Cal is not taking its return to the postseason lightly as they prepare for the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl against Texas in San Diego today.
“Our preparation is good, our players are focused,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford. “You really have to manage the excitement of a bowl game with the hard work, physical aspect you have to do to get ready to go to a bowl game without getting your players banged up.”
Cal (7-5) won three of its past four games to claim its invitation to San Diego, whereas Texas (7-5) comes stumbling into the postseason having lost three of its past four.
But Texas’ struggles have not swayed Tedford’s preparation for the Longhorns.
“It’s what you expect to see from a Texas team,” Tedford said. “They’re very talented, physical.”
Texas boasts the best defense in the Big 12, allowing 315 yards per games, highlighted by seven All-Big 12 first- and second-teamers.
“They get after it,” Cal offensive lineman Matt Summers-Gavin said. “It’s going to be a hell of a challenge.”
Cal has been no slouch on defense either, leading the Pac-12 in yardage allowed through the air with 209 per game.
Summers-Gavin said facing Cal’s defense, led by Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Mychal Kendricks, has gotten them ready for Texas.
The Cal defense will have to tangle with Texas’ pair of quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash.
McCoy threw for 356 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions in Texas’ 48-24 loss to Baylor.
Ash has been used sparingly in the last two games, but is a threat on the ground for Texas.
Cal hasn’t played since Nov. 25 and with Texas having played its final game on Dec. 3 against Baylor, the Golden Bears got an extra week of preparation and rest.
“There is no doubt that extra week we were able to use numerous ways,” Tedford said.
Mike Blasquez, the head strength and conditioning coach, told Tedford the players have life back in their legs and are looking good.
“The message coming back from him is their legs are back, they’re fresh, they’re explosive,” Tedford said. “[We need] to manage that and to make sure you keep it that way while still getting good enough work, being physical, doing the things you need to do to be prepared.”
It is Cal’s eighth trip in 10 years to a bowl game under Tedford, where the Golden Bears are 5-2. The last came in 2009 when Cal lost to Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl 37-27.
Cal (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5)
– WHEN: Today, 5 p.m.
– WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
– TV: ESPN
– RADIO: KGO (810 AM)