Saturday, April 29, 2006

Yahoo! Sports: BCS officials: Ineligible Bush could dethrone USC

NEW YORK – Assertions by Michael Michaels – the lead investor in a doomed sports agency and the owner of a Spring Valley, Calif., home occupied by the family of Reggie Bush – could cost the University of Southern California its 2004 Bowl Championship Series national championship.  BCS officials told Yahoo! Sports on Friday that if Bush is ruled ineligible by either the Pacific 10 Conference or the NCAA for even one game during the 2004 season, the BCS will discuss amending its rules to allow it to force the Trojans to vacate the national championship.  "This is the type of thing the BCS might have to look into if other governing bodies, the conference and the NCAA, take action," BCS administrator Bill Hancock said.

Previously, Bush's eligibility for the 2005 season, which saw him win the Heisman Trophy and lead USC back to the BCS title game, had been questioned because of Michaels' statement that Bush's family failed to pay $54,000 in rent from April 2005 to April 2006.  Michaels' claims, which he has promised will be backed up by corroborating evidence, moves the timeline of Bush's potential ineligibility back to the Trojans' 2004 undefeated BCS national championship season.  In a statement released to Yahoo! Sports on Friday, Michaels' attorney, Brian Watkins, said that in October 2004 Michaels was approached at a San Diego Chargers football game by Bush's stepfather LaMar Griffin about investing and partnering in New Era Sports & Entertainment, a new sports agency.   In November 2004, Michaels then met with Griffin, longtime Bush friend Lloyd Lake and Bush himself to discuss the plan where the USC running back would be the firm's central client when he turned pro in the spring of 2006.

"In November 2004, in San Diego, Reggie Bush, recruited by his stepfather to validate Mr. Griffin's company, convinced [Michaels and Lake] of its viability," Watkins said in the statement.  "There was the representation that Reggie would come with his stepfather," Watkins told Yahoo! Sports on Friday. "Reggie ratified that."  Michaels said that soon thereafter Griffin asked him to pay off $28,000 of Griffin's personal debt, which Michaels obliged.  In April 2005, Griffin said "they were having housing problems" and Michaels allowed them to move into a $757,000, 3,000-square-foot home he owned in Spring Valley, a San Diego suburb. According to Michaels, Griffin and Bush's mother, Denise Griffin, failed to pay any of the agreed upon $4,500 monthly rent on the property before Michaels evicted the family last week.  Michaels also told Yahoo! Sports that he paid for Bush's family to travel to some USC road games during the 2005 season.

Bush, who is now projected to be the second overall pick in Saturday's NFL draft, has denied knowledge of any deal his family may have had with Michaels. Meanwhile, Michaels has said he will file a lawsuit against Bush and his family to recoup "approximately $300,000 in out-of-pocket costs alone, over 1½ years." He is also seeking damages to a total of $3.2 million.  Michaels and Bush had tried to reach a settlement on monies owed over the past few months.  A Feb. 13, 2006 letter obtained by Yahoo! Sports from Watkins to Bush's attorney, David Cornwell, that discusses settlement talks contains the following passage:  "Please advise if it is your intention to involve the University in these settlement negotiations. We would not object to their participation as we understand their wanting to be involved due to the fact that this matter was on going during their championship season of 2004 as well as the entire season of 2005, and any lawsuit filed might have an adverse effect on them."

Bush's NCAA eligibility would have been compromised by any gift that either he or his family received from the aspiring agents, either Michaels or Lake. The paying off of the $28,000 loan, the exact date of which is not known, is a clear NCAA violation. Also, a source inside the NCAA's compliance office said simply setting up the New Era partnership could be deemed an "extra benefit."  Officials at New York's Downtown Athletic Club, which award the Heisman Trophy, have said that they could take back Bush's honor if he is deemed ineligible by the NCAA. Now the 2004 season, which USC went 13-0, is under question.  The NCAA itself does not crown a champion in Division I-A football. Officially, USC captured the 2004 BCS national championship, which is administered by a consortium of major football conferences. As a result, while the NCAA could strip the Trojans of all their victories in 2004, it could not force USC to vacate its title because the BCS championship is administered outside of NCAA jurisdiction.  The BCS currently has no policy on possibly forcing a school to give up its championship, according to Hancock.  "The BCS is not a governing body," said BCS coordinator Mike Slive, who is also commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.  However, in the wake of the latest details involving Bush, discussion has occurred within the BCS that if the NCAA or the Pac-10 were to rule that USC must forfeit any or all games from the 2004 season – including its Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma – the BCS could rewrite its bylaws and retroactively take away the Trojans' championship.  Only seven times has the NCAA forced a school to vacate a national championship but never in any of its marquee sports. The most recent examples are 2002 with the Hawaii men's volleyball team and 1995 with the UCLA softball team, both for using ineligible players.



Thursday, April 27, 2006

More USC Scandal: USC QB Arrested for Sexual Assault

Southern California backup quarterback Mark Sanchez was released from jail early Thursday following his arrest for investigation of sexually assaulting a female student, police said. Sanchez, 19, was arrested around 4 p.m. at an apartment complex near campus. He was released shortly after midnight after posting $200,000 bail, sheriff's deputy Ban Nguyen said.  No other details were immediately available. USC officials said they will temporarily suspend Sanchez while police conduct their investigation.

"The university takes charges of sexual assault seriously," Michael Jackson, USC vice president of student affairs, said in a statement. "Depending on the facts as established by the LAPD, we will determine the appropriate action." USC coach Pete Carroll said he was aware of Sanchez's arrest and that the Trojans football program would cooperate with police and "follow along with whatever action the university takes." Sanchez is listed on the Trojans' depth chart as the backup to John David Booty, but was expected to battle for the starting job this fall. Booty practiced only once this spring before he injured his back and had to undergo surgery. Sanchez, a redshirt freshman, played the recent spring scrimmage and has been practicing with the first unit. His arrest was the latest of several brushes with the law for USC players, dating back to last year. Cornerback Eric Wright was arrested in March 2005 at a campus apartment by officers investigating reports of an assault. The Los Angeles district attorney's office declined to press criminal charges against Wright because of insufficient evidence.  Wright left USC amid possible disciplinary action by the school and transferred to UNLV.  Linebacker Rey Maualuga was arrested Nov. 1 for allegedly punching a man at an off-campus party, but no criminal charges were filed. He sat out the first half of the game against Stanford the following weekend as punishment.



Monday, April 24, 2006

Oakland Tribune: Cal's deep defense has mayhem in mind

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER

BERKELEY — The focus was on Cal's offense, and its unsettled quarterback situation, in Saturday's windup of spring practice. But the Bears' defense proved larcenous in stealing the show.   "Our defense probably is gonna be ranked in the top five of the country," quarterback Steve Levy said. "It's unbelievable. Everyone's got speed. Everyone's got strength. One, two, three."  Levy meant Cal's defense is three deep in talent.  "You're not going to play on a lower level playing against the threes," Levy said. "Hats off to (defensive coordinator) Bob Gregory, who did a good job recruiting and scheme-wise."  Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Gregory sent his first, second and third defensive units against Cal's offense, and held the upper hand throughout.  Cal's offense has been slightly ahead of the defense since Jeff Tedford arrived in 2002. But the gap has closed, and Levy can't wait to see the final picture.  "As a whole, if we put it all together we're gonna be unstoppable," he said. "This could be, potentially, the best team Cal's ever seen."

Comparisons to Cal's Wonder Teams, Thunder Team and Pappy's Boys must wait. But what is needed for Cal to make its mark nationally in 2006?  "Wins, camaraderie, leadership," Levy said.  DeSean Jackson stood out Saturday. He caught a short inside pass from Longshore and turned it into a 70-yard touchdown on the first play of the controlled scrimmage. Then he returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown, resembling a miniature Deion Sanders.   Jackson had one punt return last season, a 49-yard touchdown against Sacramento State in the opener. Does he  need to be out there more?  "Yeah, we've got to have him out there," said Tedford.  Cornerback Tim Mixon cut in front of a Kyle Reed pass to Sean Young, picked it off, and had an easy 85-yard touchdown run.  Cal had punt blocks by Marcus Ezeff and Virdell Larkins that turned into touchdowns on short returns by Greg Van Hoesen and Jared Vanderbeek.

Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett ran well, both scoring touchdowns, although neither had a long run because of the sure-tackling defense.  "The tackling was very good today, Tedford said. "It comes with athleticism and speed. They're in a position to make plays, and they're confident in their ability to tackle."  Tedford said that this could be his best tackling team at Cal.  Linebacker Justin Moye was the surprise of the spring in winning a starting job. And Cal's finest grouping of talent is its linebackers.  What other Bears stood out?  "Alex Mack did a real good job at center," Tedford said. "(Fullback) Will Ta'ufo'ou had a great spring; he's very physical and opened some eyes. Defensively, (safety) Bernard Hicks made a huge impact."  And the irrepressible Levy, the quarterback-turned-fullback-turned quarterback, also opened eyes ... as a punter. He got off punts of 43 and 42 yards.


USC Scandal


Pac-10 to investigate family residence of Reggie Bush

Reggie Bush is expected to go No. 1 in Saturday's draft.

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. — The proof that Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush's family resided at a Spring Valley home during Bush's junior season is etched in concrete. Scrawled in all-capital letters on the driveway of the home in this suburban community just southeast of San Diego is the "THE GRIFFIN'S '05." That refers to Bush's mother, Denise Griffin, stepfather LaMar Griffin and younger half-brother. The family lived there until Thursday, when a reporter from The Miami Herald came to ask about the ownership of the home. On Friday, moving trucks showed up to take the family's belongings. As the former USC running back prepares to become the likely No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft on Saturday, questions persist about whether NCAA rules were violated because of ties between his relatives and the owner. Documents reviewed by the newspaper show that the $757,000 house at the corner of Apple and Luther streets was purchased by Michael Michaels, a member and employee of a prominent Indian tribe in the San Diego area. Two sources said Michaels was planning to form a marketing and contract agency that would feature Bush as a client.

The connection between Michaels and the Griffins and how they came to live in the home could constitute a violation of NCAA eligibility rules for Bush and USC. The story was first reported by on Sunday. After being contacted by The Herald, USC said the school was forwarding the matter to the Pac-10 for investigation. Pac-10 spokesman Jim Muldoon told The Associated Press on Sunday that an investigation will be held. A source within the NCAA said it is likely the organization also will conduct an investigation. "Rather than jumping to conclusions, we need to determine the facts before commenting on this report," Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett said in a statement released by the school Friday. "We have asked the Pac-10 to look into this." On Thursday, Denise Griffin, Bush's mother, declined to comment when asked about the matter by a Herald reporter. The next day, moving trucks were at the home where Bush's relatives resided during much of the 2005 football season, when Bush was playing for USC. According to NCAA guidelines, the relationship between the family and Michaels could constitute a violation, even if Bush had no knowledge of the relationship. Neighbors of Bush's family members said the family had been living at the home since last year. Michaels purchased the home in April 2005, shortly after it was built.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Contra Costa Times: Cal's quarterback race on hold

Longshore No. 1 on depth chart, two others still vying for starting job

By Jay Heater

BERKELEY - Cal's quarterback race during spring football never started. That's because the guy considered No. 1 by the coaching staff, Nate Longshore, isn't ready to run. Moments after the Golden Bears finished their final scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, Longshore acknowledged that he was a stationary target. That was despite him throwing a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. "I'm sure everyone could see it," said Longshore, who has been recovering from a broken leg and ankle injuries since the 2005 season opener. "I'm pedestrian at best (in terms of speed)." Before spring ball began, Cal coach Jeff Tedford said he wanted to narrow his search for a quarterback to two main candidates going into summer camp. That wasn't possible because Longshore was still gimpy from rehab and Tedford needs a mobile quarterback to run his new offense that will include spread tactics.

Even so, Tedford said on Saturday that Longshore's inability to move didn't hurt him, either. Longshore will begin summer camp in the same spot, as No. 1 on the depth chart. "Nate needs to get his feet quicker," Tedford said. "That will make a big difference for him. I have confidence in him that he will do that." If Longshore's rehabilitation did anything, it probably just kept the door open for both Joe Ayoob and Steve Levy. Tedford said those two quarterbacks, who will be seniors next season, rate almost in a dead-heat with Longshore. Ayoob probably made the biggest move of the three. Seemingly buried on the depth chart after a disappointing 2005 season, he impressed Tedford with his ability to run the spread offense. "This offense is awesome," Ayoob said. "It fits me well. Sitting in the shotgun gives me the feeling of being in control. I know everything that is going on. "I'm also playing better because the expectations aren't so much on me, and playing last year has made the speed of the game slow down."

Ayoob became excited when he heard Northwestern offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar was hired to combine the spread with Tedford's offense. "It lit a fire under me," said Ayoob, who missed Saturday's scrimmage (except for holding duties on place kicks) due to a high ankle sprain. "It was like I was starting with a clean slate and it's something I am comfortable running."  Levy, who guided the Bears to season-ending wins over Stanford and BYU, also remains in the mix. "I threw the ball pretty well during the spring and really well at the end. I'm confident."  Red-shirt freshman Kyle Reed still needs some seasoning before he makes a run at becoming a starter, according to Tedford.  While finding a quarterback was the primary theme of spring ball, building the offensive line was a close second. Cal offensive line coach Jim Michalczik said he didn't figure out a starting lineup during camp.

"But that doesn't worry me," Michalczik said. "You rarely find five guys who play together through a whole season." Michalczik said offensive guard Erik Robertson, tackle Scott Smith and center Alex Mack have risen to the top. But two spots remain wide open with several candidates in the mix. Players who made big moves in the spring, according to Tedford, were fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou, linebacker Justin Moye, safety Bernard Hicks and Mack. "We got a lot done this spring," Tedford said. "I think our spring was an overall success. We had a lot of young players get their feet wet and everything went smooth." Spring scrimmage gets off to explosive start

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Cal football's new offense paid off quickly Saturday when DeSean Jackson took an inside screen pass from Nate Longshore and went 70 yards for a touchdown on the Bears' first play in a controlled scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. "I think it went just fine," head coach Jeff Tedford said afterward. "We got a chance to learn some of the concepts. The biggest thing was adjusting to the shotgun. We'll take a look this summer how much of that we want to do and how much of the traditional offense we want to do." Tedford's first four Cal teams were fairly potent. The Bears finished 26th in the country last season in total offense, ninth in rushing offense. Tedford wanted more following an 8-4 record in 2005, finished off with a Big Game victory over Stanford and a 35-28 triumph over Brigham Young in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl.

Enter new offensive coordinator Mile Dunbar from Northwestern. His Wildcats last year were only the second team in Big Ten history to average 500 or more yards a game, running many plays out of the spread offense. All that remains is to select a quarterback out of four candidates to run the show. Longshore is in the lead to reclaim the job he lost in the season opener last year when he broke an ankle in the first half against Sacramento State. Also in the hunt are senior junior college transfer Joe Ayoob, who started nine games last year, and senior Steve Levy, at the helm for the final two games. Ayoob was restricted to holding for placekicks in the scrimmage because of a high ankle sprain. "We'll make a decision on who's best for us offensively," Tedford said about the preparation for the Sept. 2 opener at Tennessee. "Nate will take the first snaps of the fall, but it really doesn't matter. Joe sat out today but did a great job throughout the spring and will definitely be in the mix during the fall." Later in the scrimmage, Longshore connected with tight end Craig Stevens for an 11-yard score. Redshirt freshmen, quarterback Kyle Reed and tight end Cameron Morrah, teamed up for a five-yard scoring play.

Running back Marshawn Lynch ran into the end zone from three and five yards out. His backup, Justin Forsett, scored from 11 yards out. "We have the personnel to run the new offense well," Longshore said. "This definitely will be an asset for our team. We're learning it slowly, but were getting a grasp of it. It can only get better." Using Lynch the way Southern California utilized Reggie Bush also will be a big part of the Cal offense. "We want to throw different types of passes to Marshawn as well as hand him the ball from the spread and create running lanes," Dunbar said. "We want to get him out in space where he can do his thing one-on-one against matchups." Longshore throws for 2 TDs in scrimmage

After four weeks of practices and a final scrimmage on Saturday, the reporters huddled around California head coach Jeff Tedford trying to get his read on who might be the leading candidate to be the starting quarterback this fall. 

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SF Chronicle: Cal's spring ends with Longshore in the saddle


Bruce Adams, Chronicle Staff Writer

After completing six passes in nine attempts for 113 yards and two touchdowns, Nate Longshore was named Cal's No. 1 quarterback -- for the time being.  Coach Jeff Tedford made the announcement Saturday after the Bears' final spring session, quickly noting "it really doesn't matter."  While Longshore will take the first snaps when fall camp beings, competition will continue between him, Joe Ayoob, who didn't play Saturday after incurring a high ankle sprain earlier in the week, Kyle Reed and Steve Levy.  Longshore, who missed most of the year with a severe ankle injury, still needs to get his mobility back, Tedford said.  In Saturday's scrimmage, Longshore and wide receiver DeSean Jackson connected on a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the day.  Tailback Marshawn Lynch ran for 50 yards and two touchdowns and backup Justin Forsett gained 45 yards and scored one touchdown.  Reed went 7-for-8 for 23 yards and one touchdown. Levy was 3-for-9 and 32 yards.  Cornerback Tim Mixon intercepted a Reed pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown.  The Bears now go into offseason conditioning, reporting back for fall camp in early August. They open Sept. 2 at Tennessee.  

Spring grades: Tedford said players having outstanding springs included center Alex Mack, defensive back Bernard Hicks and fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou.  "We got a lot done," he said. "We learned a lot."

Coaching plan: The coaching staff will spend a good portion of the offseason fine-turning the Bears' new offense.  The team will be incorporating elements of the spread-option.  New offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar ran the spread at Northwestern, where the Wildcats had the No. 4 ranked offense in the nation last year.  Tedford said the staff would try and determine the extent the team will run out of the old conventional system and the recently popularized spread, which can spread receivers across the field while retaining a strong run game.

Position changes: The Bears made two significant position changes in the spring.  David Gray was moved back to wide receiver. Gray began his career at Cal as a wideout and was moved to tight end last year.  Tedford said that in spread formations Gray, who is an accomplished receiver, can still line up inside where his size -- he is 6-foot-3, 232 pounds -- could be put to use as a blocker.   Chet Teofilo was moved from the defensive line to the offensive line where he'll be used at tackle. Line coach Jim Michalczik said coaches believe Teofilo, 6-3, 295 pounds, has more potential on offense.


Oakland Tribune: Tedford will wait to pick Cal's starting QB

Longshore, Levy and Ayoob all have looked good in spring drills

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER

BERKELEY — Jeff Tedford announced a few weeks ago that he'd have his Cal quarterback rotation set by the end of spring practice. Well, that time arrived Saturday, but he pinned a notation to that rotation: not yet.   "It really hasn't changed," he said. "The top three have the experience, and that would be Nate (Longshore), Steve (Levy) and Joe (Ayoob) in no particular order."  Which means redshirt freshman Kyle Reed will be fourth in the rotation when fall camp gets under way in three months.  Tedford emphasized that summer workouts and fall camp matter more than spring practice. He said Longshore would take the first snaps in fall camp, but that doesn't guarantee his starting Saturday, Sept.2, at Tennessee.  "Nate needs to get his feet a lot quicker, which he hasn't been able to do because he's coming off the broken leg," Tedford said. "But I have confidence that he will work real hard on that."  With Cal merging a new spread offense with its regular pro set, would a mobile quarterback, which Longshore isn't, be a consideration?  "That helps," Tedford said.  Saturday's crowd of 3,000 at Memorial Stadium watched Longshore, Levy and Reed throw the ball with some success.

Ayoob's week-old high-ankle sprain restricted him to holding for placekicks in the final spring scrimmage.  "Joe has done a great job this spring," Tedford said. "I'm definitely encouraged by what Joe has done, and he's definitely in the mix in competing for the (No. 1) spot."  And Levy?

"Same thing," the coach said.  Longshore, Ayoob and Levy all started for Cal last year. Longshore broke his ankle in the opener against Sacramento State. Ayoob then went 5-4 before Levy quarterbacked Big Game and Las Vegas Bowl victories.  "That doesn't really matter to me," Longshore said of his not yet being named a permanent No.1. "What the three other guys do doesn't affect me. I just need to get better for myself. I've never really been a runner in the offenses I've been in, but with some work it can be more natural."

"That's a good sign," Levy said of the extended competition. "I've thrown the ball well the last week and a half, and opened some eyes. I'm getting things done with my feet and my arm, and trying to prove people wrong who don't think I have an arm like the rest of these guys. I feel confident."  Ayoob excelled in a spread offense at City College of San Francisco.  "I didn't expect much," he said of this spring. "I think they saw my comfort level in this (spread) offense, and I think I performed well. Anybody could have the job at this point. It's going to be a battle."


Saturday, April 22, 2006

SF Chronicle: Cal's offensive line is a row of question marks

Bruce Adams, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cal offensive line coach Jim Michalczik says one of the big questions heading into spring football practice will remain, for the time being, a mystery.  That would be the Bears' offensive line, a unit that loses its mainstays to graduation.  "I think there's still a lot of uncertainty, to be honest, as to who the starters are going to be, and who the guys are who'll be the key backups," Michalczik said.  Gone are center Marvin Philip and tackle Ryan O'Callaghan, both first-team All-Pac-10 and both with All-American honors, and guard Aaron Merz, also with all-conference honors.  Tackle Andrew Cameron, who would be a fifth-year senior next year, will graduate and is probably also gone.  The only returning starter is guard Erik Robertson.  "It's a pretty young group," Michalczik said of next season's unit. "Every day, we're getting better. We're waiting to see who steps up."  Even with the collective youth on the line, the Bears have solid experience, due to a rash of injuries to the regulars last year.  Returning players with solid game experience include center Alex Mack, tackle Scott Smith and guard Noris Malele.

Tackle Mike Tepper, who missed last season with a severe leg injury incurred in an off-field criminal assault, should be in the mix. His spring, however, has been cut short by a concussion.  Michalczik said tackle Chet Teofilo, a recently converted defensive lineman, has been a "pleasant surprise" in spring drills.  "We figure he's a good defensive lineman with the potential to be a great offensive lineman," Michalczik said. "He's lost half the time. Everything is new to him."  In fact, all the linemen are on new ground as head coach Jeff Tedford incorporates elements of the spread-option into his more conventional offense.  Michalczik said the new offense -- with receivers spread across the field -- could make the line's job a little easier in the running game because opponents won't be able to crowd defenders near the line of scrimmage.

He said it also could make the running game a bit less predictable.  "We were probably too much tight end oriented in the past, always running to the tight end's side," he said. The spread adds another wrinkle, he added, with the quarterback able to be utilized more as another runner or another blocker.  The most obvious change is for the center, who now will often have to snap the ball five yards back to the quarterback, who lines up in the shotgun for the spread.  "It's not really hard to just snap the ball," Michalczik said. "But it becomes more difficult when you snap it, and you're then moving and getting ready to block somebody."  Mack said he's making the transition to the longer snaps. He also said the new offense really wasn't that different, with the Bears still using the same basic running plays.  As for pass protection, he said the line's philosophy remains the same.  "Forever and a day," he said. "Never give up a block." Analysis of Cal's New Recruit Bernard Hicks

By: Jim McGill

Staff Writer

Date: Apr 22, 2006

The Cal Bears' football recruiting efforts for the defensive backfield will be on display this season as a crop of young defensive backs recruited by Cal head coach Jeff Tedford and his staff step in and take over at the safety positions and see playing time in nickel formations against passing situations. 

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Oakland Tribune: Cal aims to spread'em, shred'em next season

Tedford has added the QB-friendly spread offense, to go along with pro set

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER

BERKELEY — Jeff Tedford really is a mad tinkerer after all. He has imported the spread offense to Cal, and now has to figure out how to balance it with his more familiar pro set offense.    Tedford has shown he is flexible, willing to try something new. And so he has succumbed to the Urban Meyer craze, the wide-open spread approach that is taking over college football.   The only question is: Why Cal?  Well, with Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and LenDale White leaving USC, and Maurice Drew saying goodbye to UCLA, Cal and Oregon are likely Pac-10 co-favorites, and the Ducks changed to the spread last year.  But Tedford may be that rare coach trying to win with two offenses.  "It's another dimension of offense, something tough to defend, something where our defense can practice against it," he said of the spread. "It utilizes our personnel pretty well. All those reasons."  Cal doesn't have as many tall receivers as USC and Oregon, but theBears wideouts are quick and fast, and the spread gives them more room to maneuver. And Cal tailbacks Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett should be even more explosive against defenses designed primarily to stop the pass.

"You see so many eight-man boxes these days," said Tedford. "You spread people out, you can run the football. We have quite a bit of speed on the field."  Contrary to popular belief, Tedford believes more strongly in the run than the pass. But he doesn't have the massive, experienced, overpowering offensive line he had in 2005. With the spread, though, blocking angles become more important.  "We're a little bit more athletic right now," Tedford said of his offensive line, which returns one starter, guard Erik Robertson, from the beginning of last season. "Those are things you have to take advantage of."  The spread is designed for mobile quarterbacks, and Cal has three — Joe Ayoob, Steve Levy and Kyle Reed. Nate Longshore isn't as mobile, but he's the starter at the moment. Tedford, though, isn't concerned.  "At times, you're going to need the quarterback to pull the ball down and make some plays," he said. "It's that way in anything; we always have some form of the option in our game plan."  How much spread will be used at Cal? No percentage has been determined yet. That will come sometime much later after Saturday's noontime scrimmage that will wind up spring football.  Tedford has previous experience with the spread in Canada, so he's not exactly shooting from the hip. However, he wanted someone who coached it every day. Northwestern averaged 500.3 yards of offense in 2005, No.4 in the country. Mike Dunbar was the Wildcats' offensive coordinator. "I didn't hear his name," Tedford said of his initial search. "I looked at tapes of a lot of the offenses around the country, the running and pass production. I was at the (NCAA) convention (in Dallas) and I said, 'Does anybody know who is the coordinator at Northwestern?'"

Dunbar attended the same convention. Tedford tracked him down and Dunbar, a former head coach at Northern Iowa and Central Washington, agreed to come back west. He's from the Seattle area, and is a 1972 Washington graduate.  "You really play a numbers game," Dunbar said of the spread. "If there's six in the box, you do this. If there's seven, you do that. You have to force people to cover you."  Northwestern rolled up nearly 700 yards against Wisconsin last fall in upsetting the Badgers. No wonder the spread has become so popular.  "It's quarterback-friendly," Dunbar said. "He's back there five yards and can see the field. He just has to see safeties; he makes his decisions off those safeties."  No offense is perfect, not even the spread, which lacks a tight end.  "There are flaws," Dunbar said, "like your inability to protect the edge when you get close to the goal line, because you have one less blocker. So you use things like the bubble screen."  He believes the spread, and a mixture of the spread and pro set, can be implemented with a spring and fall practice. Conceptually, the two offenses aren't that far apart. And Dunbar feels Cal's personnel fits the spread. So is this the right offense to spring on the Pac-10 at this time? "I think so," Dunbar said. "Coach Tedford is offensive-minded. He's one who has tried to stay ahead of the game. And he sees the spread evolving. Five years ago, when we started at Northwestern, there were very few teams using the spread. Now there's a whole lot more.  "But the ability to mix the two is the intriguing new part." And if the two bring Cal its first Rose Bowl bid in 48 years, why not?


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Oakland Tribune: Cal player stands up as a good Samaritan

Tepper shuns hero tag, though football lineman suffered broken leg coming to woman's defense

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER

BERKELEYSometimes the biggest heroes are those who don't see themselves as heroes.  Mike Tepper is a hero, although he is blinded by such a glaring light. And so he tries, unsuccessfully, to hide his giant frame in its shadow.   "I'm just Mike Tepper; I'm not some super hero," said Tepper, a Cal football lineman. "I try to stay humble. What I did was something I would have done for any of my friends, any of my family."  Even Camille Leffall, the Cal volleyball player  whom Tepper defended heroically 10 months ago, doesn't place a halo over his head. "It's not like that at all," she said. "He's a great friend. He stood up for me. There's nothing heroic about it."

But who can truly define heroism? One of Webster's definitions of "heroic" is "daring and risky, but used as a last resort." That certainly would describe Tepper's actions on the night of June 26, 2005.  Leffall was crossing Telegraph Avenue when a car pulled up filled with young men. They propositioned her. She wasn't interested. Then as she tried to pass in front of the car, the car sped up and blocked her. Tepper was walking along behind. He caught up with Leffall and told those in the car that she wasn't interested. Then the two walked behind the car to avoid further hassling.  The driver put the car in reverse. Tepper pushed Leffall out of the way, but the car hit him and, as he fell, ran over his right leg. Then the driver shifted into drive and ran over the leg again.

A police officer witnessed the incident. He called an ambulance and applied a tourniquet to Tepper's leg, which was bleeding severely. He had a broken fibula, a dislocated tibia and ligament damage. At Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, his broken leg received a plate and two screws.   Tepper's football season was over. The driver of the car, who was on parole, was returned to prison. Leffall now is pursuing a broadcasting career. The 6-foot-6, 334-pound Tepper not only has rehabilitated himself, but also he's, remarkably, starting at offensive left tackle in spring practice.   "It's coming along," he said of his progress. "I wouldn't say it's coming along fast. I need some work, but it's going to be there."   Tepper's idleness — he hasn't played in two years, a redshirt freshman in'04 — has reduced his speed. Though he feels he's 95 to 100 percent recovered, he still  needs work on technique and explosion.

"I didn't think I'd be coming back in this position," he said of starting. "It's really exciting. The coaches believe I've earned my spot." "He's gifted, a big athletic guy," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He's very powerful, but he has quick feet, and he can run. The injury isn't going to be his hindrance; it's getting used to the speed of the game."

"The biggest thing with Mike is a lot of rust," offensive line coach Jim Michalczik said. "He's making the effort, and he's such a good athlete, that it's going to come. Greatness is not a destination, it's a journey." Tepper is on some kind of journey given the events of last June 26. But the man he's replacing at left tackle believes he will get there. "He's big and physical with tons and tons of potential," said Andrew Cameron, who quit football because of multiple injuries with a year of eligibility left. "What I remember about him is that he was progressing upward. It's a shame he was hurt last year because he would have seen some playing time. He'll do a good job for the Bears."   Perhaps, Tepper's role as a hero is taken too lightly, by both Leffall and himself. With the rash of drive-by shootings and gang violence occurring in our society, Tepper instantly came to Leffall's rescue without thinking that there might be guns in that car, and quick-trigger mind-sets besides.  Therefore, wasn't Tepper daring and risky in protecting Leffall as a last resort? Truly heroic qualities, though Tepper views himself in less mythic proportions.

"I never have a dull moment in my life," he said. "I'm one of the most curious guys in the world. I try to be enthusiastic. I'm a nice guy. I respect everybody." Tepper's father is more than willing to drape the mantle of hero over his son's huge shoulders.   "Personally, I think Mike saved a life that night," said Gus Tepper. "Had he not been there, who knows what those scumbags would have done to that girl. I think he deserves a medal. I am proud of his behavior. He is a great kid and an outstanding citizen. I constantly remind him of that."


Oakland Tribune: Cal's roster rounding into shape

After scrimmage, Tedford praises QB Ayoob, has better picture of his depth chart

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER

BERKELEYThe rain clouds refused to let up Saturday at Memorial Stadium, but Cal's football picture suddenly became clearer.   The skies opened up on a Bears scrimmage, dampening the turf but failing to prevent a rash of individual highlights, and a more definitive sense of which players will be starters by autumn.  Lavelle Hawkins and Justin Forsett scored on 90-yard kickoff returns, and DeSean Jackson on a 64-yard punt runback. Steve Levy hit Hawkins for a 56-yard touchdown. Nate Longshore found Jackson for 45 yards. And Joe Ayoob and Noah Smith teamed up on 41- and 27-yard completions, the latter a touchdown.  Afterward, coach Jeff Tedford praised Ayoob for playing his way back into the quarterback picture after being demoted before the 2005 Big Game.

"They all have their moments," Tedford said of quarterbacks Longshore, Ayoob, Levy and Kyle Reed. "I think Joe has played extremely well. You can tell that his experience from last season is carrying over. He's throwing the ball a lot sharper."  Tedford added that freshman redshirt Reed's inexperience is hampering him, and by next Saturday's end of spring practice, Tedford will align his 1-through-4 quarterback rotation heading into fall camp.  Cal's new spread attack, which could be 25 percent of Cal's offense, favors a mobile quarterback. Longshore is the least mobile of the four candidates, compounded by his broken leg last season. Tedford said by fall camp Longshore will be healthier and thus quicker.

Tedford then laid out the rest of his offense: running back Marshawn Lynch, fullback Byron Storer, tight end Craig Stevens, tackles Scott Smith and Mike Tepper (who sat out Saturday with a slight concussion), guards Erik Robertson and Noris Malele, center Alex Mack, and wide receivers Jackson and Robert Jordan.  Sophomore Will Ta'ufo'ou is pushing Storer, a senior, and when Cal utilizes four wideouts, Hawkins and David Gray will join Jackson and Jordan.  Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory will have a bigger problem picking a starting lineup, because he has more options. Thus, more people will play.  At the ends, Gregory named Nu'u Tafisi, Abu Ma'afala, Fahim Abd Allah, Cody Jones and Tad Smith. Philip Mbakogu is rehabilitating this spring. At the tackles, there are Brandon Mebane, Matt Malele,  Mika Kane and Tyson Alualu.

Cal's strongest position, offense or defense, is linebacker. Desmond and Greg Van Hoesen share the middle spot, with Worrell Williams and Zack Follett at one outside position and springtime surprise Justin Moye at the other outside spot. He's backed by Mickey Pimentel, who's also rehabbing this spring. Anthony Felder also figures on the outside. Seniors Tim Mixon and Daymeion Hughes return at cornerback, supported by Syd'Quan Thompson and Randy Bundy. Thomas DeCoud and Bernard Hicks are the free safeties, with Brandon Hampton and Robert Peele at the strong safety, or rover, position. "Depth helps the competition, everybody gets better, all that," Gregory said. "Our best defense was two years ago. If we can be at that level, that would be awesome. And this year's defense is a little deeper than '04." Kicker Tom Schneider returns, and the punter should be Andrew Larson, who transfers in from Saddleback Community College (Mission Viejo) in the fall.


Contra Costa Times: Ayoob makes his case

Quarterback looks sharp in scrimmage, possibly earning him snaps in summer camp

Cal football notes

BERKELEY -- After a year in which he completed just 49.2 percent of his passes and threw 14 interceptions, Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob easily could have either transferred or simply faded into the woodwork. Instead, the guy making the plays during Saturday's scrimmage at Memorial Stadium was none other than -- Ayoob.

"What can I lose by going out and doing the best I can?" Ayoob said after his sharp practice effort on a wet, cold day.   Ayoob, who will be a senior next season, is making it tough on coach Jeff Tedford, who is trying to somewhat sort out the quarterback competition in spring camp. Tedford said he hopes to identify the top two prospects anyway, because he won't be able to give four quarterbacks equal snaps once summer camp begins. Tedford said that sophomore Nate Longshore will continue to take first team snaps in the final four practices of spring ball. But Ayoob's improvement definitely has caught his eye.

"Joe has played extremely well," Tedford said. "His experience has helped him and he is throwing the ball sharper." Of the four quarterbacks vying for the job, Longshore, Ayoob and Steve Levy all have produced some solid moments during the spring. Red-shirt freshman Kyle Reed has displayed his excellent athletic skills; however, he has the most work to do. "Kyle is further away because of his lack of experience and his knowledge of the offense," Tedford said. However, even if Ayoob does edge in front of Longshore going into summer camp, Tedford said, it won't mean much in terms of selecting a quarterback to face host Tennessee in the season opener on Sept. 2. Tedford said the guy with the hot hand during summer camp will win the job. Longshore, coming off a rehabilitation following his broken leg against Sacramento State in last season's opener, could well regain his timing that has been somewhat off during the spring. "Working through the summer," Tedford said, "he is going to get his footwork back."

Ayoob's footwork has looked solid during the spring and part of that has to do with Cal implementing some spread offense philosophies under new coordinator Mike Dunbar. Ayoob took snaps out of the shotgun formation at City College of San Francisco. "I feel more comfortable in this kind of offense," Ayoob said. "It definitely helps my confidence."

End run

Junior linebacker Worrell Williams had another standout practice, indicating that the 6-foot, 255-pounder is headed toward a big year. "He's got his weight down, he's moving well and he's got a great attitude," Tedford said. ... Tedford said junior place-kicker Tom Schneider had been kicking very well in the spring. Schneider is being pushed by walk-on Jordan Kay. ...Left offensive tackle Mike Tepper missed the scrimmage due to a concussion. Tedford said he should be back at practice on Monday or Wednesday. ... Junior linebacker Justin Moye has made a huge push in the spring. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said the former walk-on is one of the favorites to earn starting time.


Daily Cal: Battle Heating Up Between Bears QBs

Spread Offense Favors Much-Maligned Senior Quarterback for 2006

BY Steven Dunst

The heralded quarterback stepped onto the sun-drenched field with the eager crowd buzzing in anticipation. The opponent may have been Sacramento State, and nobody may have expected a historic performance, but the Cal faithful were on hand to see what the golden boy, Joe Ayoob, would do in his first collegiate throws.   As fate would have it, Ayoob would put together a historic performance that Saturday over six months ago-only it wasn't one to reminisce about with the grandkids years down the line.

Ayoob's 0-for-10 passing line shattered his confidence and made it apparent that the junior-college transfer was not quite ready for the limelight or coach Jeff Tedford's steely glare.  Now deep into spring practices, does he still think about that outing and other poor showings last year that led the Bears to finish as one of the worst passing teams in the conference?  "Not anymore," Ayoob said with a slight chuckle. "It seems like everyone is talking about (last year) but me."

After a tumultuous year, things are different for Ayoob this spring. Instead of feeling the pressure of mammoth expectations and clamoring fans, instead of staring at an entirely new team playing at an entirely new level, he is calm and focused, an experienced quarterback who knows that he may have to beat out three other signal callers to seize the coveted starting role.  "There are no expectations for me right now," said Ayoob, after sitting out the bulk of practice with a high-ankle sprain. "If I didn't even travel with the team nobody would care."  But even if people have written him off as a bust, Ayoob is still competing for the job, which is still up-for-grabs this early on even though sophomore Nate Longshore may seem to have the slight edge.  According to Cal coach Jeff Tedford, the much-maligned quarterback has made great strides since the entire nation witnessed his growing pains.  "The difference is night and day," Tedford said. "Joe is throwing the ball much better. He understands the seriousness of the position. Last year, when he wasn't in the play he would stand in the back talking to people. This year he's focused."  Having hired offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar in the offseason, the Bears will feature more of a spread offense in an attempt to display more athleticism and variety instead of utilizing largely only pro formations like last season.

At City College of San Francisco, Ayoob thrived on the spread offense for three seasons, giving him a solid foundation which has accelerated his learning curve during the spring while the other quarterbacks are entirely new to the quick reads and complex blocking schemes.  "My comfort level is high," Ayoob said. "It's relearning what I've already learned. I ran the spread with a lot of success."  In practice last Saturday, Ayoob looked the sharpest of the four competing quarterbacks.   During the first sequence of the spring scrimmage, he anticipated the blitz coming from the eight-man front and lofted a 63-yard touchdown strike to Noah Smith down the right sideline. Ayoob found pay dirt later in the scrimmage as well, hitting running back Marshawn Lynch for a 30-yard score.   "Joe's highly competitive," Tedford said. "I admire how he's handled himself. He's mentally and physically tough."  Although he has looked strong thus far, the season is still an eternity away. But armed with experienced and renewed focus, and with the unrealistic expectations cast aside, Ayoob has looked more comfortable than ever before under center.

SF Chronicle: 2-man race for starting Cal QB

Ayoob challenging Longshore as front-runner

Bruce Adams, Chronicle Staff Writer

Cal enters the final week of spring football practice today with the anticipated competition for starting quarterback now in full swing.  The Bears began drills March 20 with Nate Longshore penciled in as the starter. He held that edge until Joe Ayoob began mounting a serious challenge. However, coach Jeff Tedford said the four principals -- Longshore, Ayoob, Steve Levy and Kyle Reed -- are all in the mix. Although Tedford diplomatically says it's too close to call, Longshore and Ayoob clearly are emerging as the top two candidates.

"They all have their moments when they're doing well," Tedford said. "Kyle is the furthest away because of his lack of experience and knowledge of the offense."   Last summer, Longshore, then a redshirt freshman, and Ayoob, a junior transfer from City College of San Francisco, fought for the job with Longshore finally getting the nod. But he was lost for the year with a severe ankle injury late in the first half of the season-opening 41-3 win over Sacramento State.

Ayoob took over the job and showed flashes, but grew increasingly ineffective; he finally publicly admitted he was struggling with his confidence after a 35-10 loss to USC in November.  Levy, a junior, emerged from the bottom of the depth chart and led the Bears to a 27-3 win over Stanford in the Big Game and a 35-28 win over BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.  During spring drills, Longshore has continued to show signs that he could become the next in Tedford's long line of great college quarterbacks, who at Cal were Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers.  "He certainly has that type of potential," new offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar said.  Ayoob has been a surprise. He's beginning to show the form that earned him junior college All-America honors at CCSF, where he led the Rams to a national championship as a freshman.  "He's throwing the ball a lot sharper," Tedford said.

Ayoob has been helped by changes in Cal's offense, with Tedford incorporating elements of the spread-option, which Dunbar used at Northwestern in leading the nation's No. 4-ranked offense last season. It is similar to the pure spread Ayoob ran at City College.  "I feel like this offense plays to my skills, being able to be a little more mobile in throwing the ball and running the ball," he said.  Plus, he said, after struggling with the speed of Division I football last season, he might be turning the corner on the transition from junior college ball.  "Things aren't moving as fast as they were at this point last year," Ayoob said. "I just feel a lot more comfortable."  Tedford has a check list of qualities he wants in his quarterbacks: mental and physical toughness, intelligence, competitiveness, athleticism and arm strength.  Reed, who took a redshirt as a freshman last year, is the best passer on the team. Ayoob and Levy have the most game experience. Longshore, though, might come the closest to fulfilling the qualities of Tedford's list.

"Nate throws the ball well and he's got a lot of the other things, such as command of the huddle and understanding the game," Tedford said.  Even when he couldn't play, of all the quarterbacks, Longshore was the one who showed the best mental grasp of the offense. He continued to attend all the meetings, often on crutches, and stayed involved with all the game plans after his brief debut in which he was 8-for-11 for 131 yards, with one TD and one interception.  "Some people have a rocket arm and some people can run real fast," Longshore said. "I'd rather just learn where I can exploit the other team, where they're lacking."  Longshore said his passing has improved because, after his injury, he spent two months throwing off one leg.  "My arm, I feel, is stronger, more accurate," he said. "You learn how to use your torso more and have a better center of gravity."

Longshore is still not fully recovered from the injury, which included a broken left fibula and ligament damage in his ankle.  "It doesn't hurt anymore," he said. "But it feels awkward -- numb in weird places. Sometimes it doesn't feel like my leg. I'm getting used to it and I'm getting back to regular movement."  The quarterbacks are a close group; a bond that grew stronger last year when Ayoob, who threw for 1,707 yards and 15 touchdowns against 14 interceptions, was booed during games, taunted by fans in the tunnel after games, jeered on campus and sharply criticized on the Internet.  "Not a lot of people know what goes into playing quarterback, especially on this team," Longshore said.  In any event, Ayoob said, "I'm over it."

The quarterbacks also cheered for Levy, who threw for 439 yards and four touchdowns, with two interceptions, in relief.  "We all love Steve," Longshore said. "It was sweet watching him do his thing."  The competition is likely to continue when preseason camp opens, possibly right up until the Sept. 2 opener at Tennessee.   Tedford has said that even though he probably will name a starting quarterback at the end of spring practice Saturday, it won't mean much.  "It will just tell you who will take the first reps when we open up" at camp, he said. "It's way too early to say."


Daily Cal: Littlejohn Hired To Be Tedford's Right-Hand Man

Cal football coach Jeff Tedford announced the hiring of R. Todd Littlejohn yesterday as the Bears new secondary coach.  Littlejohn, a native of California, was the defensive backs coach at Buffalo last season and has also served on the staffs of Syracuse, UCLA and San Jose State.  In his two-year stint with the Bruins beginning in 2001, Littlejohn worked with Rick Manning, Matt Ware, Marques Anderson and Ben Emanuel-all of whom have spent time in the NFL.

In 2001, UCLA led the Pac-10 in total defense and pass efficiency defense, and ranked second in scoring defense.   Littlejohn, a 1987 honorable mention All-American as a defensive back for West Texas State, will take over the position vacated by J.D. Williams, who was hired last month to coach defensive backs at Washington.  Williams had been Cal's secondary coach for the past four seasons.


Monday, April 03, 2006

CBS Sportsline: Notebook: Tedford ready to unleash spread offense at Cal

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Jeff Tedford is making points -- points about "mesh points" and "launch points."  Get the point?  No. Your head is already spinning when the California coach commands you to break down into a center's stance. In a flash, one of the nation's best offensive minds is playing nose guard against a helpless sportswriter.  "Now I line up on your snapping arm," Tedford says, "You're snapping and I'm on your hand."  The implication being that Tedford -- the quarterback guru and former CFL quarterback -- could blow past you into the offensive backfield, which right now is represented by a nice leather chair in his office.  Yes, Jeff Tedford is serious about installing the spread offense.  You would assume that Cal's fifth-year coach, who has developed six first-round NFL quarterbacks, was well-versed in the spread. True, if you consider his six years as a pro quarterback in Canada.  "In the CFL, that's all we did," he said.  Not so true as a college coach. Almost everyone is using the spread, or at least elements of it. That's nothing new. Tedford not being part of the trend is the surprise.  He never has been a shotgun guy in college. Too risky, Tedford said. Who could argue? Tedford's offenses have always been productive.

Productive is good, lethal is better. Tedford moved quickly in the offseason, hiring Northwestern's Mike Dunbar as his offensive coordinator. Dunbar is fresh from running the second offense in Big Ten history to average 500 yards per game for a season.  "This is all totally new to all of them," said Dunbar, who arrived here after five years in Evanston.  Combining Tedford with Dunbar is like throwing gasoline onto a fire. Dunbar's offense was one of the sole reasons Northwestern had been competitive recently. His scheme is more of a basketball-on-grass philosophy, run by quarterback Brett Basanez.  "I used to kid him he's like the point guard of a basketball team," Dunbar said. "He can control tempo."  The offense won't change that radically at Cal, a school used to radicals wanting change. But the teaching begins right now. Tedford has to find out which of his quarterbacks can run.  First, he has to find a quarterback. Nate Longshore is listed as the starter. Longshore broke his leg early last season and was lost for the rest of 2005. Junior Steve Levy is the backup. Juco transfer Joseph Ayoob took over after Longshore was injured but lost the job to Levy because of ineffectiveness.

Elsewhere, the centers have to be taught a completely different snap. Grounders won't be tolerated. There are different blocking angles.  We're talking empty backfields, which should make tailback Marshawn Lynch more dangerous. Expect to see him split wide.  Somewhere in there are Tedford's magic mesh points and launch points.  You know why this is happening, don't you? The Rose Bowl. The nation watched Vince Young run one of the most lethal spread offenses in college history.  Tedford and others in the Pac-10 have had to react to Southern California. While the Trojans figure to be slightly diminished this year, they're still a top 10 team. Meanwhile, Cal has averaged slightly more than eight victories in Tedford's four seasons.  Until Texas did it in the Rose Bowl, Tedford's Bears were the last team to beat USC. But they've never gotten over that BCS hump.  "Everybody is strong, but we have as much potential as anyone to compete in this conference," Tedford said. "I thought SC had a leg up on everybody last year because they had a championship team and everybody coming back.  "We had to make a change."  Staff members left last week for visits to West Virginia and Florida. Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez and Gators coach Urban Meyer are noted veteran spread practitioners.  The idea is to find a system that produces balance. Think of Texas last year, with Young holding the trigger of the shotgun. The Longhorns averaged 237 yards passing and 275 rushing. They were one of only 11 teams to average 200 yards per game in both categories.  It's noon after the last practice before spring break. Tedford is notified by his blocking dummy/sportswriter that players could be seen practicing snaps and blocking schemes on the Memorial Stadium turf.  "Oh, they're getting extra work in because they practiced at 6:30 this morning. Now they're on spring break," he said. "They're very eager to get it all figured out."