Contra Costa Times
BERKELEY -- Cal sophomore linebacker Greg Van Hoesen will be somewhat of a rookie when he lines up as a starter against Sacramento State on Sept. 3.
But Van Hoesen, who played mostly special teams last season, has no doubt that he will be prepared, considering he is facing a pretty good offense in practice every day. The Saratoga High School graduate was asked if facing Jeff Tedford's offense every day will help him make decisions.
"Are you kidding me?" he said with a smile. "We have one of the best-prepared defenses in the country ... facing our backs, our offensive line, our receivers."
Cal's linebacking corps, which includes inexperienced Division I-A players Van Hoesen (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and junior-college transfer Desmond Bishop, will be under the microscope. Even so, Van Hoesen said he is confident.
"I've been dedicated in the offseason," he said. "And I watched a lot of great guys at linebacker last year. I saw what they went through. I know that the game speed obviously is faster. It will be more intense. You need to keep your composure."
Even though he didn't get to take many snaps as a linebacker in 2004, he said playing on special teams was solid preparation.
"Playing special teams gives you a chance to be a huge part of the team," he said. "And if you come through, it's a great feeling."
Van Hoesen came through last year, blocking a punt against Washington that resulted in a touchdown. Tedford said he looks forward to seeing Van Hoesen perform this season.
"He is an intense, tough guy," Tedford said. "He has a lot of passion for the game."
Taking a break
Junior quarterback Joe Ayoob didn't throw the last half of practice Monday morning or during the afternoon's workout.
"He had some inflammation in his elbow and we wanted to give it some time to settle down," Tedford said.
"I've been throwing 150 balls a day, so I'm just sore," Ayoob said. "I needed a rest."
Ayoob is battling redshirt freshman Nate Longshore for the starting spot, and Longshore still has the advantage, according to Tedford.
"Nate has a step up because he is more familiar with the offense and situations such as handling the game clock," Tedford said. "I'll name a starter game week."
Although Tedford said he wants to play both quarterbacks in the opening game, he will decide on a starter quickly and stick with his decision.
"I'm not a big fan of pulling a guy in and out," he said. "I don't want a guy looking over his shoulder."
Beginning of end
Tedford said sophomore tight end Craig Stevens has the potential to be an all-conference type of performer.
"He is doing great," Tedford said. "He always has been at the point of the attack for us (as a blocker). Now he is catching the ball well. He needed to get more consistent as a receiver.
Junior David Gray, who was just switched from wide receiver, has moved quickly into the mix to be the second tight end if Tedford goes to that formation. Junior Eric Beegun and senior John Rust both have been slowed by hamstring injuries.
Freshman Noris Malele, who was pushing hard to start at left guard, injured his knee in practice and will be out indefinitely. Tedford said the injury won't require surgery. "He just needs rest and rehabilitation," Tedford said. ... Eric Morrah, a linebacker and the older brother of freshman tight end Cameron Morrah, has joined the team as a walk-on. Morrah transferred from Kansas State.