Tedford Talks About 2012 Season As Fall Camp Breaks

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By Jim McGill, Staff Writer
Posted Aug 4, 2012
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2014 BearInsider.com


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Following a 7-6 season that exceded many prognosticators' predictions yet failed to fulfil their own expectations, Cal is entering the 2012 season with high hopes as the team prepares to break fall camp this evening at Witter Field in Berkeley.

Each season, Tedford spends a great deal of time analyzing areas where the team fell short, targeting areas to learn from and improve on in subsequent seasons. This year was no different.

"We need to stay away from turnovers to be successful," said Tedford. "That's the one huge stat that has a major impact on whether or not we're winning or losing games, the turnover ratio.

"We need to get better in everything, though. Turnovers, eliminating penalties, execution -the things that beat yourself- those are key.

"Each year brings a new set of circumstances and challenges.

"This year, one of the key focuses in camp will be to bring along the new receivers as quickly as possible. We're fairly inexperienced there so it's going to be imperative that we're able to get them going fast.

"But each and every day on the field, the goal is to improve on something -performance, technique -all phases."

In Cal's most successful seasons, Tedford encouraged and received veteran player leadership, challenging players to take ownership of the direction of the team. The idea is the same this season.

"Yes, internal leadership is critical," said Tedford. "You try to set the stage for them to be able to express their leadership. I think the big thing with that goes back to summer. We talked about it in the spring, that it's going to be important for player leadership to play a big role. To be able to show other players the right way to do things and what it means to be a leader are important.

"I think they understand how important it is but not everyone's comfortable being a vocal leader. Some want to lead by example. But people need to step up to say things, as well. That's been a big thing throughout the summer, people stepping up vocally. And we'll continue to work on that this fall, especially with senior leadership.

"The group of guys you'd expect to be leaders; guys like Josh Hill, Kendrick Payne, Aaron Tipoti, Brian Schwenke, Eric Stevens, Zack Maynard -or the quarterback position in general- Zack or Allan Bridgford- it's not just one person. It's a group of players that will lead."

On offense, the Bears had a learning curve at both the quarterback and running back positions, with Maynard starting in his first year in the program at quarterback and Isi Sofele and Will Kapp starting at tailback and fullback for the first time.

It wasn't until both Maynard and Sofele started to execute more consistently that the Bears' offensive performance became more consistent. 

With Maynard and Sofele coming back with solid starting experience and veteran fullback Eric Stevens -who missed all of 2011 with an acl tear- also returning in full health- the Bears will be in much better shape at those positions.

"I think that's big," said Tedford. "I think the lack of experience at each of those positions had a lot to do with how we did last season.

"Isi got better as the season went along. That experience really helps. People can play faster when they really know what they're doing. I think he really developed a lot during the year as a runner -hitting the holes quicker, running harder as the season went along, being more elusive.

"Isi had a tendency early on to try and go so fast that sometimes he'd trip himself and fall down. He got a feel for the speed of the game and that helped a lot. Knowing the speed of the game doesn't mean you always run as fast as you can but rather hit things when you need to.

"C.J. Anderson has really worked hard and got himself into shape, too. He got better and better during the year and had a really good spring.

"To have those guys as a 1-2 punch -we've been fortunate over the years to have two really good backs each year to feed off one another- those two guys will play a huge role.

"Then you've got other guys like Brendon Bigelow, who has developed a really good feel for the game and has really come back strong with spring camp. We tried to run him hard between the tackles to get him to feel that pace and intensity after coming back from injury and he did a really nice job. He's got his confidence back. He really feels like he can cut it loose now. And we know that when he gets the ball in the open field, he can take it all the way.

"We're looking for him to take it to the next level this fall and build off of his spring and summer.

"Daniel Lasco was looking really good, too, but unfortunately, he was hurt a lot of spring so he didn't get to do as much as he wanted to do but we're looking forward to seeing him in fall camp, too.

"I feel like we've got some good depth in the backfield. 

"I think Eric's getting there. He had a pretty serious knee injury but from everything I've heard, he's doing well and he's excited to be back in there. He's a very competitive guy so I think he's ready for a big year.

"Our fullbacks don't carry the ball a lot but are instrumental in blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield and protection so if he stays healthy, he can do a good job for him.

"Maximo Espitia and Cameron Krebs, who we moved from linebacker and who's very smart and physical and has done a very good job for us, provide nice depth."

On defense, the Bears lose starting defensive ends Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu but are bringing in Mustafa Jalil and Deandre Coleman to fill their shoes, with both players playing key minutes last season and showing loads of potential.

The Bears will also be replacing starting inside linebackers Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt, with new Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt in the mix to start as well as sophomores David Wilkerson and Jason Gibson as well senior Robert Mullins -finally healthy after years of injuries.

The Bears return both starting cornerbacks in seniors Marc Anthony and Steve Williams, with soph Stefan McClure hoping to provide strong depth, provided he's able to return from serious knee injury.

"We'll evaluate Stefan in camp and see how his knee responds," said Tedford. "You don't want to rush something like that."

Others possibly in the mix include former cornerback Joel Willis, who moved to receiver last spring but could potentially move back if needed or even incoming frosh Cedric Dozier, though Dozier's move would be less likely.

"Not so much Dozier yet but I think it would be a natural move for Willis," said Tedford. "We're going to have to talk about that. I've already kind of broached the subject with Joel, if that would be a good move, depending on how McClure is.

"We have to see what guys like Copprich and Fletcher look, too."

As for outside lineback Brennan Scarlett, Tedford noted that he's good to go and ready to participate in full fall camp.

Stay tuned for updates and interviews following tonight's kickoff of fall camp.

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