BERKELEY — Cal linebacker Zack Follett said he was in junior high school the last time he played a game that started at 9 a.m. on the West Coast. The Bears are doing whatever they can to make sure Saturday's game doesn't feel like junior high school again.
Cal visits Maryland on Saturday for a game that begins at noon Eastern time, 9 a.m. on the West Coast. The Bears aren't arriving in College Park until Friday afternoon, but coach Jeff Tedford has had his players spend the week setting up their sleeping patterns to get accustomed to the new time zone.
"We're going to start trying to get acclimated, get our body chemistry acclimated to the East coast," Tedford said. "We're going to get our body clock going a couple days early, to make sure that when we wake up, it's not anything new for us."
Tedford said he considered having the team travel on Thursday but was concerned about having a full day of down time. He also said, "I just don't think you need to fly there to get acclimated. I think you can acclimate yourself right here."
The Bears played a 9 a.m. game (Pacific) at Illinois in 2003, Tedford's second year at Cal. He said they took the same tactic then. Cal beat the Illini, 31-24.
"It's going to be an early game for us, so we'll definitely have to do something to get our bodies ready for it," Follett said. "We'll be ready for it. I don't think we should come out flat."
The Bears plan on flying early Friday morning and the players have been instructed to stay awake on the flight, so they will be tired and get to bed at a reasonable time.
"It's like playing a game at 9 in the morning. We're not exactly used to that," Cal wide receiver Sean Young said. "I think we'll rise to the occasion. We're going to get our body clocks right and be well rested throughout the week."
Saturday's game will feature two of the top seven running backs in the country. Maryland's Da'Rel Scott is tied for fourth nationally in rushing (160 ypg) and Cal's Jahvid Best is ranked seventh (155.5 ypg).
The Bears defense already has shut down one of the nation's top runners, holding Michigan State's Javon Ringer to 81 yards in the season opener.
"(Scott) is a great back," Follett said. "He has the quickness to make you miss, the power to run you over and once he gets into the open field, he can be gone. We have to take this running back for real. I think he might be one of the best ones we face."
Best is coming off a 200-yard performance last week against Washington State, a game in which he had two touchdown runs of at least 80 yards.
"He's having an unbelievable year," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He's extremely fast and very explosive."
Backup defensive lineman Kendrick Payne will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday and is expected to miss two weeks. ... Tedford said punter Bryan Anger (knee) was a little sore after Saturday's win over Washington State. Anger has rested most of this week but is expected to play against the Terps. ... Cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson is tied for the national lead with three interceptions. ...This is Cal's first game against Maryland in school history.
— Jonathan Okanes