Cal's coaching staff spends most bye weeks getting a thorough look at its younger players. But this time the future is now.

The Bears ended their bye week of practice Thursday, and starters and backups took almost all the reps. After back-to-back blowout losses to Oregon and USC, Cal coach Jeff Tedford decided he couldn't afford not to let his top players take advantage of the extra practice time.

"We need the work," Tedford said.

The Bears now will disperse until Sunday, enjoying one of their two Saturdays off during the regular season. When they reconvene, they will begin preparing for the rest of the season, which resumes Oct. 17 at UCLA.

"We still have a winning record (3-2) and there's seven games left," Tedford said. "Even though we haven't played well the past two weeks, two of the hardest things to do in our conference are play in Eugene and play SC. We just did that. We would have liked to have done better. There are guys out here working extra. They're encouraged."

The Bears are 0-2 in Pac-10 play, a record no team has ever overcome to win the conference crown. But there have been seven times when the Pac-10 champ has lost two games, meaning Cal simply wants to take care of business and hope the conference race gets turned upside down.


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"We just have to go out there and win as many games as possible," quarterback Kevin Riley said. "Just looking at the Pac-10 so far this year, everybody has been beat up by everybody. You never know what's going to happen. We just have to go out there and win. That's it."

  • Cal's quarterbacks and receivers held a meeting earlier this week to get on the same page and talk about plays they can "own," routes they feel confident will yield completions most of the time.

    "We went over the things we need to get better at and take control of," Riley said. "There are routes we have to own, so we can just dial them up anytime and get a completion anytime. Those are things we have to completely own, where we can dial them up 15 times a game and have them be completions 13 out of 15 times."

  • Wide receiver Nyan Boateng (foot) has begun running and is on track to practice next week and play against UCLA. Boateng has missed the past two games.

  • Left guard Matt Summers-Gavin, who missed the USC game with a sprained shoulder, was held out of contact this week but also is expected back for the Bruins.

  • Backup nose tackle Kendrick Payne missed the USC game with plantar fasciitis and didn't practice this week. Tedford said there is no timetable for his return.