Ernest Owusu's parents have made it to only a couple of Cal's games since he joined the program in 2007. They may have to increase their travel plans.
Owusu, a redshirt sophomore from Nashville, Tenn., was a revelation in the Bears' season-opening 52-13 crushing of Maryland. Seeing the first significant playing time of his career, the defensive end recorded two sacks and another tackle for loss.
Owusu's parents, Margaret and Ernest, made the trip to Berkeley for Saturday's game. Based on his performance, Owusu figures to see even more playing time in the near future.
"They came to the right (game)," Owusu said.
With starters Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan returning, Owusu didn't figure to make much of an impact this season. But defensive coordinator Bob Gregory called Owusu one of the team's most improved players since the beginning of training camp, and at times he joined Alualu and Jordan on the field at the same time.
"Ernie's really improved, ever since camp started," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "The first week of camp, Ernie was still getting it figured out, then the latter part of camp he made a strong move. Ernie's playing a lot faster now. I think he was a little bit paralyzed in the beginning, maybe over-analyzing things."
Owusu is 6-foot-4, 268 pounds, and is the king of Cal's weight room. Last year, he set the school record by squatting 585 pounds. He also bench presses 450 and does 350 in the power clean.
"The biggest thing about the weight room is it's all about preparing for the field," Owusu said. "You can be a great lifter, but if it doesn't translate on the field, it doesn't mean very much."
"It was amazing," Tepper said. "I'll be honest, I was kind of nervous. I haven't had those kind of butterflies in a while. You usually get those butterflies when you play your first couple of games.
Tepper started every game at right tackle in 2007 and has been moved over to the left side this season. He said he never really felt comfortable Saturday until the game was over.
"I knew I did well in practice and camp, but can I play in a game really well?" he said. "I kind of had to see if I still had it. I wanted to play a full game before I got comfortable. That's one of my biggest flaws is that I get comfortable in a game and then I'll make a little mistake that will really end up hurting the team."