College football: Cal is hoping time is on its side
Pacific Bears ready for playing in EDT
Saturday should be just another morning at the office for California’s football players. Although their place of business will be different, the time they start work won’t be.
Cal and Ohio State are scheduled to kick off at Ohio Stadium just past noon, which will be 9 a.m. in the visitors’ Pacific time zone.
But since last season, the Golden Bears have been practicing during the week at 8 a.m., before going to class in the afternoon.
“I think because we practice in the mornings now, it’s not going to be that big of an adjustment because our kids are used to getting up at 5:30, 6 o’clock every morning,” coach Jeff Tedford said yesterday.
“Before, it was a little bit of a concern. But now that we practice early, I think it’ll be fine. Our body clocks are kind of set to waking up early every day.”
Cal’s first two games, both at home, also kicked off at noon, albeit Pacific time.
One accommodation Tedford will make to better acclimate to the time change is to travel east on Thursday, a day earlier than usual, he said, so his team can “get the body clock set on Friday, hopefully,” with an early wakeup call that morning.
Cal has a 5-1 record during Tedford’s tenure as coach in road games that begin before noon Pacific time. But only one of those games was against a ranked team, in 2002, when the Bears routed No. 15 Michigan State 46-22 in Tedford’s first season. Ohio State is ranked 12th.
Also, the last of those victories was three years ago, the Bears’ last winning season. They are 13-14 since, have lost six consecutive games to ranked opponents and their 1-1 start to 2012 has not inspired confidence that a turnaround is imminent.
After having to play home games last season in the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park while its stadium was renovated, Cal returned home to Berkeley on Sept. 1 and lost 31-24 to Nevada.
Last weekend, it needed a 30-point fourth quarter to pull away for a 50-31 victory over Southern Utah, a team from the Football Championship Subdivision.
Regardless, Tedford said he thinks his players have the confidence to play better this weekend against an opponent, and in a setting, much more formidable than they have faced so far.
“We’ve had to play through a couple things the first two weeks that have kind of (prepared) us,” he said. “We got down early in the first game and came back and had momentum at the end and then got beat in the last minute. Then, last week, we got off to a slow start and everybody persevered and played through some things.
“Obviously, being on the road in such a hostile environment and in such a traditional place is going to be exciting. But I think our guys are ready for that test against a very good football team. Some of the young guys, their first road trip, they may be a little bit big-eyed in the beginning, but I have confidence they’ll settle in quickly.”
Cal has not scored in the first quarter, trailing Nevada 14-0 and Southern Utah 3-0. Tedford blamed being “overaggressive” for early penalties and said “bad breaks” also contributed.
“We have talked about it,” he said, “making sure we come out fast and we stay disciplined.”
Saturday will be the seventh time in coach Jeff Tedford’s 11 seasons that Cal kicks off a road game before noon Pacific Time. The Bears won five of the first six:
|2002||No. 15 Michigan St.||W, 46-22|
|2004||Air Force||W, 56-14|
|2007||Colorado State||W, 34-28|