Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Daily Cal: Hawkins to Meet Former Coach, Block Downfield

Here is the link.

BY Steffi Chan and Stephen Durst

Cal wideout Lavelle Hawkins is already familiar with Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley, an assistant coach at LSU during Hawkins’ freshman year there.   Hawkins refused to say playing against Dooley will light a bigger fire under him, but did admit that he has some added incentive to have a big game in front of his old coach.   “I have to come and make some plays this week so I can holler at coach Dooley after the game and say ‘what’s up,’” Hawkins said.  Dooley is also acquainted with another wide receiver on the Bears’ squad.  While at LSU, Dooley had recruited DeSean Jackson, and is more than aware of the junior’s talent on the grid iron.

“I would say I wish he had gone to LSU, but then we gotta play them later, so either way we couldn’t have avoided DeSean this year,” Dooley said.  “I’m proud of both those guys, but their success is certainly not a surprise to me.”  With Cal possessing three running backs with breakaway potential in Justin Forsett, Jahvid Best and James Montgomery, coach Jeff Tedford has put a greater emphasis on down-field blocking, particularly from the wide receivers.  Hawkins has turned blocking into a friendly competition, predictably picking himself as the best blocking receiver.  “Rob’s (Jordan) a great blocker. Rob’s the man,” Hawkins said. “But of course I’m going to say me. I’m not going to argue with him though. We know if we can block some guys downfield they can make some big runs. Instead of a 20-yard run, we can have a 60-yard run.”  The Bears received big performances in last week’s win over Colorado State from numerous defenders, including backup defensive tackle Derek Hill and reserve linebacker Justin Moye.

Hill—who was in Tedford’s doghouse at the start of the season and was not even listed as a member of the second-string defense against Tennessee—had an interception in the end zone and was a force in the middle against the Rams. He helped fill the void left by Mika Kane, who missed the game due to lingering effects from a concussion.   “I think Derek understands better what big-time football is all about,” Tedford said. “He’s probably taken that lesson. It’s unfortunate he wasn’t able to play in camp but I think he realizes that preparation and staying in shape is really critical.”  Moye, who is usually a dependable reserve, also stepped up, snagging an interception and returning it 27 yards.  “Moye can play any of the linebacker positions. He’s really valuable to us because of his knack for playmaking,” Tedford said.  Early on in Cal’s contest against Colorado State on Saturday, Robert Jordan was hit hard on a play and sat out the rest of the game due to a bruised rib. But Tedford said it shouldn’t be an issue come time for Saturday’s matchup with Louisiana Tech.

“Robert’s X-rays were negative, but he’s day-to-day right now,” Tedford said. “I would anticipate him to play in the game.”  Jordan was not the only player who was banged up after last Saturday’s very physical matchup with the Rams—Forsett, for one, sat out the fourth quarter after sustaining a back stinger in the third quarter.  But Tedford knows it is not the first time this season that the team has been banged up—and it definitely won’t be the last.  “There are definitely bumps and bruises, no question about it, but that’s football,” Tedford said. “It’s going to be that way all year long, so we just have to make sure we practice smart and the guys do a good job of getting rehab, getting treatment and making sure their bodies are ready to play.”  In preparation for their next game, practicing smart this week means not getting too physical in individual drills.  “(Tuesday) we’re going to go in full pads and (Wednesday) we’re going to go in full pads, so we’re going to get some speed and cross over offense and defense on both days, but again trying not to beat guys up in individual drills and things like that.”

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