Tedford back for sophomore year with retooling Cal

Updated: August 21, 2003, 9:54 PM ET

BERKELEY, Calif. -- In one amazing year, Jeff Tedford revitalized one of college football's most dismal programs. He turned a confused quarterback into a first-round NFL draft choice. Best of all, he beat Stanford in the Big Game.

So what can Tedford possibly do for an encore in his second season as California's coach? After the dramatic turnaround of last season, he's hoping for nothing more than steady progress toward annual winning seasons and bowl games.

"That is our goal. That is our vision," Tedford said. "We want to get on the level to where we are competing for the Pac-10 championship on a yearly basis and competing on the national level as well."

Cal took a giant step toward that goal last fall with its first winning season since 1993. The Golden Bears were the talk of the West Coast with a 7-5 season that including a 30-7 pummeling of the Cardinal in the 103rd Big Game -- Cal's first win in the rivalry series since 1994.

But Tedford's honeymoon is over. Cal has one of the nation's toughest schedules, including 10 games against teams who played in bowl games last season -- starting with the season opener against Kansas State on Saturday.

What's more, Kyle Boller is taking snaps in the Baltimore Ravens' training camp these days. Running back Joe Igber, defensive backs Nnamdi Asomugha and Jemeel Powell, kicker Mark Jensen, receiver LaShaun Ward, defensive linemen Tully Banta-Cain and Tom Canada and several other contributors to the turnaround also have graduated, leaving a collection of backups and new players for Tedford.

But after a successful recruiting season and a good training camp, Tedford retains any coach's cautious optimism about the upcoming season.

"I think we will be more talented," Tedford said. "However, it hasn't been proven yet. I think on paper, and when you look at some of the things they do in practice, you can say that the potential is there for us to be more talented."

Tedford expects the biggest differences to be seen in Cal's overall team speed, where returning receivers Jonathan Makonnen and Geoff McArthur will join freshman Sean Young to form a solid core. The defensive backfield could struggle with inexperience early on, but Tedford expects improvements as the season progresses.

Succeeding Boller, the four-year starter who became Cal's career leader with 64 touchdown passes during his outstanding senior season, is the toughest task of all. Tedford has carefully evaluated the three candidates for the job, and Reggie Robertson will get the first start against Kansas State.

Robertson, a junior, has thrown 67 passes as Boller's backup over the past two seasons. He got the nod over sophomore junior college transfer Aaron Rodgers -- but Tedford won't hesitate to use both quarterbacks at any time. Even sophomore Richard Schwartz could play.

"I always felt that I would start one year, so it's no pressure for me," Robertson said. "I never thought I wouldn't play. I can bring leadership on the field, make sure everyone knows what they're doing. They don't have to worry about anything, because I can help them out."

Garrett Cross, Rodgers' teammate at Butte College, should be a prominent target at tight end, while Adimchinobe Echemandu and Terrell Williams are most likely to inherit Igber's rushing duties.

The Bears could struggle mightily on defense after the departures of nearly every important member of last season's unit. Coordinator Bob Gregory also has a tough task in preparing his team to face Kansas State's option offense in the season opener.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index