When Cal loses it always dampens the mood for Cal fans. But it was still a jovial atmosphere at the Grid Club. It occurred to me that our meetings may have become a support group of such, with the realization that we all must be Cal football addicts. But if you are reading this that probably means you're an addict just like me, suffering through the lows in anticipation of feeling the Cal football highs once again.
The good news is that despite a rough patch for the football team, Cal's athletic department is succeeding just about everywhere else. Volleyball, women's soccer, water polo, cross country! Heck, I even learned we're dominating at the Pan-American games! And of course this week is national championship week, which just adds to the good feelings running throughout the Olympic sports right now.
Wednesday's call-in coach was Ashley Ambrose, Cal's new secondary coach who came over after producing a few high NFL draft picks out of Colorado. He's got to be loving his new job, getting to work with talented young players like Stefan McClure and Avery Sebastian. Our live guest was Andrea Campos, Senior Associate Director of Development. She provided more info on the Student Athlete High Performance Center and New Memorial Stadium, as well as a nice run-down of how our fall teams are faring.
What did Cal do to slow down Robert Woods?
We tried to get physical, beat him up to slow him down. We noticed that nobody had really done that to him yet this year. McClure and Williams did a great job of that. We worked on the technique all week and they executed it on Thursday.
On Stefan McClure's performance:
He did a great job, and he will be outstanding at Cal. He was nervous getting thrown in to the Oregon game, but was a little calmer against USC. We expect him to do even better moving forward.
Any thought of using Keenan Allen on defense?
I'm always telling him he needs to come over to our side! But as long as he is making those plays on offense that's OK
What are we going to prepare for Utah?
They looked good against Pitt. They want to run the ball, so we have to have to be ready for that. We want to stop the run and make them have to pass. Defensively Utah is very good - against Pitt they made all kinds of plays.
Was Marvin Jones surprised to find out he fielded the punt on the 4 yard line?
You know, I was a punt returner when I played, and he probably didn't realize he had backed up that far. When you're fielding a punt you're so focused on getting under the ball and paying attention to the guys running at you full speed trying to take you out that you won't even realize when you're backing up from where to started. We've talked about how when you lineup at the 10 you just can't go back at all - just sideways.
Since Utah wants to run the ball and play physical, smash-mouth offense, is there any thought to bringing in extra defensive linemen?
No. We try to be like Pittsburgh in the NFL - always one of the best defenses, and they don't have to change for anyone. We don't need to put extra lineman in the game to stop the run, we just need to play stout.
In the past we've had players in the secondary who do a good job of looking back for the ball, and others who aren't as aware. Is that natural ability or technique?
I'm a technique guy - it's what allowed me to stay in the NFL for as long as I did. But it is something where natural talent comes in to play. Some guys are so talented that they can get away without that technique. But as coaches we want to teach every player to play with that technique.
Andrea talked about a variety of tidbits related to Cal sports and current athletic department projects. Amongst them are the following:
-Cal water polo is having another excellent year, and will again be hosting the NCAA tournament, so get your tickets early when you get the chance before seats sell out!
--This week the Olympic wing of the SAHPC opened, and locker rooms are actually being used - which is one reason why regular tours can't happen!
-The Hall of Fame room will be in the stadium.
-New Memorial is still on track to be opened for September 2012. 18 days in the winter were lost due to rain, but crews have worked overtime since then to catch up.
-The roof of the SAHPC will be within the gates during games, and thus will be available as a plaza for fans during the game. It will of course be available for use by students the rest of the time. (Note: Andrea brought beautiful artist's renderings that included plenty of trees!)
-The student section, band, and young alumni section will all stay in the same places they used to be in, although the numbering may change.