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Cal Football

Monday Practice Report: Big Game Week

November 13, 2017
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Not even the rain could dampen the Bears' spirits Monday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. After all, it's Big Game week.

Senior cornerback Darius Allensworth could hardly contain his excitement after practice: "This is the Big Game. This is where The Play happened. All those pictures you've seen when you were a little kid happened in this game. I'm just blessed to be a part of it."

"I think the students get a little bit more excited for it (than other games)," said junior running back Patrick Laird. "Today I had a professor who gave an example problem and he referenced the Big Game, so there will be little things like that. A lot of people get excited for the game."

For Cal head coach Justin Wilcox, it's a balancing act. Wilcox wants to allow his players to embrace the spirit of the rivalry, but also stay focused on football.

"You enjoy it," he said. "It's part of college football. You acknowledge it. But we have to produce on Saturday. We've got to go out and play a good game, and the only way to do that is prepare really well... I want them to enjoy the game and be in the moment, but what's most important is our preparation."

That preparation, at least on the defensive side of the ball, begins with Stanford running back Bryce Love. The junior has emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate, rushing for 1,622 yards on 181 carries (9.0 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns in just nine games.

"He's an excellent back," said Wilcox. "He's got great balance, vision, and patience, and his top end speed is elite... Everybody's got to do their job. We've got to play extremely physical, run to the football, and tackle well."

"Bryce Love is definitely one of the best backs in the nation," added Allensworth. "Kudos to him for what he has done this season, putting himself in the Heisman watch. He's really special."

As Cal fans know, and probably don't want to be reminded, Stanford has won the Big Game seven years in a row. Allensworth is determined to finally win the Axe in his senior season.

"(The Axe) has been on my mind for two weeks," he said. "It's very important to me, probably one of the last things I haven't done that I would like to do with my little time here at Berkeley... It would be really cool to grab the Axe, take it home, have a party with it, have it on my couch one time."

Laird concurred: "I think that would be a great accomplishment for our team. I would love to bring the Axe back to Berkeley."

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