BERKELEY-Losing is never easy. And it doesn't ever get any easier. The Cal football team entered Monday's practice with a decidedly lower intensity level than in previous weeks. A 42-0 halftime deficit will do that to you.
"We got our butts kicked in the first half.," said head coach Jeff Tedford. "They made a lot of plays, and we didn't. Then, it snowballs on you and you can't get out of the hole with bad field position. We had the chance to make some plays and get out of there and we didn't do it. They capitalized on all their field position and made a lot of plays. Barkley played great."
USC quarterback Matt Barkley earned a Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week nod for his performance against the Bears, in which he piled up 352 yards and five touchdowns through the air on 25-of-37 passing in just over two quarters of work.
"Of course, there is emotion that goes along with it. But, is it going to do any good for me to yell and scream and put guys down? When it's needed, it's there. Sure, there is a time for yelling, sure there is. There's definitely a time for emotion," Tedford said. "You take that through the week, and you focus and prepare for the next game with that. No, it's not OK. If you want me to sit here and scream and cuss and give you the idea that it's OK, it's not. Nobody thinks it is. Nobody feels like it is. But, I'm not going to put on a show out here and yell at people. The things we talk about, as a team, inside, there's emotion involved with it."
Tedford said that there was no question that the players were angry and disappointed with the 48-14 disaster in Los Angeles, but he believes that the leadership and the character of the team would shine through in practice this week, as the Bears get ready to face Arizona State.
"After the game, it's pretty difficult because it's still really fresh, an open wound. It takes a day or two to let it sink in, and I think you need to process it and not act like it didn't happen, but learn," Tedford said. "It can't be all-encompassing. We need to deal with it, which we have, this morning. Now, we move forward. We're 3-3, and every game is a new opportunity. That's how we're going to approach it, and I do believe, that, as the week moves on here, the leadership and work ethic will have a good week in practice."
Senior linebacker Mike Mohamed believes that there is a place for the kind of emotion that comes after such a loss.
"As long as you get pissed off in the right way," Mohamed said. "You don't want to get mad at each other. You want to get mad at what happened and take it out on the next opponent. You don't want it to go internally, and have guys getting pissed off at each other."
Two of Cal's team captains-seniors Chris Guarnero and Mohamed-were, to say the least, muted in their first practice since the loss to the Trojans.
"Me, personally, after we've gotten the film out of the way, we want to forget about that and just focus on the next week," Mohamed said. "Starting tomorrow, I've just got to be as positive as I can, encourage the guys and focus on this next game, a home game, and we do pretty good at home."
Mohamed acknowledged that USC did some things on offense that the Bears' defenders were largely unfamiliar with, at least in regards to the Trojans' tape through their first six games of the season.
"They had a couple looks that we hadn't seen before, but mainly, they just played good ball, and we didn't," Mohamed said. "Everything just seemed to be working for them."
While the USC offense piled up 602 yards of total offense, the Trojans' defense held Cal to a season-low 245, including just 52 on the ground. Tedford said that USC was just plainly more physical at the point of attack.
"They definitely got after us," Guarnero said. "They have good players there, and brought some stuff we hadn't seen before-not seen before, but this year, they hadn't showed it. They were moving around, they were moving fast wherever they were, and they definitely got after us up front."
Guarnero didn't think that the offensive ineptitude was due to any faults with the game plan going in.
"I don't think it was an overlooking," Guarnero said. "We just have so much to look at once you get to the sixth game of the season, and when a team hasn't shown a specific front this year, you can't look at every look, or you'd be out here for three and a half hours. We made adjustments during the game. We just kind of slowed down and played a little slower. They definitely played faster than we were (playing)."
Of the Bears' nine losses by more than 14 points during Tedford's tenure, seven have come since 2008. All but two have come on the road. Even during the 2007 collapse, Cal only lost by-at most-14 points, and that happened just once-Nov. 17 against Washington on the road.
"I think each (loss) is specific unto itself," Tedford said. "It's its own deal. Each week's a new week with matchups and those types of things. The other day, it was lopsided in the first half, and if we would have rolled over, that could very easily have been 72-0, but it wasn't. The character and the effort to come out after a half like that, I was pleased with they way they responded to the challenge."
Tedford maintained that he was very happy with the team's performance in the second half, even though it came against USC's second- and third-string offense.
"We challenged our team, in the second half, to go out and compete and win the second half," he said. "We were really pleased with the way they came out in the second half and the effort."
Guarnero was perhaps the most optimistic on Monday, saying that the Bears still have a chance to win out.
"There's still a lot of football left," Guarnero said. "We still have six games, a lot of the Pac-10 left, a lot of good teams, and with the bowl game, we still have a chance at a 10-win season. That's a pretty good goal to have, and a pretty good accomplishment to have at the end of the year, too."