BERKELEY -- The past two times that Jeff Tedford has faced off against Oregon State, California has seen two crucial players go down: starting quarterback Kevin Riley last season, and NFL-bound tailback Jahvid Best the year before.
Over his tenure in Berkeley, Tedford yas yet to defeat the Beavers and head coach Mike Riley at home, and is 2-7 against Oregon State overall.
"Well, last year, we lost our quarterback on the second series. That was a big part of it. We've had some really close games with them, and it's come down to the wire a couple of times, and really, it's lack of execution," Tedford said after practice on Tuesday. "They've done a good job. You have to give them a lot of credit, but we've turned the football over and we've fumbled the ball. Last year, we couldn't execute at all. We lost Kevin last year, lost Jahvid the year before, but it comes down to execution, and they've out-executed us, and that's what it's about."
With that trend, Tedford would be forgiven if he rolled sophomore wide receiver Keenan Allen head-to-toe in bubble wrap before Saturday's home finale at AT&T Park.
"It's not just about Keenan. It's about everybody. Everyone has to do their job and execute," Tedford said. "We can't rely on one guy to carry us, so I'm not saying anything about that's why we lost those games. I'm not saying that, at all. When you lose a key player like Jahvid, there's other backs there, but we lost our quarterback last year and that was a big key, because Brock [Mansion] hadn't played, but that's no excuse. You still have to perform and you still have to execute. By no means am I making an excuse that that's why. They out-executed us in every phase of the game, and that's why they won. That's why they were better."
This year, it's very possible that the key players missing the contest will be on the defensive side. Freshman outside linebacker Chris McCain and redshirt freshman outside linebacker David Wilkerson did not practice on Tuesday, and there is no timetable for either to make a full return.
"Wilkerson has a bruised knee, so we'll see what happens to him, and then McCain has a concussion, and all those things are day-to-day issues, how they improve and the testing that they go through," Tedford said. "Our training staff and doctors do an excellent job of putting them through the paces and making sure that they go through all the tests. They have an exertion test, they have a stress test, they have a baseline test; they do mental tests and then they do physical exertion and then you've got to wait for 24 hours and there's a protocol that goes along with it, and it's not something you mess around with it."
Offensive lineman Brian Schwenke was back at practice after being hospitalized over the weekend due to an illness.
"He worked today," Tedford said. "He was limited today, but he went through everything, all the drills and everything like that. I anticipate him to be ready."
While McCain is looking to get his head right, Tedford said that the rest of the team is keeping theirs squarely on the task at hand, instead of looking ahead to next week's Big Game against Stanford.
"No. No way. We have this one in front of us," Tedford said. "That's all that matters, is right now. The only thing that does that is you people talking about it, because we're not talking about it. Every time you turn around, somebody asks you about next week with big games, so we're keeping it, we're trying to keep it out of our heads, and I would hope that everybody else focuses on this week's game."
Of course, a win this week against Oregon State would make the Bears bowl-eligible for the first time since 2009, when they fell in the Poinsettia Bowl against current conference foe Utah in San Diego.
"It's about this week," Tedford said. "It's about our seniors' last game at home. Yeah, we can't bury our head in the sand. If we're successful in this game, then we become bowl-eligible, so we can't just act like that doesn't exist. But, also, Oregon State has gotten the best of us for a few years now, and this is about us preparing and going out and executing and putting our best performance -- our best effort -- together for this game, period."