Sunday, April 24, 2005

WR Smith blows past secondary in Spring Game

Cal notebook
BERKELEY -- Cal coach Jeff Tedford kept waiting for one of his wide receivers to make his move during spring football camp and Noah Smith finally cooperated.
During Cal's Spring Game on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Smith caught 70- and 29-yard touchdown passes, simply blowing past the Golden Bears' secondary in the process.
Smith, a former track star out of Taft High School in Lakeview, has been consistent in creating separation between himself and the defensive backs. However, once free, Smith has been inconsistent catching the ball.
Now a sophomore, his questionable hands made him a longshot to become one of Cal's starters in the 2005 season. But all that might have changed on Saturday.
"I absolutely was pleased with Noah's performance," Tedford said following the scrimmage, which marks the final day of Cal's spring camp. "He's been working very hard and he made some plays.
"He has shown that it is possible. Now he has to do it at a consistent level."
With a 10.51 time under his belt in the 100 meters, Smith has the speed to stretch the field. However, his inconsistency and a broken wrist held him to only two catches in 2004.
If he can copy his performance from Saturday, though, he could play a big role on the 2005 squad.
"I focused and put my best foot forward," said Smith, who also blocked a punt during the scrimmage. "It all comes down to concentration and not worrying about anything else."
Scrimmage highlights
Cal's offense dominated Saturday's scrimmage, but Tedford didn't match the two first-team units against each other. That made it easy pickings for tailback Marshawn Lynch, who rushed seven times for 101 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown run.
Both quarterbacks, junior Joe Ayoob and redshirt freshman Nate Longshore, looked sharp. Ayoob went 7-of-9 for 192 yards and the 70-yard touchdown pass to Smith. Longshore was 5-of-6 for 106 yards and three touchdowns.
"Joe did OK," Tedford said. "If you have watched him from the first day of spring to now, there was a marked improvement. He looked comfortable and he did a nice job of getting the signals from the sideline and running the show. He is getting more comfortable every day."
On the defensive side, Tedford praised the play of sophomore defensive end Phillip Mbakogu, who had consecutive sacks of Longshore, and junior linebacker Desmond Bishop. "Phillip made some great plays off the edge," Tedford said. "He really took a step forward. And Bishop played very well."
Extra points
Cal cornerback Daymeion Hughes had a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. "David Lonie (Cal's kicker) was chasing him and David can run like a deer," Tedford said. "But he ran away, I've been waiting to see that." ... Tedford said place-kicker Tom Schneider had a solid spring in which he showed off a much stronger leg. Tedford said Schneider, Lonie (who punts) and Anthony Binswanger (kickoffs) all have held off challenges for their jobs with solid efforts. ... Cal's only injury of the scrimmage was long snapper Christopher Janeway, who suffered a knee injury that Tedford said might need surgery.

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