Sunday, April 03, 2005

Center of Attention

By Ted Lee Editor, The Bear InsiderDate: Apr 3, 2005
Look out USC, he's back.
UCLA, Washington, Oregon, and Stanford; prepare for some long afternoons.
Last season was good, but for some people 10-2 isn't good enough. First-team All Pac-10's a fine honor, that first-team honor wasn't too shabby either. Being named a finalist for the Dave Rimington trophy was lofty acknowledgment as well.
But in 2005, Marvin Philip has an even higher goal.
"I want to be the best center in the nation."
In 2004, California's offensive line was one of the most dominant units in college football. The Bears rushed for a school-record 3,081 yards, including 300+ yard efforts against Air Force, New Mexico State, Washington, Stanford, and Southern Mississippi. They were one of only two teams to run for more than 150 yards against national champion USC, and the Bears were the only team to gain more than 400 yards against the Trojans. Cal's rushing offense was so dominant that a case could be made that the Bears could've changed the outcome of the Holiday Bowl had they continued to keep running the ball until the Red Raiders showed they could stop them.
All five of California's offensive linemen were honored by the Pac-10 - Philip and Ryan O'Callaghan were named to the first-team, Andrew Cameron, Aaron Merz, and Jonathan Giesel were named honorable mention, and of that quintet, only Giesel was lost to graduation.
At the heart of the line is its center - the 6-2, 280 lb. Philip - who briefly considered entering the NFL draft in the offseason.
"I definitely considered it," said Philip. "I spoke with Coach (Jeff) Tedford and Coach (Jim) Michalczik and I decided it was best for me to come back. It wasn't going to hurt me to return and I wasn't in a financial situation where I needed to leave. Staying another year will allow me to get stronger."
Philip is one of the team's elder statesmen. One of the few remaining players who was recruited by Tom Holmoe, Philip saw playing time in 2000, getting his first start just three games into the season. Following that season, he went a two-year Mormon mission, returning to join the Bears for 2003 season. Philip started the final five games of that season, during which the Bears went 4-1 and set the table for a marvelously successful 2004 season. Marvelously successful except for that doggoned Holiday Bowl.
"The last game left a bitter taste," said the Cameron Park native. "Looking at the bigger picture it was nice to look back at the season and appreciate what we did, but that Holiday Bowl's not how we wanted to remember the season. But that's also the sort of game that'll keep you from resting on your laurels."
He has no concerns that the Bears might become complacent following the success and dominance of last year.
"We've had to come a long way just to get on the map," Philip said. "In some ways we've got an all new team. We've lost 20 lettermen and we've got a lot of guys who've been with us who haven't yet played and need to get experience. They bring a lot of desire, they want to get out there and get after it. They've got fresh legs and bring a young attitude..."
"Instead," said the 23-year-old lineman, with a hint of mischief, "of that old man mentality."
(This is the second in a periodic series of profiles about the 2005 football team. Coming in future profiles: Fahim Mujaahid Abd Allah, Donte Hughes and Joseph Ayoob.)
Saturday practice notes: After trying placekicking and punting last season, it appears that David Lonie will concentrate on punting this season...Tom Schneider, Anthony Binswanger and Jordan Kay all showed good leg strength; although Kay initially struggled with kicks from the left hash mark including one awkward-looking daisy cutter...Brandon Hampton was working alongside Tim Mixon during punt receiving drills...For those who were wondering if the option play has been mothballed yet, looks like you'll have to wait until next year...Loudest hit of the day went to Desmond Bishop who nailed Noah Smith on a reverse play...During one set of drills where the a defender has to shed a blocker before tackling the ball carrier - a drill which generally favors the offense, Bishop and Brandon Mebane were two of the stronger performers...During a set of drills where the defender has to keep the ball carrier from going into the end zone, excellent efforts were made by Bishop, Cameron Toler, Virdell Larkins, Ryan Foltz, David Gray, Brian Cristol, and Byron Storer threw one spin move on a defender that was Playstation-worthy...While Marshawn Lynch usually receives plaudits for his running, he did a fine job during blocking drills, pancaking one blocker and containing a hard-charging Bishop during consecutive sequences...Among the members of the incoming recruiting class in attendance was Kyle Reed, who after practice played catch with Nate Longshore - while the two were 50 yards apart.

No comments: