Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Daily Cal: Bears Without Three Key Starters in Tuesday's Practice

BY Gerald Nicdao

The health of the defensive side of the football looked bleak for the No. 6 Cal football team after its victory over Louisiana Tech. Defensive end Rulon Davis, defensive tackle Matt Malele and linebacker Zack Follett all left Saturday’s contest early with injuries. Davis and Malele’s injuries were thought to be more serious than Follett’s, who left the game with a neck stinger.  Bears coach Jeff Tedford said Tuesday that Davis has a strained left foot and that Malele strained a muscle on the bottom of his foot. Both are day-to-day and their status for this Saturday’s Pac-10 opener against Arizona is uncertain.  “The thing with Matt is that he’s kind of our field general,” said defensive tackle Mika Kane, who is recovering from a concussion and is expected to play Saturday against the Wildcats. “He really settles us down and he knows the plays for every guy on the field. If you’re lost, or you don’t know the plays, he’s right there for you.”  It was feared that Davis had a foot stress fracture and that Malele had torn his plantar fascia, but tests Monday confirmed that neither was the case.  Follett is also said to be day-to-day and did not practice Tuesday.  Heisman hopeful DeSean Jackson has been practicing with a cast on his left hand to protect a sprained thumb he suffered against Tennessee.

After an uncommonly unproductive game against the Bulldogs—Jackson had five catches for just 28 yards and had -6 punt return yards—Tedford said that Jackson may not be catching any balls in practice this week.  “We need to let that thing settle down a little bit and not irritate it,” Tedford said. “As long as he runs his routes and gets down his timing … then it’s not a big deal in practice right now.”  The extent of how much Jackson is bothered by his thumb was made more apparent after last Saturday.  Jackson dropped several passes, including one on a fly pattern where Jackson had split the corner and the safety and had nothing but green turf between him and the end zone.  “I think it’s been real frustrating for him,” Tedford said. “DeSean is not a body catcher. DeSean relies on his hands. He’s very natural catching the ball with his hands. He doesn’t like catching the ball with his body.”  This week’s matchup with the Wildcats gives Cal a chance for another redemption win.  Last year, the Bears lost 24-20 in Tucson, Ariz.,—a game that may have cost Cal a trip to the Rose Bowl.  The Bears had the inside track for an outright Pac-10 championship after USC’s loss to Oregon State two weeks earlier, giving Cal a one-game advantage over the Trojans a week before their matchup in Los Angeles.

“Last year it really held more gravity than we thought at the time, with USC losing and us having all those Rose Bowl implications,” guard Brian De La Puente said.  Tedford took the time to remind his team Sunday about all the mistakes the they committed in the desert heat last year.  “We did some things in that game to kind of beat ourselves a little bit,” Tedford said. “We have to make sure that we don’t allow ourselves to do that, be it penalties, we had a touchdown called back with (an offensive) pass interference in the end zone, we threw an interception for a touchdown.”  

The two-day hearing that may decide the fate of the Student-Athlete High Performance Center is set to begin today in Hayward.  The center is planned to be the first phase of a redevelopment project in the Southeast corner of campus that includes improvements to the Memorial Stadium site.  But of course, Tedford said that he is not worried about what happens in the courtroom today and tomorrow.  “I’m worried about third down right now,” Tedford said. “I’m going to go watch third down (film) as soon as we get done here and red zone (film) tomorrow. Whatever happens, happens. That’s not going to make a difference one way or another on how we prepare or how we play. Hopefully it goes great, but I have no control over that.”  The suit, which pits the campus against the Panoramic Hill Association, the California Oak Foundation and the city of Berkeley, was filed in December 2006.


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