The in-house word last season was that Cal was missing Desmond Bishop and Marshawn Lynch, guys who were vocal enough to gain their teammates' attention throughout the practice week and athletic enough to demand it for Saturday game days. Though injuries stood in the way of the development of some of the sexier stories during spring, the leadership problem, which was mostly blamed for the fall from No. 2 in the nation to a 7-6 record, might have been answered. Before Saturday's practice, the Bears swarmed around defensive end Rulon Davis, who emphatically notified them that this was their final day to improve. After practice, Davis again moved front-and-center, screaming at a decibel level that should act as a reminder throughout the summer. "I'm really happy with the team chemistry, the ways we're working together and the attitude, focus and camaraderie of the team," coach Jeff Tedford said. "If the spring is any indication, the togetherness and the camaraderie will carry on over the summer. They'll all invest the time to be ready to go in August."
Davis is a 6-foot-5, 275-pounder who served in the Marines for three years and survived a motorcycle crash. Through an injury-plagued two seasons in Berkeley, Davis has shown flashes of brilliance, like Saturday when he had three tackles for losses and a sack in about 20 snaps. "I think he's stood out this spring," defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. "He's really taken charge and tried to get the guys going, and he plays with a lot of energy." While lack of player leadership might have been last year's biggest problem, little on-field issues were solved during the spring. Incumbent Nate Longshore's pectoral injury stopped the headline-grabbing quarterback battle with Kevin Riley, the three receivers who will move on to NFL rosters next season have yet to be replaced as injuries plagued the possible fill-ins and the defense is amid a major overhaul.
"Of course, at some time, it's frustrating because some guys get hurt and other guys take more of the load and they end up with injuries," Tedford said. Tedford, however, appeared confident about each of the questions, and offered one final answer, projecting that lightning-in-a-bottle tailback Jahvid Best will be fully recovered from his hip injury by training camp. Tedford also said Michael Calvin and Nyan Boateng made noticeable strides at receiver, and he's in no hurry to name a starting quarterback. "We're going to go through the summer and fall camp and see how it shakes down," Tedford said. "We're in good shape because we have two very good quarterbacks and a young guy, who has a lot of ability as well."
As for the defense, it appears as though the Bears have shifted to a 3-4 base after struggling to stop the run and get quarterback pressure last season. Gregory maintains that the 3-4 has always been part of the package, but the team did little to nothing from a 4-3 set during the spring. "The guys did a nice job of absorbing all the new stuff," Gregory said. "The 3-4 gives us much more flexibility in what we can do, and it helps in recruiting because those guys who look like Rulon are hard to find."