Cal coach Jeff Tedford said he thought the defensive unit has been playing faster than it did during spring practice, attributing it to increased familiarity with Clancy Pendergast's system. Still, as the Bears put on full pads for the first time on Wednesday, Tedford expects things to open up a bit for the offense. "The defense always has an advantage when you don't have pads on," he said. "There's a lot of things that happen when ... you know that there's no threat of being cut at the line of scrimmage. Tomorrow's going to be real football." One group in particular that may appreciate the shift? The running backs, whose inability to cut yesterday put them at a disadvantage while pass blocking against charging linebackers. "(Right now) we have to take everything up top," sophomore Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson said. "Once the camp goes along, we should be beating them up."
If there's a game in 2009 that showed the importance of special teams, it was Cal's narrow home win against Arizona. The Bears won the game through timely kicking from Giorgio Tavecchio, while spotty kick-off coverage and a fumbled extra point attempt nearly took it away from them. It's this sense of urgency that new special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk hopes to instill in the unit. He has stressed "being able to perform under pressure, when there are 72,000 here, when there's a critical kick-off or PAT or field goal needs to be made in order to win a game." Towards that end, Genyk has implemented drills where the entire team is effected by the result of special teams execution. The team's kick-offs, which ranked 98th in the country, are one area where the stakes were raised in the offseason. During spring practices, members of both the offense and defense would form squares on opposite sides of the 10-yard line. The reward for landing kick-offs inside the squares? Less running after practice.