The Cal Golden Bears have inside information about Colorados offense and quarterback Tyler Hansen, and not just because they faced the Buffaloes last year.
Eric Kiesau, the Bears new passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, was the Buffs offensive coordinator under Dan Hawkins. So he shared his knowledge of his former pupils, particularly Hansen, with Cals defensive coaches as they prepared for todays kickoff in Boulder.
The game wont count in the Pac-12 standings because it was scheduled as part of a home-and-home series before the Buffs bolted the Big 12.
When the Buffs hired head coach Jon Embree, who brought Eric Bieniemy with him from the pro ranks to serve as his offensive coordinator, Kiesau went even farther West, along with fellow former Buffs assistant Ashley Ambrose, Cals defensive backs coach.
Coach Kiesau is a great guy; I love the guy, Hansen said. The last two years when he was my coach was a lot of fun. Ive become close to his family. So its going to be fun to see him. Ive talked to him a couple of times since he left. So maybe he knows my weaknesses; I dont know if he does or doesnt, but it will be fun to play him.
Kiesau said hes trying to keep his emotions in check this weekend.
I dont want to sound cold when I say this, but I want to be disconnected when I go back and take it as a business trip and understand what were trying to do and go there and play a game, Kiesau said. I know these kids on a personal level. Im very close to some of them. They still text me now and then. Some texted me about the game.
The only advantage is I know them on an athletic level, just what they do personally. Theyre going to have scheme and Xs and Os, which will be very different from when I was there.
Kiesau was on the losing side of the Bears 52-7 throttling of the Buffaloes in Berkeley last season.
Theyll use last years game as motivation for this year, Kiesau said. We have to make sure that were prepared and were ready for this game because Colorado plays a little different brand of football at home than on the road.
Indeed, Embree said during fall camp he was eager to host Pac-12 teams at high altitude.
Were not going to make it a big deal, Kiesau said. Were going to go out there and play. You cant let it get into your mind that it will affect you because once your mind goes it will affect your body.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford told his team, which beat Fresno State 36-21 in its opener last week, You may be short of breath, but youll recover quickly so dont panic about it.
With the turnover at CU, Tedford said he hasnt watched film of last years blowout.
I havent looked at it at all, he said. Its just different, totally different.
Embree sneaked a peek.
Lack of effort, that disturbed me the most, said Embree, who lost his head coaching debut 34-17 at Hawaii last week. I dont feel like we competed very well last year. I felt like we just kind of were just hoping, waiting for the clock to run out so we could get off the field. I mean, thats what it looked like watching it.
I thought the effort was there, Buffs defensive tackle Conrad Obi said. I didnt think we executed at all.
Although this game doesnt count in the conference standings, dont expect any letup from the new Pac-12 foes.
You dont play any different because its a conference game or a nonconference game, Tedford said. You just do everything you can to try to prepare to win the game. It doesnt really matter.