Monday, March 30, 2009

SF Chronicle: Sandy Barbour Discusses Memorial Stadium Schedule

(Thanks to Richard B. for the heads up on this article).


Here’s the link.


Q: Under Tedford, the football team has become a Pac-10 contender. But it has beaten USC only once and has yet to play in the Rose Bowl. What else needs to happen for the team to get to a BCS bowl?

A: What Jeff has done has been amazing. The transformation of our football program under his leadership has been absolutely phenomenal. And then to realize he's done it with not just substandard facilities but sub-sub-sub-standard facilities. I think the facility is the next piece to be able to attract the very best. That's the piece that helps us help Jeff mold us to the next level.

Q: Are you confident that when the project is done that you'll be in the hunt for a BCS bowl berth?

A: Absolutely. I think we're in the hunt for a BCS bowl in the short run. But I don't believe Jeff could sustain that without the necessary facilities. He's been able to do what he's done because of the promise of that. ... I never had any doubt it would happen. I just wondered what kind of damage would be done along the way in terms of how long it would take. Would Jeff get frustrated and leave? I never really felt that would happen because he kept telling me, "I'm committed." But if it had gone on another two years, that would have been difficult.

Q: When will Memorial Stadium be under construction, and how long will it take?

A: The plan is to dovetail the end of the high-performance center with the beginning of the west-side renovations, then the east side, so we're looking (at starting the stadium work) around 2011. The original plan was to not be out of the stadium at all because that's very disruptive to the program. Part of what we're looking at, because of the delay, is being out one season because we could get so much more done during that period. It would be 20 months. We could start construction on the west side of the stadium at the conclusion of the 2010 season and work through August of 2012. We would continue to work in nine-month segments between seasons (on the east side).

Q: During that 2011 season, where will the football team play?

A: Right now we don't know. We've talked to the Oakland Coliseum, Candlestick and AT&T. They've all got issues, with the Coliseum's being two permanent tenants that we would have to coexist with. Candlestick geographically is the least attractive, and AT&T is pretty small and it's a baseball facility.

Q: The football team is scheduled to play Ohio State in 2012 and 2013. But why is Eastern Washington on the football schedule in 2009 and UC Davis in 2010? Couldn't Cal find nationally prominent opponents to keep the season ticket holders happy?

A: There's a combination in keeping the season ticket holders happy and putting together a reasonable schedule that relates to the ebb and flow of a season. Jeff and I are looking to balance out three nonconference games and not have that be three national contenders. Part of it is we got dropped by some (schools) late (in 2009 and '10), and you don't have a lot of choices. We've been talking to Davis about playing for a number of years. To be honest, we pay a guarantee; why not keep that money in the state of California and help out a fellow UC system school? That's what that was about, as well as, they're going to bring some folks.

Friday, March 20, 2009

San Francisco Chronicle: Raiders Coach Checks Out Alex Mack

Raiders coach Tom Cable showed up at Cal's Pro Day to check out center Alex Mack for himself Wednesday. Mack is expected to go late in the first round, but Cable wouldn't rule him out as an option at the Raiders' No. 7 overall pick.  Asked if that's too high a spot for a center, Cable said, "Not if you need one, that's the bottom line."

Link to entire story.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Contra Costa Times: Sixth season is no fantasy for Tepper

By Jonathan Okanes

On the two days in January he knew the NCAA would be handing down the decision that would set the course for his future, Cal left tackle Mike Tepper tapped into the most powerful resources at his disposal. Like Mickey Mouse, for instance.

"I went to Disneyland because it's the happiest place on earth," Tepper said. "I owe it all to Disney."  Mickey and the gang came through for Tepper, who received the news that he was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. That means Tepper, who missed last season and the 2005 season because of injuries, is back out on the Memorial Stadium field this spring. "It feels amazing," Tepper said. "I'm happy to be out here. I'm really happy about this opportunity I have, coming back for another year." Tepper was waiting in line for the "Finding Nemo" submarine ride when he saw an incoming call on his cell phone from coach Jeff Tedford. Tepper was shaking as he answered.  "I just wanted to call you because I thought that I was the one who needed to tell you this," Tedford told Tepper, building the suspense. "I will see you in the fall."  "I went on the ride and was so pumped," Tepper said. "I was running around Disneyland that whole day smiling."

Link to rest of story.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Daily Cal: Former UC Berkeley Tree-Sitter Injured in West Bank

Former UC Berkeley tree-sitter Tristan Anderson was critically injured Friday while protesting the construction of a separation barrier in Naalin, a town in the West Bank.


San Francisco Chronicle: Quarterback competition begins

By Rusty Simmons


Cal coach Jeff Tedford doesn't anticipate going into training camp with a set No. 1 quarterback, despite declaring open a competition among three candidates as spring practice begins today.  "It's going to be wide open in the spring," Tedford said. "I'm not expecting to have the one guy by the end of spring ball. Because some of the guys are young, you have to let the progression happen and see how they compete in fall camp."  Junior Kevin Riley comes back with the most starts, best numbers and the longest display of guts at quarterback. The "younger guys" are sophomore Brock Mansion, a long, athletic specimen who could become something, and Beau Sweeney, who thrilled at times while running opposing offenses on the scout team last year. Readers who inundated The Chronicle with e-mails and clogged up fan chat rooms over the last year about the Nate Longshore-Kevin Riley quagmire the last two seasons might be able to relax for a moment. Tedford's comments about the current quarterback competition are similar to what he said about every position group during an informal hourlong media conference this week.

He mentioned some form of "competition" 27 times, while neatly avoiding the naming of a starter at a single position. The closest he came was to call three-year starting corner Syd'Quan Thompson "a pretty good lock," and "we have a pretty good punter coming back." Clearly, Thompson is joined by Jahvid Best, who recently jumped out of his wheelchair after offseason surgeries, and will become a starter and a Heisman candidate by September. Freshman All-American punter Bryan Anger and defensive end Tyson Alualu certainly have places reserved. The rest appears up for grabs, and once we forget about the sexy quarterback situation, we'll get down to the rest of the team. The offensive line has seven players with at least one collegiate start to compete for five starting jobs. There are three starting receivers fighting with two injured guys, who might have been the top two last year. And there are three returning safeties for two spots, all of whom are being threatened by a pair of redshirt freshmen. "I think competition is great, but you have to let it surface and you have to create situations to let them compete," Tedford said. "We have to compete in everything we do. We have got to compete in 1-on-1's, we have to compete in drills and we have to compete in our turnover circuits."

Contra Costa Times: Cal football has issues to settle

By Jonathan Okanes


The tree-sitters may be gone, but some things about this spring practice feel very similar to last year at Cal.  First and foremost, coach Jeff Tedford is in search of a quarterback. While the battle between Kevin Riley, Brock Mansion and Beau Sweeney may not be the sexy story line that existed when Riley was competing against Nate Longshore, the bottom line is the Bears desperately need to find more consistent quarterback play next season. Spring practice, which begins today, will be the first step in resolving that search. The quarterback competition headlines the list of the top five issues facing the Bears this spring.

1. A job for the taking: Tedford has stressed that the quarterback competition is wide open. He professed the same message last spring, but the dynamic was much different. Last year, Tedford felt confident that either Longshore or Riley would give the Bears a chance to be successful. That didn't turn out to be the case. There is a sense this spring that the slate has been wiped clean, almost as though the Bears are starting over at the position. Although Riley started nine games last year, he threw for just 123.6 yards per game. He lost his starting job to Longshore for the season-ending Emerald Bowl.  Mansion threw six passes as a redshirt freshman last season and has yet to take a meaningful college snap. Sweeney was the scout team quarterback last year. Tedford has gushed about each's development and grasp of the offense. Still, all Riley has to do is show some incremental improvement and it would seem he would set himself up to be the front-runner for the job in the fall.

2. Lining up the linebackers: With Zack Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder moving on, the Bears not only lost a wealth of experience and talent, but the heart and soul of the team. The trio was a huge reason for Cal's vastly improved defense in the new 3-4 alignment, and replacing them will be paramount.  The good news for the Bears is that they have several talented, albeit inexperienced, linebackers waiting for a chance. Mike Mohamed, who didn't start last season but ended up playing more than anyone, should anchor the unit. Eddie Young returns on the outside as well. After that, Devin Bishop, Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt will be vying for playing time.

3. Catch the ball: The Bears' passing attack ranked just 83rd nationally last season, and there were a variety of reasons why. What's indisputable is their wide receivers have to get better. Nyan Boateng, whose status for the spring is unclear because of a groin injury, led Cal wide receivers with just 29 catches. Three of the Bears' top five pass-catchers were not wide receivers. This shouldn't be a total surprise. All of the receivers who saw significant playing time were playing their first full season of Division I football. What remains to be seen is what will change now that they have a year in the rear view mirror. Boateng, Jeremy Ross and Verran Tucker all flashed potential, and spring practice will be vital to their path of improvement. But the spring also will give the coaching staff a better look at younger receivers such as Marvin Jones, Alex Lagemann and Charles Satchell.

4. No more Mack attack: New offensive line coach Steve Marshall won't have the luxury of building his line around All-America center Alex Mack, who is off to the NFL. But there still is depth along the line of scrimmage. The issue will be sorting out all the pieces. Chris Guarnero, who started at guard last season before suffering a season-ending toe injury, is a more natural center and is the leading candidate to replace Mack. The Bears appear to be set at tackle with returning starters Mitchell Schwartz and Mike Tepper (who was granted a sixth year of eligibility). The most competition this spring will be at guard, with Mark Boskovich, Justin Cheadle, Matt Summers-Gavin and Donovan Edwards possibly all making a push.

5. Who has a big foot?: The kicking game was a problem last season, especially on kickoffs. Walk-on Giorgio Tavecchio was serviceable, but the coaches still want to get a good look at David Seawright, who was bothered by a groin injury. Whoever wins the job out of spring will have to contend with incoming freshman Vince D'Amato in the fall.


Contra Costa Times: Cal quarterbacks to square off in practice

By Jonathan Okanes


Cal opened spring practice Saturday, but the much-anticipated quarterback competition won't begin in earnest until today. Incumbent Kevin Riley missed the first day to be a groomsman in his brother's wedding. Coach Jeff Tedford said Riley will be at practice today. That left the majority of reps to Riley's challengers — Brock Mansion and Beau Sweeney — along with walk-on Ryan Werternberger. Mansion and Sweeney both experienced highs and lows on the first day, something Tedford fully expected. "We could be sharper," Tedford said. "They've been working hard. They've been throwing the ball all through the winter conditioning. They've worked hard to this point." Riley started nine games last season but was inconsistent, throwing for just 123.6 yards per game. He twice lost his starting job to Nate Longshore, including for the season-ending Emerald Bowl.  Despite the fact that Riley is the only quarterback on the roster who has taken a meaningful college snap, Tedford has declared the quarterback position wide-open. Both Mansion and Sweeney came to Cal as highly recruited players, and Tedford is excited to see their progress. Mansion was the third-string quarterback last season and threw six passes, all in garbage time. Sweeney was the scout team quarterback. Tedford said all three quarterbacks will get equal reps through the spring.

"I'm pretty excited," Mansion said. "This is a good opportunity for me. If I can just be consistent and show the coaches that I can move the offense up and down the field, I think I can play on Saturdays. I'm pretty pumped about that."  When Tedford declared the quarterback spot open last year, he mentioned Mansion along with Riley and Longshore. But he admitted Mansion probably wasn't a serious candidate because of his inexperience.  Tedford isn't letting Sweeney's inexperience get in the way this year. Although Sweeney spent last season running the opposing team's offenses, he said he paid attention to what his own team's offense was doing as well. Tedford admitted Sweeney's inexperience puts him at the bottom of the pack right now. But he also said that doesn't mean Sweeney will stay there. "Of course, it will put him a little behind on Day 1, but he has all the tools to close that gap very quickly," Tedford said. "Beau is very intelligent. He's a student of the game. He's going to make mistakes, but we feel like he had what it takes to be in the mix." 

Notes: Running back Jahvid Best, who underwent surgery on his foot and elbow last month, attended practice but only stretched with the team and rode an exercise bike on the sideline. Best said his elbow is completely healed and hopes his foot is ready to go by the end of spring practice. Tedford has declared Best out of spring practice, but Best said he's already lobbying for a late return.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Oregonian: Bellotti steps down as Ducks football coach, clearing the way for Kelly

Mike Bellotti, the winningest football coach in University of Oregon history, will hand the team to top assistant Chip Kelly this month and become the school's athletic director July 1.  The succession plan was first announced Dec. 2, but did not have a timetable until Friday, the same day the university introduced its new president.


Daily Cal: Tedford Talks Coordinators

By Andrew Kim

Here’s the link, where you can view reader comments.

Here’s a quick gem from Tuesday’s football press conference.  We were asking coach Jeff Tedford about his hiring Andy Ludwig, and I think in some ways Tedford answered a few of his critics with the following respnse. To quote:

“I don’t think it would be wise to bring someone in here with such a wealth of knowledge and then to put a stranglehold on him,” Tedford said. “I think it’s important to give people the ability to share their ideas and see how it fits us.” 

Cal fans had to be wondering why the Bears program seems to lose offensive coordinators nearly every year. Well, judging from the quote, maybe it’s not because Tedford forces them to throw out any bit of their own philosophy that doesn’t match Tedford’s.  I mean, the quote came from Tedford himself, and nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors, so by no means the above quote is 100 percent proof that past coordinators didn’t leave due to having another certain QB guru looming over their work. It’s possible, but at least according to Tedford’s account, he doesn’t believe working that way. At least now.

SF Examiner: Cal QB Riley must prove his worth all over again

By Glenn Dickey

Spring football is a time for learning, and for Cal, that begins at the quarterback position as practices start Saturday.  Kevin Riley played erratically in the second half of last season.

“He played because he made good decisions and didn’t turn the ball over, and he had an escape mechanism so he could make plays with his feet,”  coach Jeff Tedford said in a one-on-one interview in his office, “but he had accuracy problems. His mechanics were off, but it’s really hard to work on that during the season because the player is uncomfortable changing anything.” Tedford played Nate Longshore in the Emerald Bowl — “Nate had had a sore shoulder which was healed, and he had a much better practice week” — but he hasn’t given up on Riley. Just as he did with Kyle Boller, Tedford has given tips for Riley to work on.

Read the rest of the article here.

Daily Cal: Spring Practice Preview of Defense


By Andrew Kim

A Pac-10 team not named USC being led by its defense?  Unheard of.  Only in Berkeley.  In 2008, the Cal football team rode its defense to a 9-4 record -- the Bears picked off 24 passes, their best since 1953, and boasted the nation's second-best red-zone defense (66 percent), allowing just 19 touchdowns in 41 opponents' trips.  Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory labeled his unit the best he had fielded since 2004, when Cal was infamously snubbed of a Rose Bowl bid. Here's a quick look at the returning defense as well as special teams.


Potential NFL draftee Anthony Felder said during the season, to paraphrase, that once a group of seniors leave, the team's operations move on the following year as if they were never there. That might be a little harder to do this year, given Felder, Zack Follett and Worrell Williams are all NFL-level talents. But you can't really blame coach Jeff Tedford for trying. "I feel really good about that spot," he said. "I think we have some guys again with experience." It might take Bears fans a couple games to feel really good about the overall unit. A few returning players, though, have shown promise. For starters, there's Mike Mohamed, who's been showing promise for over two years but had to sit behind the aforementioned trio. The sophomore, somewhat of a Justin Forsett in that regard, needs no introduction. He was "pretty much a starter," said Tedford. You can allow Eddie Young, who started the games Mohamed didn't, the distinction as well. Freshman Mychal Kendricks, meanwhile, is a bit of an unknown. He played mostly on special teams in 2008 while subbing in and out of linebacker duty sparingly. So what's to be expected of this kid? Williams offered an explanation in his parting words to the Bears program. "I think he can be the best linebacker to ever come out of Cal," Williams said. Whoa there.

Williams went on to compare Kendricks' build to his own, saying that the freshman even has the athleticism to play offense. A thinner Williams with running-back speed? That could work for the Bears. "He can be a force, no doubt about it," Tedford added. "He can run, and he plays with great leverage. He hustles, he's tough, and he is very athletic. There is no doubt that he is going to be a better player this year, and things are going to smooth out for him a little bit." Add DJ Holt and Devin Bishop, both of whom Tedford tabbed to play inside, to the mix, and it's clear that Cal didn't lose absolutely everything in its linebacking corps. Just 244 tackles. "I feel like we're doing well there," Tedford said. "Devin Bishop played, so you take him, Holt, Mike and all these guys and add to them the JC guys in the fall, who have a lot of ability as well." The Bears will also be joined by JP Hurrell, who sat out a year after shoulder surgery. Hurrell was a consensus three-star prep prospect.


It could be a breakout year for the Cal linemen. Unless they've already broken out. Junior Tyson Alualu was already a proven commodity by the start of 2008, and by the end of it, he was a second-team All-Pac-10 defensive end. And sophomore Cameron Jordan, merely a self-proclaimed pass-rush specialist in 2007, added bulk to both his frame and on-field antics in becoming a more complete player. A freak of nature that can run a 4.8 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4 and 287 pounds, Jordan is as good as it gets at the 3-4 weakside end. "Those two guys are a force at defensive ends," Tedford said. Redshirt freshman Ernest Owusu -- whom teammates compare to a younger Rulon Davis -- and sophomore Keith Browner will add depth to the position, joined by freshman Trevor Guyton and redshirt Aaron Tipoti. "Owusu is there to help create some depth, so it'd be nice to see him compete," Tedford said. "Browner made a bit of a stride last year, so it would be great to see him continue to go in that direction. Trevor Guyton and Aaron Tipoti are two young guys that we feel really good about. Trevor obviously got some time last year, so that will help." While Cal is mostly set at the two defensive end spots, the Bears might elect for a two-man committee at nose tackle. Redshirt sophomore Derrick Hill likely won't vacant his starting gig anytime soon, but Kendrick Payne figures to be a little more than just a reserve and has a chance to prove himself while Hill -- who recently had his knee scoped out -- sits out spring practice. "Kendrick Payne is back in the mix now, which is nice because he really showed a lot of promise early in the year," Tedford said. "But then there's gonna be some competition after that -- (Michael) Costanzo, (Kevin) Bemoll, some of those guys at the nose. Right now the first two noses would be Hill and Kendrick Payne."


Minus Bernard Hicks, the usual suspects will be back in the Cal secondary. That includes starters Syd'Quan Thompson, Darian Hagan, Marcus Ezeff, Brett Johnson and Sean Cattouse, as well as nickle back Chris Conte and a versatile -- or unsettled, whichever way you look at it -- Bryant Nnabuife. It's a loaded group, to say the least. Yet in 2009, they will add redshirts Marc Anthony and Josh Hill to the mix. Both will push Hagan and Conte for their jobs, while Thompson is somewhat untouchable, according to Tedford. "The young corners should be in the mix," Tedford said. "Marc Anthony and Josh Hill, those guys are really good players, and now they're going to get a chance to compete. It's going to give us some flexibility to move some guys to safety from time to time." Tedford described the unit as the team's deepest.


Goodbye Nick Sunderg. Hello Matt Rios. For the first time since 2005, someone other than Sundberg will snap for punts. Tedford said he's had an succession plan since before Sundberg even played in his final season. "Rios is one of the guys that goes kind of unnoticed," Tedford said. "We went out and scholarshipped him a year ago to have him ready for the time when Sundberg left. So he'll take that job over." The guy catching Rios' snaps, though, made quite the impression in just a season in Berkeley, where punter Bryan Anger is nearly a household name. "We have a pretty good punter coming back," Tedford dryly agreed. Much of the suspense, Tedford suggested, will lie in determining the kicker. Walk-on Georgio Tavecchio has been working out rigorously throughout the offseason, and freshman David Seawright will have a second shot at the gig after an injury-plagued season in 2008.

And to make things even more interesting, there's the new guy -- Vince D'Amato -- who might have the liveliest leg of them all, at least according to his high school tapes. "We have to let Seawright get healthy," Tedford said. "Seawright's got some small muscle in (his groin) that he's torn, and he wasn't kicking up to his potential (in 2008). We have to see how he grows here. "And I think Georgio's gonna be better after a year. Shoot, he got thrown right into the fire (last year). He's gonna be stronger, he's working really hard, training really hard. I think his confidence is gonna be up, so he has the potential to do some things. "And we have the new guy, Vince. He's got a big leg. That will be a very competitive spot."


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Daily Cal: Spring Practice Preview: Offense

By Andrew Kim


Here we go again.  With the Cal football team slated to open spring practices on Friday, coach Jeff Tedford described each position battle as "competitive," with only a handful of slots relatively set in stone.  Chalk it up as Tedford talk, if you will. But there are surely the seasonal share of uncertainties as Cal preps for a run in 2009.


Sophomore Kevin Riley should be the favorite to win the starting job by the time fall camp rolls around.  But Tedford sure is making sure that Riley will earn that distinction, while maintaining that he will give Brock Mansion and Beau Sweeney a chance to compete as well as develop with the type of attention second- and third-string quarterbacks may not typically receive.  "I'm real excited to see the young guys, Brock and Beau, have a chance to do their thing," Tedford said. "I feel they have a lot of tools. They're competitive, they're smart, they're talented and they can run." Tedford added that the competition will be "wide-open" at the position, and that he's not "counting on" one player to emerge as the clear-cut starter for the 2009 season by the end of April. 

"Especially because those two guys are young, you have to let the progression happen, that they go through another cycle of summer and through fall camp, and then see how they compete in fall camp," Tedford said.

All three quarterbacks will receive at least a portion of first-team reps, according to Tedford, though the bulk of them should unmistakably fall on Riley and Mansion.  Tedford, though, had plenty of good things to say about Sweeney, who hasn't quite had the opportunity to receive Tedford's direct tutelage due to his time with the scout team.  "Now he has to step it up a little more," Tedford said of Sweeney. "He's a very intelligent guy, and through his time here in camp, when he was running our offense, he made very few mistakes and showed the ability to grasp a lot of things. I have no question that he's a good learner, and we'll be fine with that."


In 2008, injuries made it even more difficult to evaluate a unit that returned nearly zero playing time.  The case may be similar for 2009.  Junior Nyan Boateng, who racked up 439 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2008, has been sidelined with a groin injury -- osteitis pubis, to be medically precise.  "He's been doing more lately," Tedford said of Boateng. "But ... some of the side-to-side movement bothers him. We'll just have to see how he does." Meanwhile, wideouts returning from injury -- freshman Marvin Jones and redshirt freshman Michael Calvin, who will sit out this spring while recovering from surgery -- find themselves in depth-chart purgatory.  Tedford said that Calvin looked to have the potential to be the team's top wideout prior to his injury, while "it's nice" to have Jones return and compete. The recurring theme, though, is that it's a new year. And there are certainly no promises. "I see it being a rotation right now, unless some people can really separate themselves," Tedford said. That includes former junior transfer Verran Tucker, who quickly emerged as one of Cal's top options by the end of last season.

Tucker was forced to learn the system on the fly, having been a late addition at the onset of fall camp in 2008, but the wideout has proved himself a serviceable option to say the least, catching 21 balls for 364 yards and three touchdowns.  "I think early on when he was here, he was a little discouraged because he wasn't here for summer, he had just gotten here for camp, he had to learn the whole offense and he wasn't in very good shape when he got here," Tedford said. "So I think in the beginning, he was like, 'I just want to redshirt.' But we told him 'No, you're not gonna redshirt, you're gonna continue to compete,' because it was a long season last year and we had some byes in the beginning of the year there.  "But once he learned the terminology and the offense, then he could compete. I think then he started feeling better about himself and his contribution to the team."  Tedford also added that it might be assumed that Tucker, Boateng and Jeremy Ross will continue carrying the torch in 2009, but at this point in time, the thought remains an assumption.


Call it a tease.  In 2008, the Bears showcased two stud tailbacks in preseason Heisman candidate Jahvid Best and the versatile Shane Vereen.  This spring, both will be limited-Best is out of the wheelchair but still recovering from foot surgery, while Vereen has been training with the Cal track team.  "Jahvid won't play obvisouly in the spring time, and Shane will be limited," Tedford said. "We're not gonna beat up Shane completely."  Tedford said that he was fine with Vereen running track, as long as he doesn't overextend himself.  "I think his flat-out speed, track may help him," Tedford continued. "But football is more about change of direction and quick movements, and I wouldn't let somebody do track specifically and not do football, especially with (running backs). It's so much stop and start.  "So he's in our circuit training where there's a lot of change of direction that we implement in our conditioning program." In the meantime, freshman Covaughn DeBoskie may get a growing share of reps, especially considering that redshirt sophomore Tracy Slocum has been released from the team.


The Bears will enter 2009 with "10 guys that all have ability."  The question for the coaching staff, then, will be to determine their eight-deep, a typical number of offensive linemen that will get regular playing time throughout the course of a season.  "I like the group because even though we lost a couple guys, we still have a lot of experience," Tedford said. "Last year's injury really forced us to create some depth."  Alex Mack and Noris Malele, both three-year starters, are gone. But a lot more return, perhaps players that may have not seen the field as much without all the injuries Cal suffered last season.  "Now the key is, how do we find the top eight guys, the flexiblity of moving guys around," Tedford said. "But it's a good group. I'm looking forard to seeing them gel." Tedford said redshirt Dominic Galas will be familiar with the unit's terminology and such by the virtue of having practiced with the offense, not the scout team, in 2008. Justin Cheadle and Chet Teofilo are also guys that may not necessarily start in 2009, but will provide important depth regardless.  Mike Tepper, who was recently granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, will show at left tackle, while freshman Mitchell Schwartz will return to compete at right tackle, perhaps his more natural position, according to Tedford.  "It's nice to get back not only his talent level, but also his experience," Tedford said of Tepper. "He's a returning starter." Chris Guarnero will move to center and compete for a chance to replace Mack. Freshman Donovan Edwards may move inside, according to Tedford, as a "290-pound guy with athleticism."  "He can run, he's bigger," Tedford said of Edwards. "Really, he got thrown into the mix last year before he was ready physically. He competed hard, but he was a little bit light last year ... I think he brings a lot of flexibility to us."

But perhaps the biggest move of the offseason was first-year offensive line coach Steve Marshall's move away from the Cleveland Browns of the NFL to the Cal program.  Tedford said that his offensive linemen may have to learn several new calls implemented by Marshall, whom Tedford described as someone who "brings a wealth of knowledge."  "You talk about how to attack things, he can give you five different ways to do something," Tedford said of Marshall. "With his experience ... he's very knowledgeable, is a good technician and coaches with a lot of energy.  "There may be some new calls up front for these guys to learn, things that coach Marshall may implement for the teaching progression that he's used to."


Cameron Morrah surprised many by opting out of his fourth year of eligibility and entering the 2009 NFL Draft.  Freshmen Anthony Miller and Spencer Ladner could surprise even more with what they end up doing for the Bears in 2009. Miller played in 2008 and will return as a sophomore next season, while Ladner redshirted. Tedford seemed thrilled about both regardless. "Anthony Miller was a guy who got some playing time and was on that end of the field all year, so he's familiar with the offense," Tedford said. "And I'm really excited to see Spencer Ladner step up. He's gained some weight, he's very athletic, catches everything and now it's just growth and development at the line of scrimmage." Miller came around particularly near the end of the last season, and his progress was on clear display as he caught the game-winning touchdown in the Emerald Bowl against Miami. Ladner didn't have a bad end of the season either, being named as one of five Scout Team Players of the Year. "I think Anthony and Spencer both have a lot of potential," Tedford said. The youngsters will likely begin the season backing up junior Tad Smith, who made the switch from defensive end to tight end in 2008 and served as Cal's second option behind Morrah, particularly in running situations.  The Bears have another converted tight end in redshirt Jarrett Sparks, who was recruited as a wide receiver coming out of high school and will add depth to the position alongside junior Skylar Curran in 2009.

"He was getting too big to play receiver, so it was easier for him to put on some weight and play an H-back, tight-end-type of a guy," Tedford said of Sparks. "Kind of a move-guy. I think that's where he'll be more comfortable."


Often the least glorified position in football, the Cal fullbacks will get plenty of attention during the offseason.

There simply isn't a clear-cut starter for 2009.  "That's a big question right there," Tedford said. "It's gonna be an open competition. We have a lot of young guys there." Brian Holley, Eric Stevens, John Tyndall, Matt Russi and Will Kapp are all candidates to replace 2008 standout Will Ta'ufo'ou. Peter Geurts, who's been more or less a reserve tailback thus far, will also see some time auditioning as a fullback, according to Tedford.

Examiner: Tedford previews spring practice - Slocum excused from the team

By Rob Calonge

The big news from the spring practice press luncheon comes from the offensive side of the ball.  Third-string running back Tracy Slocum was released from the team for a violation of team rules.

Head coach Jeff Tedford was frank in his assessments of the team and gave a pretty good primer for Bear Backers to peruse. The news about Slocum came out when he was asked about the running back position.  "The one-two punch is pretty good," Tedford said.  "Jahvid Best obviously won't play in the spring. Shane Vereen will be limited; we don't want to beat him up. Covaughn DeBoskie is a guy who will get a lot of turns in spring ball. We released Tracy Slocum from the team for violating team rules, so he won't be there. So, those two and Peter Guerts will get the time at tailback. Kevin Lewis moved from cornerback to tailback, as well."

Link to rest of article.

Cal's 2009 Spring Football Roster

Here’s the link.  #7 is Quinn Tedford, a wide receiver from Monte Vista in Danville.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rivals: All Eyes on QB Riley at Cal Spring Practice

California won nine games last season, but quarterback issues crept up throughout the season - to the point that regular starter Kevin Riley was benched for the Emerald Bowl against Miami.  Riley appears to have the quarterback job to himself this spring, but he needs to show more consistency. The highest priority for Cal is to find three new starting linebackers for its 3-4 defense.  Here's a look at the Golden Bears as they open spring practice.

Cal boasts the most productive duo of returning running backs in the country. Jahvid Best (1,580 yards) and Shane Vereen (715) combined for 2,295 rushing yards in '08. The Bears also are stacked in the defensive line, with all-league performer Tyson Alualu heading a list of three returning starters up front. The secondary remains intact, and Syd'Quan Thompson is among the best in the nation.


SF Business Times: U.C. Berkeley's budget hole 'unprecedented'

The Blue and Gold’s budget is turning red.  Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, said Tuesday that the school anticipates a budget shortfall between $60 million and $70 million for the fiscal year starting July 1, calling it “an unprecedented number for us.”  A fee increase of up to 9.3 percent for undergraduates will partially mitigate the budget cuts, but cannot make up the entire shortfall.

The state provides about $500 million of Berkeley’s roughly $1.8 billion budget. State cuts will account for half of U.C. Berkeley’s budget shortfall. Some $15 million in temporary cuts for this fiscal year will become $10 million in permanent cuts for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. About $8 million in state cuts could be restored if California receives a sufficient amount of money from the stimulus package, but U.C. Berkeley brass aren’t counting on that in planning next year’s budget. About half of the budget shortfall comes from increased obligatory expenses such as utilities, health benefit increases, negotiated salaries and the like.

About half of the budget shortfall will be made up through cost savings, both permanent and temporary, Birgeneau said.  Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer emphasized during the call that the university will make every effort to ensure that the budget cuts will not undermine the quality of Berkeley’s undergraduate education.  “Very early in this process, we made a collective decision to prioritize the maintenance of the undergraduate curriculum,” Breslauer said, adding that he plans to increase the provost’s contribution to curriculum support.

While some cuts have yet to be determined, others have been announced, including a staff hiring freeze and a program that allows employees to cut back their working hours without jeopardizing their benefits. Also awaiting approval from the president’s office and regents is a proposal to furlough some staff and faculty members.  “Layoffs will be part of our financial strategy, but because we don’t yet know about the furlough programs and others we are considering, we are not able yet to determine to what extent layoffs will be necessary at individual levels,” Birgeneau said.  Each unit at the university has been asked to submit permanent cuts of 8 percent of their budgets.  Many private donors have stepped up in the face of these big budget cuts. Birgeneau said that private giving over the past eight months since the Hewlett Foundation announced its $113 million challenge grant has been the largest in U.C. Berkeley’s history.  Birgeneau said he expects the financial challenges will continue at least through 2011.

Top 10 Significant Sports Figures

By Tim Kawakami
San Jose Mercury
We had Barry Bonds gobbling up Bay Area attention for 15 years, with a lot of frantic 49ers and ridiculous Raiders characters in between. We had Baron Davis for a bit, Randy Moss for a blip, the original Terrell Owens madness, and still (probably) have Alex Smith to kick around some more. But in the post-Bonds Bay Area sports scene, something feels very different, doesn't it? So the mandate: Figure out the top 10 most significant Bay Area sports figures. Basically, who are the athletes, coaches or executives whose actions cause the most excitement, frustration, celebration and potential controversy?
Here's my list . . .
1. Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum
He's young, quirky, devastatingly talented, already has a Cy Young Award for a franchise that desperately needed a new face, and so far has refrained from amassing an entourage. For as long as Lincecum can stay healthy, and as long as the 49ers don't produce a new superstar quarterback, this is Lincecum's town. And all the questions about his career durability, at his size and with his violent delivery, only make each Lincecum start more compelling.
2. 49ers Coach Mike Singletary.
He has initiated some signs of life in a bleak franchise. Now Singletary has to win. Finding a quarterback would help. He's the exact opposite of Bill Walsh — Singletary has zero subtleness. It's all out there. Rise or fall, and either one could happen instantly.
3. Raiders owner Al Davis.
Owner of the Decades. Though his Raiders have stunk for six consecutive years, nobody dazzles the crowd like AD, even when he's not making much sense.
4. Warriors guard Monta Ellis.
He's like an NBA version of Lincecum (small, charismatic), except he's already hurt, he's angry with the team and he has a $66 million contract. Ellis' health and future is the biggest mystery in Bay Area sports.
5. Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell.
Incredibly talented, incredibly rich . . . but will the Raiders' miseries drag him down? Will he let the Raiders down on his own? Will he emerge as a franchise quarterback? Heading into his third NFL season, Russell is the second-biggest mystery in Bay Area sports.
6. Warriors Coach Don Nelson.
He outmaneuvered Chris Mullin, tricked Chris Cohan, drives fans crazy and is hoping to dump much of the current roster, but, thanks to his recent contract extension, Nelson is almost impossible to fire. More than anybody else on this list, Nelson's singular talent is to get himself onto a list like this. Even when he's 21-42.
7. Sharks center Joe Thornton.
Stanley Cup finals or bust? No athlete in the Bay Area since Steve Young has had this kind of pressure to carry his team through the postseason. That's actually a good thing — Thornton is a great player on a very talented team in a region that deserves to see major progress.
8. A's General Manager Billy Beane/Assistant G.M. David Forst.
Could the hand-off to Forst happen after this season? The farm system is rebuilt. Matt Holliday, Orlando Cabrera, Jason Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra are on hand to try to win this season. Beane is the A's Mr. Everything. The expected transition to Forst should be fascinating to watch.
9. Cal football coach Jeff Tedford.
In a pro town, Tedford's great successes, his longevity in a tough job and, more pointedly, his rare non-successes (no Rose Bowls) nudge him into this conversation. Barely.
10. Giants pitcher Barry Zito.

Tracy Slocum Kicked Off Team and Jonathan Okane’s blog both report that Cal running back Tracy Slocum has been kicked off the team for violating team rules.


More to come.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Nate Longshore Preparing for NFL Draft

The Santa Clarita Signal Reports as follows (link):


The Cowboy Touchdown Club and Cowboy Football has established the Cowboys Football Hall of Fame and its first class features some of the biggest names in Canyon High history.  The class of three will be six-time Canyon CIF championship head coach Harry Welch, former quarterback Nate Longshore and former All-CIF lineman Brent Parkinson. Longshore is currently training with Welch at his home in the San Juan Capistrano area in preparation for the NFL Draft. The club is planning on having a hall of fame class every year.

Welch, Longshore and Parkinson will all receive Canyon green blazers and have their names etched into a plaque that will be placed in the Canyon High gymnasium

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Memorial Stadium Project Update

The Berkeley Daily Planet reports the following:

“Steel to shore up excavations for the Student Athlete High Performance Center is already on the stadium site, and construction may be completed earlier than planned, said UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof.  The gym, a four-level partially subterranean structure, is being built at the site of the now-vanished grove which had been the site of the nation’s longest urban tree-sit.
And while crews are preparing that site, university planners are working out the final details for renovation of the western half of the stadium itself.  “We will be going to the regents sometime soon,” Mogulof said.
The regents gave their approval earlier this month to a revised budget for the high tech gym project, with the budget now set at $153 million, a boost of $25 million.  Mogulof said the additional funds were needed to cover increased construction costs, particularly labor.  Originally, the regents had approved $100 million in external funding (borrowing) for the project, but on Feb. 5 they upped the total to $136 million. Funds anticipated from gifts were reduced by $448,000 to an even $17 million.  Loans will be paid on an interest-only basis during construction, and the regents directed repayment to be the top priority for revenues earned from the campus football program.”