Last Saturday, Cal Football hosted the annual Spring Game before a crowd of more than 3,000 in attendance at Memorial Stadium. Coach Jeff Tedford and the Golden Bears concluded four weeks of practices and workouts with an exciting scrimmage featuring plenty of offense.
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On the same day that former Cal star Aaron Rodgers was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, quarterbacks Nate Longshore and Joe Ayoob competed for the starting position. "There is no front runner," according to Coach Tedford. "We'll come into fall and there will be competition." On Saturday,the two signal-callers combined to complete 12-of-15 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns. Longshore, a redshirt-freshman, was 5-for-6 for 106 yards and three scores. He connected with LaReylle Cunningham on a 47-yard pass for one TD, with his other touchdown tosses going to Noah Smith (29 yards) and Robert Jordan (24 yards). Ayoob, the transfer from City College of San Francisco, finished the day 7-for-9 for 192 yards. His lone TD strike was a 70-yarder to Smith on his first attempt of the afternoon.
Smith clearly had his most productive effort in three spring scrimmages with his two receptions covering 99 yards. "I was very pleased with Noah's performance," Tedford said. "He made some plays, which is nice to see. It's nice to see him end spring practice that way, and he can probably take some confidence away from it."
No receiver caught more than two passes during the scrimmage, which was played under cloudy skies and off-and-on rain showers. In addition to Smith, Cunningham had two catches for 48 yards and two scores, Jordan had two for 29 yards and Sam DeSa had a pair for 31 yards. On the ground, tailback Marshawn Lynch continued with his impressive play, rushing seven times for 101 yards, including a 46-yard TD scamper during which he broke a tackle, cut left and, behind a key downfield block from Longshore, raced down the sideline into the end zone. Fellow running back Marcus O'Keith scored three touchdowns in his six carries, finishing with 39 yards, while Justin Forsett had 17 yards on eight rushes and Terrell Williams added 20 yards on six attempts.
Defensively, cornerback Harrison Smith had an interception and a blocked punt, and end Phillip Mbakogu produced a pair of sacks. On special teams, Daymeion Hughes had a 92-yard kickoff return for a score, and Brandon Hampton returned a punt 85 yards for another touchdown. Noah Smith also blocked a punt on special teams that was returned for a score by Eric Snell.
The Bears resume practice for the fall season in early August. Cal opens the 2005 schedule against Sacramento State on Saturday, September 3 in Memorial Stadium.