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Cal TE Asher Alberding to Face Best Friend in Return to North Texas

Transfer Alberding and Bears line coach Mike Bloesch were with North Texas last season and go back to Denton, Texas, Saturday
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The transfer portal can create unexpected matchups.

Cal tight end Asher Alberding and North Texas linebacker Kevin Wood played together at North Texas for four seasons and became best friends.

They are still best friends, and stay in close contact, but on Saturday in Denton, Texas, they will be adversaries when Cal faces North Texas.  It's possible Alberding, listed as the Bears' second-string tight end, will be asked to block Wood on some plays, and Wood may have to cover Alberding on a passing play.

"My best friend in the whole world is Kevin Wood, a linebacker, No. 21," Alberding said this week in the video atop this story. "It's going to be really cool. We talk literally every single day. It'll be a cool, kind of weird experience, being so close and best friends, and it'll be really, really cool."

Kevin Wood

Kevin Wood

Alberding was a true freshman at North Texas when the Mean Green played at Cal in 2019, although Alberding did not play in that game.  But he was aware that Cal was scheduled to play at North Texas four years later, so when he committed to transfer to Cal last January, he knew he would be facing his former team in the 2023 opener.

That was not the case for Mike Bloesch, who was North Texas' offensive coordinator the past three seasons. When he decided to take Cal's offer to become the Bears offensive line coach and run-game coordinator last December, he was shocked to learn that his first game as a Cal coach would be against his former team.

"When I did accept the job, the first thing I did was look at the schedule, and I was shocked at the way it all lined up," Bloesch said.

Last year, at North Texas, he had not looked ahead to the Mean Green's 2023 schedule, so he was caught off guard when his first game as a Cal coach would be at the stadium he had called home the previous three years. 

"It's definitely kind of surreal," Bloesch said.

His wife and children will fly to Texas for the game and to see old friends. They know a lot of people in Denton.

No one is more familiar with North Texas' current offensive personnel than Bloesch, and presumably that might help Cal's preparation to some extent.

"I definitely know a lot of the personnel on their football team," Bloesch said. "I recruited a bunch of those kids. I'm excited to see them. But they've got a new coaching staff, they've got new schemes, they've got new positions."

He minimized how much influence he could have in Cal's game-planning for Saturday's contest, saying most of the analysis coaches do on opposing players is done by way of film study.

But first-year North Texas head coach Eric Morris figures Bloesch does provide an edge for Cal.

"You're definitely going to have some inside information," Morris said this week.

Bloesch is well aware of the talent North Texas has at running back in Ayo Adeyi and Ikaika Ragsdale, who combined to rush for 1,562 yards last season.

"Those guys are tough and electric," he said.

So Alberding and Bloesch will return to North Texas' DATCU Stadium, which is where they participated in their final regular-season game of 2022, a 21-17 victory over Rice on November 26. 

This time they hope North Texas loses.

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