Ground game needs more 'pop' moving forward

C.J. Anderson (US Presswire)

Head coach Jeff Tedford seeks a more complete performance from the Bears' rushing offense.

BERKELEY, Calif. – By the time California reconvened at Memorial Stadium on Sunday afternoon to practice, the shock of losing to Nevada had worn off. In its place was anger and determination not to let one game sink the entire season.

"This is a big wakeup call for us, knowing we have to work hard everyday and nothing is going to be handed to us," redshirt sophomore tight end Jacob Wark said.

"The game we played yesterday wasn't Cal football. I think our fans know it wasn't Cal football. Cal football is all about physical and execution and being very disciplined," senior running back C.J. Anderson added. "We're going to tighten up the details this week and we are going to enjoy ourselves."

Head coach Jeff Tedford said the team was receptive to his message of not panicking and went about the processing of correcting the many mistakes and breakdowns that led to defeat.

A glaring issue on offense was an anemic running game that managed just 88 yards on 19 carries by Anderson and redshirt senior Isi Sofele.

"It was very unacceptable," Anderson said. "We don't run the ball in that fashion. We run violently and we run hard. We run very physical, and yesterday we didn't put that out there."

While the duo churned out consistent small gains, they were unable to break a play longer than 13 yards despite getting into the secondary on several occasions.

"We didn't have any big gains," Tedford said. "We weren't getting stoned, but never really popped anything."

There were improvements in the second half, but playing from behind forced Cal to abandon the run. Anderson and Sofele had just five carries in the fourth quarter, good for 36 yards.

The distribution of carries between the two backs also drew notice, with Sofele rushing only five times to Anderson's 14 carries. But there were several other called runs for Sofele where quarterback Zach Maynard instead kept the ball, Anderson said.

Tedford said Sofele, who ran for 1,322 yards last season, would be more involved going forward. That was something Anderson was pleased to hear.

"I don't want the whole workload," he said. "Isi is my best friend. I love sharing the load with him. Me and Isi are going to have a great year together."

But it will take more than an increased emphasis on the ground game to get better production, as Tedford pointed out.

"It falls on everyone," he said. "Tight ends, as well as running backs, as well as offensive line, as well as receivers because receivers are big part of the run game."

For example, freshman wide receiver Bryce Treggs had a key block on Keenan Allen's 39-yard reverse for a touchdown, but it came too close for Tedford's comfort.

"He had a big block, but it should have been 20 yards down the field instead of eight yards down the field," Tedford said. "He'll get it. It was a great block."

MRI for MSG
Right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin (knee) will undergo an MRI on Tuesday after being injured late in the fourth quarter against Nevada.

Pending those results, Tedford did not know if the redshirt senior, who has started 18 consecutive games over the past three seasons, would be available to play against Southern Utah.

Summers-Gavin was replaced by redshirt junior Bill Tyndall on Saturday.

Quick Hits
With sophomore defensive end Mustafa Jalil dressing but not playing because of an undisclosed injury, redshirt freshman Todd Barr had three tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and was credited with a half-sack. Tedford said Barr had earned more playing time going forward, but was not sure if Jalil would play this week. … Tedford did not know if junior linebacker Khairi Fortt (knee) would be able to practice this week. … After reviewing the game tape, Allen was officially credited with six receptions for 67 yards against Nevada.

Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and covers the Pac-12 for Fox Sports/Scout.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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