After California's 34-31 upset of No. 3 USC in triple overtime
last Saturday, the Bears sang in their locker room with Cal alum
and Berkeley native Adam Duritz, the dreadlocked songwriter and
lead singer of the Counting Crows. Bears coach Jeff Tedford can't
match Duritz's musical talents, but as the Trojans found out,
Tedford is just as creative in his own way.
Already renowned as a quarterback guru, Tedford added to his
reputation as one of college football's brightest offensive minds
with a beautifully devised game plan that confounded USC's
defense, especially in the first half. The Trojans, who trailed
21-7 at halftime, were kept off-balance from the start as Cal
(3-3) stretched them out with reverses, pounded them between the
tackles and kept them on their heels with a low-risk passing
attack. The Bears rolled up 469 yards of offense, the most the
Trojans have allowed all season, and senior running back
Adimchinobe Echemandu rushed for 147 yards, breaking a streak of
16 straight games in which USC had not allowed a runner to gain
100 yards. "The plan was just to be diverse," Tedford said.
"They're so good defensively that you can't be predictable."
In his previous stints as an assistant at Fresno State and
Oregon, Tedford has had a hand in the development of quarterbacks
Trent Dilfer, Joey Harrington and David Carr, and last year, in
his first season at California, he helped transform Kyle Boller
from a three-year disappointment into a first-round draft pick of
the Baltimore Ravens. Against USC, Tedford lost starting
quarterback Aaron Rodgers to rib and ankle injuries after Rodgers
had thrown for 217 yards and two touchdowns. But Tedford adroitly
steered backup Reggie Robertson through the fourth quarter and
three overtimes without missing a beat. Robertson completed 9 of
12 passes for 109 yards.
The victory gives Cal a chance to continue the resurgence it
began last year. Tedford inherited a team that had gone 1-10 in
2001 and led it to a 7-5 record. Future Pac-10 opponents would be
wise not to take them as lightly as the Trojans apparently did.
"I'm probably going to take some heat next week for not having
the team prepared," said USC coach Pete Carroll.
October 5, 2003
Carroll's critics shouldn't be too harsh, though. He's the coach
who turned the Trojans around and rebuilt the program into a
national title contender.
It may not be too long before Tedford fits the same description.