Friday, August 19, 2005

New wide receivers are catching Tedford's eye

• Cal's passing game should get a boost from Jackson and Hawkins
Cal football notebook
BERKELEY -- Cal coach Jeff Tedford beams when talking about his wide receivers corps, which was devastated last year by injuries and turned into a major weakness by season's end.
Freshman DeSean Jackson and junior college transfer Lavelle Hawkins have been with the program just a couple weeks, but both will be prominent players in the offense.
"They bring an added dimension to our offense," Tedford said. "They are both very fluid and fast and they have great hands."
Hawkins made two diving catches during practice Wednesday, and Tedford said that kind of effort is contagious. "That effort they give, laying out to catch balls, that takes the attitude of the rest of the wide receivers to a new level. That competition has been great."
Tedford said he hasn't assigned any wide receivers to the starting or backup positions yet. But he said Jackson and Hawkins will get significant playing time.
Slow start
Junior college transfer Mickey Pimentel has battled a bruised shoulder through training camp that has left him battling to catch up with the veteran linebackers who already know the system. Pimentel, a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder from Pima (Ariz.) Community College, admitted that trying to digest Cal's defensive schemes has been a huge task, but he said the coaches have told him that he is progressing well.
Pimentel, the National Junior College Athletic Association Region I Defensive Player of the Year, was signed by Tedford to bring depth to the linebackers corps. Pimentel said he hopes to contribute immediately even though he has been with the program only two weeks.
Balancing act
Even though Cal will be breaking in a rookie quarterback, Tedford said his offense will continue to be balanced. Last season, with junior quarterback Aaron Rodgers running the team, Cal rushed for 3,081 yards and threw for 2,828 yards.
Even though Cal will have a veteran offensive line and one of the nation's top tailbacks in Marshawn Lynch, Tedford said he won't use the rushing game as a crutch.
He said that redshirt freshman Nate Longshore and junior college transfer Joe Ayoob are ready to handle the entire offense.
Extra points
Redshirt freshman linebacker Worrell Williams was carted off the field after sustaining a sprained ankle in Thursday's controlled scrimmage. Tedford said X-rays were negative. ... Tedford has said freshman tight end Cameron Morrah has been so impressive that he figures in the team's plans this season. Morrah missed Wednesday practice due to illness. ... Tedford said junior David Gray took his position switch from wide receiver to tight end very well and told the coach that he would do whatever it took to help the team. ... Offensive line coach Jim Michalczik said he has a virtual logjam in the run for the right guard starting position. Junior Eric Robertson, freshman Norris Malele, senior Bryan Deemer and sophomore Brian De La Puente all have a shot at winning the job. ... Tedford got some good news this week when he found out the hyper-extended knee injury suffered by sophomore cornerback Thomas DeCoud was not serious. DeCoud, who missed two days of practice, is back on the field in a limited capacity. While he can run drills, he's not able to take full contact. ... David Ortega, a former Cal linebacker who is the team's all-time leading tackler, is moving from his position as director of football student-athlete development to Cal's compliance department.
-- Jay Heater

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