BERKELEY -- There aren’t many on the California football team more country than Jordan Rigsbee. Whether it’s donning a cutoff flannel shirt and jeans and a belt buckle the size of Texas to a country music festival in the desert or hunting, Rigsbee is as much bluegrass as blue and gold. So, when he posted a photo of him holding a duck he shot at the beginning of Oregon week, it wasn’t a surprise. What was a surprise was that he only bagged one.
“Not a great day, but it was cool,” smiles Rigsbee, as, in the background, running backs coach Pierre Ingram finds out that he and his wife are having a baby boy via a blue – not pink – cupcake.
[MORE FROM TUESDAY PRACTICE: Live Practice Thread]
It isn’t just Oregon week that Rigsbee goes duck hunting. He’s a regular in the Rice paddies.
“During duck season, I go all the time,” he said. “Back home, in Chico, we go in the rice fields, and they’re just everywhere. We limit out at eight a day. In the Bay Area, it’s a little harder to find places to go, because no one hunts out here. We just found a spot out in Palo Alto on the Bay that we go, and it’s alright.”
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It turns out that Rigsbee’s favorite duck hunting grounds aren’t too far away from where the Bears will be doing some duck hunting of their own on Friday, when Cal hosts No. 6 Oregon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
“Oh yeah, exactly,” Rigsbee smiled on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s practice featured a return to form for the offensive line, which hasn’t made much head in the run game over the past three games, during which the Bears have averaged just 60.67 yards per game on the ground. Over the first four games, Cal averaged 172.25 yards per game thanks to the line and Ingram’s running backs.
“I think we just need to get it, mentally,” Rigsbee said. “The last couple games, the schemes were a bit tough. The teams we were playing had a little bit more complex scheme, and I think we made some mental mistakes across the board. I think we’re thinking too much, and when we do that, we’re less physical as an O-line. When you know exactly what you’re doing, 100-percent, that’s when you can be the most physical. I think we need to get in the film room, and, once we know what we’re doing better than we have, we’ll be more physical, and when you’re more physical, you can run the ball.”
Cal was more downhill, straight-ahead running on Tuesday, as they were during the first four weeks of the season, when they benefitted from 12 runs of 12 or more yards, including four against Arizona and three against Washington State. On Saturday, the Bears had not a single run of 12 yards or more by a running back, after having just two – a 12- and a 15-yarder – against the Huskies.
“I don’t know what the difference has been,” Goff said. “I think it’s a little bit of the defenses seeing some of our stuff on film, maybe, and a little bit of fatigue. It’s probably a bunch of different factors that have gone into it, but I expect them to do fine this week. They’ve been doing a great job all year, and I expect them to continue to get better.”
The Ducks have the 10th rushing defense in the Pac-12, and after facing the eighth rushing defense (UCLA) and the third-best rushing defense (Washington) over the past two weeks, Cal could have a return to form if the offense can get some explosive plays out of the ground game, which will be that much more important given the absence of receiver Trevor Davis, who was in sweats on Tuesday and will not be available after suffering a neck injury in the fourth quarter against the Bruins.
“This team, they’re a big read team, so we feel like we can really get off the ball on them,” Rigsbee said. “We’ll try to get north-south on them, because they’re trying to run sideways and they’re reading you anyway, so I think it’ll be good for us.”