Balancing work and play was something Golden Bears head coach Jeff Tedford had to do remind players of over the weekend during their final practices before arriving in San Diego this Friday.
"Typically when guys are getting ready to go on break and get away, it's no different than anything. The last day at work, your car is gassed up, started up and ready to roll," he said. "I wanted to make sure they understood the intensity we needed in practice."
Tedford was pleased with how the team was able to focus in, but will give them opportunities to enjoy the rewards associated with the postseason.
"We've been in enough bowl games to know how to approach it," he said. "The kids can have fun because you're supposed to enjoy the experience, but it's really important when we're in meetings and on the practice field the focus is attention to detail to what we're doing. There is a time to focus on football, then relax a little bit and go to the zoo and Sea World.
"You don't want them to be all tense the whole time. It's real important that we understand and are mature enough to know when to focus and when to relax."
Senior wide receiver Marvin Jones knows his teammates will be able to do just that, especially after finishing 5-7 last season, the first time in Tedford's Cal tenure he posted a losing record and just the second campaign that finished without a bowl.
"We have built an expectation - especially with Coach Tedford – a standard that Cal goes to bowl games," Jones said. "Not going to a bowl game last year was new and shocking to us. We do enjoy this time and we're glad that we're back to where we're supposed to be."
Cal will mark its return by getting several players back from injury, including wide receiver Michael Calvin (knee) and linebackers Chris McCain (concussion) and David Wilkerson (knee).
Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast welcomed their return, combining for eight starts and 10.5 tackles for loss this season.
"We were really banged up at the end of the year," Pendergast said. "Not only having those guys back but along the defensive line, we limped in to those last couple games."
However redshirt junior tight end Spencer Ladner will not be with the team for what Tedford termed a "violation of team rules."
Ladner appeared in four games this season, starting two.
Facing off against a Texas defense that finished 14th nationally in pass efficiency, Jones was able to call on an old acquaintance for some tips.
"My boy, my friend Jeff Fuller, he's at Texas A&M. I looked at his game," Jones said. "I hit him up and asked him what you think about the secondary because obviously I've seen them on film. He told me how his game went."
Jones and Fuller struck up a friendship during the 2008 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, the last football game played in the famed Orange Bowl before its demolition.
Fuller caught seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown against Texas, but the Aggies lost to the Longhorns, 27-25, on a field goal as time expired.