Oct. 29, 1999
BERKELEY - After a tough loss against Washington last weekend, safety Dewey Hale will get his first start as a Golden Bear. Now he has the daunting task of leading a disappointed defense to a win over USC this weekend that could change Cal's fate in the Pac-10.
"Sunday was like a funeral, it was like somebody in the family died," said Hale. "I think everybody took it harder because that was a game we truly should have won. We tried to work it and just get it out of our system and we just try to overcome. We've got a lot of opportunities as long as we stay focused. A bowl game is possibility, the Pac10 is basically up for grabs."
Hale has managed to move through the mourning process and onto an anticipation for his next challenge, getting calls out to players with much more experience. "It's a big responsibility," said the 6-0, 195-pound sophomore. "I have to make sure I know what everybody's doing in the secondary so I can play off that, so I know how to help out and then I have to watch what's in the backfield."
He got one of his first lessons in leadership against Arizona State earlier this season when he saw a lot of playing time, but panicked when he had trouble communicating.
"Certain times in a game it gets so loud that they can't hear you, said Hale. "A lot of times that comes back on me because I have to do my job. After we stopped them, I pulled the defensive players aside and said look to me for the calls. I'm the youngster and everybody is looking at me so I have to get in there and execute."
Hale has been executing in the secondary since high school where he was the only one on his team who played only defense, even though he had the opportunity play both sides of the line. He used the time to get as many reps as he could.
The extra work paid off. Hale had 117 tackles and five interceptions his senior season at Fremont High. This weekend, he hopes to use some of the leadership skills he showed back in high school to gain respect from teammates.
"I have to come out there with a leader attitude," Hale said. "I have to go out there and just take my respect, instead of playing timid. When they see that, your team starts to have confidence in you and that makes you play better."
So far this season, Hale has 10 total tackles and has broken up one pass, but as a key starter this week, he said he'll prepare differently for the game. To him that means stepping up his already high work ethic. "I feel I have no room for play," he said. " I expect them to go right at me, to throw at me. I'm going to work harder than I've ever worked before, so that in the future - especially next year coming up - I'll be real ready. I'm going to get my experience now."
Hale knows what he has to do to succeed in his new role and even how to do it. But that doesn't mean he's taking anything for granted. "I'm a little bit nervous," he said. "You don't want to make any mistakes because this is your opportunity. It's like they say, when they call your number you have to respond. This is my time to respond."