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Bears brush off loss

Jared Green
Thursday September 26, 2002

The Cal football team is facing adversity for the first time this season following a 23-21 loss to Air Force last weekend. But the Bears haven’t lost any confidence following their first setback of the season. 

“I don’t think we need to panic,” quarterback Kyle Boller said. “We lost one game by two points. It’s not the end of our season.” 

“We lost one game by two points. Big deal,” said wide receiver LaShaun Ward. 

Cal’s players were quick to point out that Air Force is a unique team, running schemes on both offense and defense that are unlike any other Division I program. The Falcons attempted just eight passes against Cal, sticking with the option for most of the game. 

With more conventional Washington State coming to town on Saturday for the Pac-10 opener, the Bears seem confident they can get right back on track. 

“I just can’t wait to be a defensive back again,” cornerback James Bethea said. “I felt like a linebacker [against Air Force]. I’m here to cover, so I’m not much on the hitting.” 

It helps that the Washington State schemes haven’t changed much during head coach Mike Price’s 14 years in Pullman. With a veteran defense, the Bears are pretty familiar with what they’re going to see from the Cougar offense. 

In fact, Cal can take comfort in the fact that they’ll be facing pass-heavy attacks for the rest of the schedule, as the Pac-10 is full aerial specialists. 

“Most of the Pac-10 teams are really similar, and we’ve played against Washington State before,” defensive tackle Daniel Nwangwu said. “We can prepare for most of these teams the same way.” 

Cal head coach Jeff Tedford said he’s pleased with how his team is responding following its first loss. His philosophy of positive reinforcement and not dwelling on mistakes has been a major factor in the team’s surprising start to the season, and he plans to continue with it even when the results aren’t great. 

Several Bears said Tedford was calm and in control after the loss, which in turn helped them to turn around and look toward the next game. 

“Monday’s practice was upbeat. The players are definitely disappointed about losing, but it helps them realize what it takes to win,” Tedford said. “I think we’re right where we need to be right now.”