BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -Jeff Tedford changed his job description in the offseason specifically to make sure he would have time to lead California through adversity.
The coach's plan to drop play-calling duties so he could focus more on his team's overall mental health will get its first test Saturday against Colorado State.
Tedford is confident the Golden Bears' first loss of this season won't send them into the downward spiral that wrecked last season. For one thing, these Bears (2-1) don't have nearly as far to fall as last season's second-ranked team - and they have Tedford atop a support network determined to keep them together.
Last season's heartbreaking first loss to Oregon State sent the Golden Bears into a baffling downward spiral. After Cal was embarrassed at Maryland on Sept. 13, the Bears went through two aggressive weeks of practice, including full-contact workouts during a bye week that was more intense than any in recent Bears history.
``We all got together after that game, and everybody was really excited to get back on the field,'' right guard Noris Malele said. ``A lot of guys got better in the bye week. It was a real physical week. We didn't want to lose that touch.''
Cal is largely healthy and eager to get back on the field against the Rams (2-1), who will finish off a three-game series after winning in Berkeley in 2003 and losing in Fort Collins last season. That game also provides motivation for the Bears, who jumped to a big early lead before nearly blowing it late in a 34-28 win.
That game at Colorado State foreshadowed some of the Bears' problems in maturity, but linebacker Worrell Williams believes those problems have been solved.
``Some times last year, we didn't respond to adversity the right way,'' he said. ``We didn't get the leadership we need. It was good to have some time to get our minds right. During the bye week, we practiced tougher than we usually do. It wasn't really a bye week.''
lowing back-to-back wins over Sacramento State and Houston. The game is the Rams' only trip outside Colorado until mid-October, and Fairchild is determined to keep expectations low with his young club.
``I remind ourselves, our staff and players, that one game is not defining where we're going,'' Fairchild said. ``There's going to be some bumps, and one game is not going to give us some unfounded momentum or lack thereof. I do see very clearly where we're headed. ... I hope our players are tougher than to start caving in just because we lose a game or two. This thing is not a one-year process.''
Fairchild was the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator before returning to Colorado State, so he knows plenty about the NFL-style, three-man defensive fronts employed by Cal. Those 3-4 defenses are in vogue in the pros, particularly in the AFC East.
``It was surprising how little of it was going on in college when I left,'' Fairchild said. ``Because of the Patriots' success, you see a lot of teams using it. There are quite a few teams in college doing that scheme (now). It will be our first venture into that as an offense.''

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