Page One

Bears casual about national honors

By Jared Green
Wednesday September 18, 2002


For a team that went 1-10 last year and was widely considered the joke of college football, the Cal Bears were remarkably restrained about being ranked No. 23 in the nation in this week’s Associated Press poll. Heck, some of them didn’t even know. 

“I had no idea we were ranked,” junior cornerback James Bethea said Tuesday. “It doesn’t change much. We still have to go out and play this weekend.” 

Bethea’s mind must have been wandering at the end of Monday’s practice, because head coach Jeff Tedford told his players about the ranking, the Bears’ first wince October of 1996. But Tedford said the national recognition didn’t seem to affect the players much. 

“We’re not going to get too excited three weeks into the season,” Tedford said. “It’s really great for the people around the program, the alumni, more than the team.” 

Quarterback Kyle Boller was the recipient of several awards for his performance against Michigan State on Saturday, including Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week and national Player of the Week honors from USA Today and Boller threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and caught a touchdown pass from wide receiver LaShaun Ward during Cal’s 46-22 upset of the Spartans.  

It’s hard to say who’s harder on Boller, Tedford or the quarterback himself. Boller has completed 61.5 percent of his passes and thrown seven touchdowns to just one interception, but both he and Tedford say there’s still plenty of work to do. Boller said he played “pretty well, but I missed a few throws.” 

“Kyle’s making good decisions, but I think he can still play better,” Tedford said. “Of course, I’m probably the wrong guy to ask. “Unless he completes every ball I’m going to think there’s room for improvement.” 

Notes: Cornerback Jemeel Powell was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week after a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown against Michigan State... Middle linebacker John Klotsche tore his ACL on Saturday and could miss the rest of the season. Tedford said Klotsche could possibly return by the end of the season but called it “unlikely.” Senior Marcus Daniels, who started the opener against Baylor, will take over Klotsche’s spot... Sophomore linebacker Sid Slater is done for the season after suffering what Tedford termed “a complete blowout of his knee.” Slater tore both his ACL and MCL as well as his meniscus. Slater was a special teams player... The Bears will arrive at Maxwell Family Field at 11:30 a.m. for the “March to Victory” before Saturday’s game against Air Force, which kicks off at 2 p.m.... Cal will unveil its new video board at Saturday’s game... Cal hopes to spur ticket sales with a three-game package for the final three home games of the season. The package, which includes games against UCLA, Arizona and Stanford, will cost $77 for a reserve seat, a $35 savings over individual tickets.