SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — Playing in this city will take some getting used to.
So will everything else for California this year.
In what will be a season filled with changes, the most noticeable one for the Golden Bears will be moving across the bay from Berkeley to play at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park while Memorial Stadium is renovated.
There’s a new offensive coordinator. New quarterback. Even coach Jeff Tedford is switching things up by taking a more active role calling plays.
“We also have a new theme going around that we do everything together, everything is team oriented,” receiver Marvin Jones said. “So when we work out, we have shirts that say ‘Team Matters’ across the chest, and nobody can take the shirt off no matter if you’re hot. Just basically changing the culture of how the team is.”
After going 5-7 and missing a bowl game for the first time since his initial season in 2002, Tedford isn’t relying on the same old schemes.
He revamped the workout schedule, moved to a more spread-friendly system for new quarterback Zach Maynard and hired offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik—the offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders last season and a previous Cal assistant—as part of his program overhaul.
“We have created a standard and expectation at Cal over the last nine years. Last season, we fell short of that, and we’re not hiding from that,” Tedford said. “We understand that there is a very fine line between winning and losing, and we were six points away from being 8-4 last year. We understand that we need to improve and get back to the standard and fulfilling the expectation that our fans and alumni have for our football program.”
For all the changes off the field, the one that could ignite the biggest turnaround is at quarterback.
Maynard, a dual-threat quarterback who led Buffalo to its first bowl appearance in 2009, sat out all of last year after transferring and won the starting job in a spring competition that included six players. His speed gives the Bears a dynamic they haven’t had in years, and one that is much needed in the high-scoring Pac-12 Conference.
Catching up with Cal could be just as tricky this season.
The Bears will play their home games in the World Series champion Giants’ cozy waterfront ballpark, a one-year arrangement while Memorial Stadium receives an extensive, $321 million renovation. They’ll also open the season Sept. 3 against Fresno State at Candlestick Park.
While most of the seniors would prefer to finish in Berkeley, the venue has created an added buzz. Whether that translates into wins remains to be seen.
“As a Giants fan, I love the idea of playing there,” offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz said. “For me, it gives a little extra excitement to it. If nothing else, it should be a fun year because of that.”
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