knoxville 35-18, making some wonder if the hype surrounding Cal was for real.

Tedford would love people to notice that the Bears have bounced back pretty nicely from that loss. Cal is now 4-1, having scored at least 41 points in its past four games. It ranks eighth in the nation in passing offense, ninth in total offense and eighth in scoring offense.

California, now ranked No. 16, has a huge challenge this week when it plays host to No. 11 Oregon.

“I’ve never seen such a hangover from one game,” Tedford said. “Now we’re into the sixth game of the year and people are still talking about the first game. It’s like that thing has hung with us for six weeks now. Hopefully we can put that one outing behind us. Since then, we’ve played pretty well, but it seems like every question I answer is, ‘Since the Tennessee game…’. I’m waiting for when that game gets put in the past.”

Beating the Ducks, who have the fourth-ranked total offense in the nation and the No. 11 pass defense, should help.

“I think it would make strides in doing that,” Tedford said. “Oregon is a Top-10 team. It’s important to play well not so much to put Tennessee behind us but because it’s what we have to do to stay in the conference hunt.”

Leading the way for Cal has been first-year starter Nate Longshore, who rallied from a mediocre game against the Volunteers to become one of the nation’s top passers. Longshore ranks seventh in the nation in pass efficiency and is second in the Pac-10 in passing yards per-game and fourth in total offense. In the four games since the Tennessee game, Longshore has completed 69.4 percent of his passes (77-for-111) for 1,136 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. But Tedford said Longshore actually played well against the Volunteers as well.

“He didn’t play that poorly that game, he actually played pretty well,” Tedford said. “But he’s got to have some help. It’s the people around him playing better.”

Tedford said his receivers are catching the ball better and the protection is better. The defense is also preventing big plays that hurt it in Week One.

The coaches who have played California said the Tennessee game was not a good judge of how good the Bears are.

“The Tennessee game was an anomaly,” said Arizona State’s Dirk Koetter, who’s team lost to Cal 49-21. “It was the opening game with 90,000 fans. There was a seven-minute stretch where everything went right for Tennessee and wrong for Cal. If they played on a neutral field, it might have been different.”

Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said he knows how good Cal is and that this game – between two of the four undefeated teams in the conference – is a big one.

“It’s two high-scoring teams,” Bellotti said. “Something’s got to give. It’s going to be a major collision. I think it’s going to be a tremendously exciting game for the fans.”

ASU struggles “bizarre”: A year ago, Arizona State had one of the best passing offenses in the nation, and Rudy Carpenter led the nation in pass efficiency. This year, though, Carpenter has taken a step back. Carpenter is sixth in the conference in pass efficiency and fifth in passing yards per-game, averaging 210.4 on a conference-worst 54.2 percent. He’s also last with nine interceptions.

Koetter called his team’s passing problems “bizarre” and said there are three problems plaguing the team.

“Part One is our receivers are not playing as well as they need to and Rudy isn’t trusting them to be in the right spots,” Koetter said. “Number two is we’re not consistent enough in our protection. Third is Rudy has to get back to taking what the defense gives him and not make everything into a big play.”

Ducks lose defender: Oregon has lost starting defensive tackle Cole Linehan, likely for the season. Linehan will have foot surgery today.

“He’ll probably have a pin put in,” Bellotti said. “It’s a question of how quickly it heals. Odds are slim he’ll come back this season, though he might be ready for a bowl game.”

Linehan is tied for second on the team with three tackles for loss and has 12 tackles.

Stanford to focus on the run: Stanford is 0-5 and has been outscored 187-63, so now seems to be a good time to play at No. 12 Notre Dame. OK, maybe not, but the Cardinal has no choice. So how does coach Walt Harris expect to slow down the Irish?

“Looking at their stats, they’re not running the ball near as effectively as they’re passing it,” Harris said. “I have nothing but respect for that offensive line and (running back) Darius Walker. … We’ve got to get the down and distance in our favor. The best way to do that is dominate the run game and control the pass game.”

Of course, Stanford ranks last – by far – in the Pac-10 in rushing defense, allowing 282.8 yards a game. Second-worst is Oregon, allowing 163.8.

Love for Isaiah: A few of the Pac-10 coaches talked about how impressed they’ve been with Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback, with Arizona coach Mike Stoops saying he’s not sure there’s “been a more valuable player in the conference to this point.”

“There’s nothing he can’t do with the ball,” Stoops added. “Whether he’s an NFL quarterback I don’t know but he’s playing in the NFL next year some way, some how.”

Moore to start: Despite Oregon State’s troubles, coach Mike Riley said Matt Moore would remain as the starting quarterback. There’s been speculation that redshirt freshman Sean Canfield would take over. Moore is last in the Pac-10 in passing yards, averaging just 139.8 a game. His 559 yards are 216 fewer than the second-fewest among starters.

“I won’t say there’s no chance (Canfield would start) but right now Matt is our starting quarterback,” Riley said. “I’ve toyed with the idea of getting Sean time predetermined going into a ballgame.”

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