Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SF Examiner: Tedford's season hampered by quarterback problem

Glenn Dickey

There are many reasons Jeff Tedford suffered his first losing season at Cal this fall, but none so big as the quarterback problem.  So the most important goal is finding a quarterback who can return the Bears to a bowl, where they are notably absent for the first time in eight years.  “We’re going to concentrate on finding that one guy in the spring, so we can work with him for the season,” Tedford said in a recent interview.

Brock Mansion, who ended the season No. 1 after Kevin Riley’s collegiate career was ended by a severe knee injury in the Oregon State game, returns for his senior season, but he’ll have to show much more than he did at the end of the 2010 season.  Mansion has shown the ability in practice to make all the throws, but he was tentative and inconsistent in games.   “It was like the game was too fast for him,” Tedford said. “We kept waiting for that breakthrough when he’d take charge, but he’d make some nice throws and then just throw one into the dirt. The good thing was that he didn’t turn the ball over.”

In the spring, Tedford said he’ll put Mansion in competitive situations to see if he can develop the poise he needs.

“You can’t do it with 7-on-7 drills,” he said. “It has to be as close as possible to a live game situation.”

Link to rest of article.

Monday, December 20, 2010

SF Chronicle: Bears on Recruiting Trail

John Crumpacker

Although the football season ended badly for Cal, the worst of coach Jeff Tedford's nine seasons in Berkeley, recruiting is apparently going well for the Bears.  According to both Rivals.com and ESPN, Cal has secured commitments from 15 high school players, as many as eight of them considered four-star recruits. One of them is quarterback Kyle Boehm of Mitty High in San Jose. Man, do the Bears ever need a capable quarterback in 2011. I like Brock Mansion but he did not do enough in his time as a starter toward the end of 2010 to justify confidence in him for next season.

Keenan Allen's half-brother, Zach Maynard, is expected to enroll in school next semester and when and if he does, he could move to the front of the quarterback competition. The Bears desperately need someone to demonstrate competence at the position and engender confidence among his teammates.  Until a prep player signs his letter of intent, nothing is official, of course. But as it stands now, Cal is ranked in the top 20 in the country in the qualify of players verbally commiting to Berkeley. The class includes three running backs, three defensive linemen, two offensive linemen, two defensive backs, one linebacker, one tight end, one wide receiver and one fellow listed as an "athlete,'' Jalen Jefferson of Ventura.  Among Tedford's 2010 coaching staff, offensive line coach Steve Marshall accepted a similar position at Colorado while receivers coach Kevin Daft was let go.

Link to rest of article.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Contra Costa Times: Tedford fires two Cal assistant coaches


Cal football coach Jeff Tedford made his first moves to shake things up after the Bears' 5-7 season, firing wide receivers coach Kevin Daft and strength and conditioning coach John Krasinski on Friday.  Daft, a former NFL quarterback, was the Bears' quarterbacks coach in 2007 before moving to receivers in 2008. He held that position the past three seasons.

The Bears have suffered a void of playmaking from their receivers in recent years, and it's contributed to a subpar passing offense. Marvin Jones has been a consistent producer the past two seasons, averaging 46.5 catches, 708 yards and five touchdowns. The Bears haven't been able to find anyone else to be a consistent playmaker, although freshman Keenan Allen showed promise.

Krasinski spent the past nine years as Cal's strength and conditioning coach. He was heavily involved in the plans for the new Student-Athlete High-Performance Center currently being constructed adjacent to Memorial Stadium.  Colorado coach Jon Embree confirmed the hiring of Steve Marshall as offensive line coach. Marshall's departure from Cal, where he was the offensive line coach the past two seasons, was initially reported last week.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ESPN: Todd Barr Commits to Cal


It was a whirlwind recruitment for Lakewood (Calif.) defensive tackle Todd Barr. His leader changed a few times but the one constant was always Cal and on Monday, the talented lineman decided to end the recruiting process.

Barr nearly committed to Cal after an unofficial visit back in the summer. He decided to take his official visits but then nearly committed to the Bears following another unofficial visit during the season.

He held off once more and took official visits to Washington, Florida and Oregon. Following his visits to the Swamp and Eugene, word was he wanted to commit to each school but something always held him back. Just a week ago, Lancer coach Thadd MacNeal said Oregon was the leader and he could commit soon. Barr decided to take one last official visit to Berkeley two weeks ago and now he's a Bear.

ESPN: Cal Posting a Big Recruiting Week


California didn't have a great season on the field, but it's surging in recruiting.  The Bears received commitments from two ESPNU 150 players this week: defensive tackle Todd Barr of Lakewood, Calif., and linebacker Jason Gibson of Serra (Gardena, Calif.).  And they might pull a trifecta: touted defensive back Avery Walls of Eagle's Landing Christian High School (McDonough, Ga.) is expected to decide Tuesday between the Bears, Oregon and Michigan.  Barr and Gibson give Cal 14 commitments.  Barr, 6-foot-3, 265 pounds, is ranked the nation's No. 3 defensive tackle and No. 31 overall prospect. He made official visits to Oregon, Washington and Florida, but he had offers from every BCS conference.  "It's where I always wanted to go," Barr told ESPN's Greg Biggins. "I have a great comfort level there and I'm very comfortable with all the coaches. I'm super tight with Tosh [Lupoi], the defensive line coach and that made a big difference for me. I think the defense is a great fit for me, I love the academics and I like how the school is far enough away from home to get the college feel but still close enough to come home whenever I want to."
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Gibson is ranked the No. 6 outside linebacker and No. 129 overall in the nation. He also received offers from every Pac-10 school, among others across the country.  The Bears' 2010 class finished ranked 15th in the nation. Is this one on pace to match or even eclipse it?

ESPN: Jason Gibson Commits to Cal


Monday was a big day for Cal as the Bears locked up Lakewood (Calif.) defensive lineman Todd Barr earlier in the day and then landed Serra (Gardena, Calif.) linebacker Jason Gibson at night.  "I'm a Bear, I'm excited to get this out of the way," Gibson said. "I called up coach [Jeff] Tedford and told him I was ready to be a Bear and I could tell he was real excited too. Cal just felt right to me and I've been leaning there since the spring. In fact, I was close to committing there before the season started but I decided I wanted to take some visits first.  "I liked Oregon a lot too, that was a cool visit but Cal was just the best fit for me. I like the academics, I like the defense and I think the 3-4 scheme fits me really well. Some schools liked me as a defensive end because I can rush the passer but size wise, I think linebacker is the best position for me and at Cal, I'll get the best of both worlds. I'll be able to play linebacker and still rush the passer."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Contra Costa Times: Cal's Offensive Line Coach Departs

Cal offensive line coach Steve Marshall will take the same position at Colorado under new coach Jon Embree, rivals.com is reporting. Neither school confirmed the move Thursday, and Cal coach Jeff Tedford didn't respond to a text message seeking comment.  The move will require Tedford to hire his second offensive line coach in less than two years. He hired Marshall in January 2009 after longtime coach Jim Michalczik left.




Monday, November 15, 2010

Oakland Tribune: Bears have no time for self-pity as they prepare for Big Game vs. Stanford

Jonathan Okanes

The 113th edition of the Big Game isn't so much a showdown with its bitter rival but a form of therapy for Cal.  The Bears, coming off one of their most excruciating losses in recent memory, need something to divert their attention to the future. Nothing like the prospect of retaining The Axe to help Cal move on from Saturday's 15-13 loss to No. 1 Oregon.  "It's the Big Game. There's definitely a lot of excitement, a lot of energy," Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed said. "I don't think guys are going to have too much of a problem putting this one behind us."

The Bears defense played the game of a lifetime in shutting down the Ducks' potent attack, but Cal's offense went down with a whimper. Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio also missed a 29-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter that would have given the Bears the lead.  To come so close to dethroning the nation's top team and still walk away losers was devastating for the Bears.

"Saturday night to Sunday, you kind of feel like you got robbed a little bit," Cal center Chris Guarnero said. "I felt like we had opportunities and we should have won. Give credit to Oregon. They won a close game on the road." It's not only the excitement of playing Stanford that can help the Bears move forward. The Oregon game demonstrated that Cal can be competitive with the top teams in the country, at least on defense.

Link to rest of story.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SF Chronicle: Cal Must Contain Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers

John Crumpacker

A fellow named Quizz is going to put Cal's defense to the test on Saturday at Oregon State.  Jacquizz Rodgers, the Beavers' dynamic running back, can make defenses look silly with his start-and-stop moves and quickness. The junior has rushed for 621 yards and 10 touchdowns this season to go with 15 receptions for 128 yards and two scores.  "He's a guy that keeps you awake at night," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. Tedford, who has been known to sleep in his office, was asked if game-planning for Rodgers really causes him to lose sleep.

"Well, Clancy is, I'm sure," said Tedford, referring to defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. "They have plenty of other things that keep me up at night. I have a lot of confidence in our defense. Except for those two games (Nevada, USC), they did an excellent job."  Rodgers is only 5-foot-7 but that works to his advantage because he can be difficult to spot behind his offensive line. When he does make contact with a defender, he packs a lot of power in his 191 pounds. He also has the ability to make tacklers miss, and can outrun them, as well.

"The challenge that he brings is really everything," Tedford said. "He catches the ball well out of the backfield, he blocks, he's so strong. If he jumps sideways on you, you've got to get on that or he'll be gone. You can't arm tackle him. You can never go to sleep on him."

Link to rest of article.

SF Examiner: Critics of Cal's Coaching Show Ignorance is Bliss

Glenn Dickey

Will the resounding Cal win over Arizona State on Saturday shut up some of the “win-or-else” supporters? One can only hope.  Jeff Tedford is the most successful Cal coach since Andy Smith in the 1920s, and those of us who have been around Cal football for a long time appreciate him. But the last couple of years, Tedford and his assistants have been under fire from the know-nothings.

Last year, it was defensive coordinator Bob Gregory who was slammed for what the know-nothings­ thought was too passive of a defensive scheme. Gregory, who is well respected by his peers, had coached a more aggressive defense the year before — when he had Zach Follett coming off the edge. When you blitz, if you don’t get the quarterback, there’s a lot of one-on-one coverage in the secondary. Without Follett, that’s what Gregory feared.

New coordinator Clancy Pendergast put in some aggressive defensive schemes. One of the leaders of the know-nothings e-mailed me the week after the UCLA game saying that proved they were right the year before. I pointed out that the strong defensive efforts had mostly come against weak offensive teams at home and that the schemes had been no help when the Nevada Wolfpack ran up 51 points on the Bears.

Read the rest here.

SF Chronicle: Brock Mansion is Cal's QB 2

John Crumpacker

Junior Brock Mansion has moved ahead of sophomore Beau Sweeney as Cal's backup quarterback, a potentially significant development for next season, when the starting job will be up for grabs among as many as five candidates.  With 12 minutes left in Saturday's game against Arizona State and the Bears leading 50-10, it was Mansion, not Sweeney, who replaced Kevin Riley.  Mansion is "focused and he's always involved in game-planning," coach Jeff Tedford said. "He understands the offense just fine. The game situation afforded us (the opportunity) to get somebody in, and he played the whole fourth quarter. Brock is an unbelievable team player. He epitomizes a team guy. He always has a great attitude and works hard."

Mansion, who lost ground to Sweeney in training camp, practiced well enough during the first half of the season to persuade Tedford to go with him as Riley's backup.

Link to rest of story.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

USC Routs Cal 48 to 14

Riley goes 15/29 for 191 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ESPN: What to Watch in the Pac-10: Week 7



Riley vs. the Trojans secondary: USC has struggled on defense as a whole this year, but it is much worse against the pass -- see a young secondary that tackles poorly -- than against the run -- see a talented, if thin, front-seven. Last week, Cal's senior QB Kevin Riley had a forgettable game passing, but he's going to have to throw well to win at USC. The Trojans rank 116th in the nation in passing defense (287.5 yards per game), so that is a weakness Riley must attack. While Riley has been inconsistent throughout his career, he also has posted plenty of efficient performances. He'll need one of those for the Bears to win.

Kendricks' Fierce Tackle Was One for the Textbooks

John Crumpacker

Good team man that he is, Mike Mohamed didn't sound at all jealous when talking about the textbook hit Mychal Kendricks delivered to the midsection of UCLA running back Derrick Coleman.  Excited, yes; jealous, no.  "Coach (Clancy) Pendergast, on that particular play, stopped the tape and said, 'That is probably the best form tackle I've ever seen,' " Mohamed said. "It was awesome. It was a clinic-type tackle."  Indeed, any defensive player watching Kendricks' perfect form tackle would have cause to be at least a little envious of this example of preparation and technique intersecting with opportunity.

"It got everybody excited," said Pendergast, Cal's defensive coordinator who spent the previous 15 seasons in the NFL. "It brought some energy on the field when it happened."  UCLA had a 2nd-and-4 from its 35-yard line in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium when Kendricks quickly came up from his outside-linebacker spot and planted his facemask in Coleman's chest while staying low and keeping his legs churning.

Link to rest of article.

ESPN: Cal's Shane Vereen Ready for his Close-Up

Ted Miller

The Man has been holding California running back Shane Vereen down. And by "The Man," I mean the media. There's a reason that Vereen is the best running back folks outside the West Coast haven't heard of. There's a reason a back who can go yard or run with power or catch passes doesn't get more publicity.   Folks, these are tough times. Everyone is worried about jobs -- getting one, keeping one. And Vereen, a media studies major, is eyeballing a job at ESPN. After talking to the articulate junior for only a few minutes, there is one obvious reaction for any media member: Yikes.   "I've always wanted to be a sports analyst," he said. "One of my favorite shows is SportsCenter. I like PTI. I grew up watching Stuart Scott. It's been a big dream of mine to be able to argue about sports."

(Note to boss: Vereen wants to be on TV. He has no interest in taking over the Pac-10 blog. So no need to contact him. Really. Please.).   Vereen is presently second in the Pac-10 and 13th in the nation with 115.4 yards per game. He's tied with Oregon's LaMichael James for the Pac-10 lead in touchdowns with 10 (eight rushing, two receiving). He and the Bears visit USC on Saturday in a critical matchup for both teams. The winner figures to set a trajectory into the top-half of the Pac-10. The loser likely takes a turn to the bottom-half.

Link to rest of article.

Daily Cal: Trojan War


If the NCAA allowed the use of instant replay in 2002, then coach Jeff Tedford probably wouldn't be winless at the Coliseum.  Instead, the Trojans orchestrated an 18-point comeback to nip the Bears, 30-28, in one of the most controversial games in Cal football history.  The Bears roared out to a 21-3 lead in the first quarter and a half, but with a five minutes remaining in the second quarter, USC quarterback Carson Palmer threw a pass to wide receiver Kareem Kelly in the endzone. As Kelly fell, the ball also slipped out of his grasp. He hit the ground with nothing in his hands. The play, nonetheless, was called a touchdown.  It was also the difference in the game.  The Bears ultimately could not stop the offensive onslaught of the victorious Trojans, but the game reinvigorated a long-comatose rivalry between the two teams.


For those who were there that dusky evening at Memorial Stadium, the sight of a football sailing through the uprights into the sunset sky will live on forever.  So will that feeling.  The Bears' triple-overtime victory over No. 3 USC was like a scene scripted for a movie.  There was the redemption angle: kicker Tyler Frederickson had two field goals blocked before nailing the game-winning 38-yarder. There was the feel-good angle: future star Aaron Rodgers quarterbacked until the third quarter, when the selfless, team-first fan favorite Reggie Robertson was put in. He threw the Bears' final touchdown.  And then there was the birth of a rivalry. Cal's win was the first over the Trojans at home in years and, though the Bears haven't won since, they've played every game tough, regardless of ranking. Because you never know when you'll recapture that feeling.

Link to rest of story

Daily Cal: Cal's Defense Surging as USC Looms

Jack Wang

There are 109 players on the Cal football team's roster. Not a single one knows what it feels like to beat USC.  For a number of seniors, their last chance kicks off this Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at the L.A. Coliseum. The rest of the squad will try and make sure it happens.  "Everyone, once in their college career, deserves to beat 'SC," junior linebacker Mychal Kendricks said.  Kendricks is currently the Pac-10's leader in sacks with four, and he's part of a defense that has been resurgent under coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

Five games into 2010, the unit has more than lived up to its billing. It's currently the top defense in the conference and seventh in the nation.  If you ask players, most will say they saw it coming.  "Yeah, you have to have high expectations," Kendricks said. "I feel like if you don't have high expectations, what are you doing out there playing?

"High expectations are what it's all about. You gotta set the bar high for yourself and your team. So, when I said that's the type of defense we expected, I really meant that."  This weekend, the Bears will be tasked with stopping the Trojans' explosive offense. While USC may not be the unstoppable juggernaut it once was, it still boasts the nation's 13th-ranked attack - behind only top-ranked Oregon in the Pac-10.

Link to rest of story.

AP: How Cal's Jeff Tedford Got Lane Kiffin's Football Coaching Career Started

Going into his senior year at Fresno State in 1997, quarterback Lane Kiffin, it was apparent, wasn't going to get any playing time. So offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford made him an offer to do something he was probably going to be better at anyway.  "I said, 'Why don't you just start as a (graduate assistant) right now?' because you knew he was going to coach," Tedford said. "So he did. He spent long hours. Even as a student, he spent long hours in my office with me at night watching tape. He would always give suggestions."  Now, Tedford has the task of finding a way to stop Kiffin's USC Trojans, who host Cal on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Tedford said he always knew Kiffin would become a coach, not surprising because Kiffin is part of a large football family. Most notable is his father, Monte, a longtime respected defensive guru, now USC's defensive coordinator.

Link to rest of story.

Stanford Quarterback Andrew Luck takes out USC Linebacker Shareece Wright

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oakland Tribune: Tedford Unhappy with Riley's Performance

Monte Poole

Jeff Tedford entered the postgame news conference and made no attempt to conceal his mixed emotions.  The Cal coach was pleased with his running game, especially junior Shane Vereen (151 yards on 25 carries), and delighted with the Golden Bears' defense, which set the tone for the 35-7 trouncing of UCLA on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.  Eventually, though, Tedford zeroed in on the pass offense and lit into it about as fiercely as he ever has.

"We need to throw the ball better," he said dryly.  Tedford said this, in a variety of ways, no fewer than four times. Each time, his eyes would narrow and his jaw would tighten ever so slightly. As much he accepted this victory, he could not hide his discontent with the aspect of football he enjoys more than any other.

Link to rest of article.

Friday, October 01, 2010

LA Times: Should Cal Fire Tedford?

Chris Dufresne posted the following question and answer in his mailbag column (link):

Q: Any chance that Jeff Tedford might be fired at the end of the season? I'm really tired of visits to the Emerald Bowl and I figure the money saved could be used to restore the recently cut baseball and rugby teams at Cal.

Pedro Cardenas Jr.

A: Only if enough clear-headed fans such as yourself band together, storm the Berkeley administration gates, and demand the departure of one of the most successful coaches in school history.  How about a protest? You guys are good at those. Go climb in a tree and not come down until Cal finds a better coach than Tedford, who took over a program that had one victory in 2001.

Here's the backdrop to the win:

Cal's game at hapless Rutgers that year was postponed because of 9/11. The Bears were 0-10 when it came to replay the game. Rutgers, limping home at 2-8, wanted to cancel the game, you know, to save Cal some money for its baseball program.  No way Cal was going to pass up its only chance of victory that year. The Bears flew across the country and prevailed, 20-10.

Tedford was hired the next year and has since gone 69-37, with eight straight winning seasons, seven consecutive bowl appearances and a 7-1 record against Stanford.  It is true Cal under Tedford has been perplexing at times — that wipeout loss at Nevada this year the most recent example.  But given the school's culture, politics, budget restraints and idiosyncrasies, finding a better coach than Tedford at this point might be impossible.  I might, though, suggest pink-slipping a few fans.

SF Chronicle: Conte Settles in at Strong Safety for Cal

John Crumpacker


After playing what might have been the best game of his Cal football career, safety Chris Conte is on a roll. Literally.

There he was, slowly rolling along the length of the artificial turf field of Memorial Stadium the other day, the plastic playing surface even hotter than normal on a 90-degree afternoon.  It was postpractice punishment for being late at the start, a fact Conte disputed by saying, "Coach (Jeff) Tedford didn't like seeing us (defensive backs) coming down the stairs late. I personally don't think I was late. I made it onto the field before the first horn."  Upon completion of the punitive 100-yard roll, Conte was drenched in sweat, making it easier for those annoying black rubber granules embedded in the turf to stick to his skin. Not a pretty sight, especially for Conte.

Link to rest of article.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Contra Costa Times: Coach Jeff Tedford stands by kicker Giorgio Tavecchio

Jonathan Okanes

Eager to put the devastating 10-9 loss to Arizona behind him, Cal coach Jeff Tedford requested to speak to the media Monday so the Bears can move on to their bye week and start preparing for UCLA (Oct. 9).  Tedford knew there would be several follow-up questions about Saturday's game, and he wanted to get those out of the way immediately. Cal didn't practice Monday, but Tedford spoke with reporters at Memorial Stadium.  Cal appeared to be in control of Saturday's game until the Wildcats scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:11 remaining.

"The way it unfolded. It was a very emotional, hard-fought game," Tedford said. "It was right there for the taking, and we let it slip away. Those are always very difficult."  The Bears shut down Arizona's spread offense for most of the night, but the Wildcats forged a 77-yard drive during the game's final minutes, highlighted by a 51-yard pass play from quarterback Nick Foles to wide receiver Juron Criner. Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 40-yard field goal attempt at the end of Cal's previous possession that could have put the game away.

Link to rest of article.

Cal Drops Baseball From Athletic Program

Cal just announced that they will be dropping baseball, along with gymnastics, women's lacrosse, and rugby (which will still be a club sport) from the athletic program.  Yet they keep soccer (a sport primarily for kids that lack the physical ability to play football, baseball, or basketball) and golf, which is a skill, not a sport.
Baseball has been played at Cal since 1892.  38 players will have to either transfer or stop playing ball.  Send your thoughts to Birgeneau and Barbour.
Robert Birgeneau: robertjb@berkeley.edu
Sandy Barbour
athletic.director@berkeley.edu (obviously not her real address, but send a note anyway)

Monday, September 20, 2010

ESPN: One Game Doesn't Define Cal, Washington

Ted Miller

The Pac-10, in general, collected applause for a mostly distinguished performance against a rugged nine-game slate over the weekend. Then there were California and Washington. They created the need for that weak adverb -- "mostly" -- because they got their rear ends handed to them.   Both surrendered more than 50 points. Both were sliced and diced for more than 300 rushing yards. Neither showed much backbone.  Their circumstances after three games are the same. And different.

Washington entered the season with high expectations, that the program was on the cusp of returning to Pac-10 and national relevance. After an embarrassing 0-12 campaign in 2008 under Tyrone Willingham, the Huskies had gone 5-7 in 2009 under new coach Steve Sarkisian, with victories over USC and California. When quarterback Jake Locker, who might have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, announced he would be joining 19 other returning starters in the fall -- good news that preceded the signing of a nationally ranked recruiting class -- it seemed like everything was trending up for the program.   The Huskies are now 1-2 after being completely outclassed at home in a 56-21 loss to Nebraska. Locker turned in the worst performance of his career and may have severely damaged his once-soaring draft stock.

Link to rest of article.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Cal blows out UC Davis 52-3 in season opener

Jonathan Okanes

Part of the reason might have been because the opponent plays in an inferior division, but Cal freshman Keenan Allen sure made college football look easy in his debut Saturday afternoon.  Allen, who came to Berkeley out of Greesnboro, N.C., as one of the top recruits in the country, made UC Davis' defense look laughable in the Bears' season-opening 52-3 victory in front of 58,040 at sun-splashed Memorial Stadium. Allen caught four passes for 120 yards and a touchdown and added 38 yards and a score on the ground, making for one of the more memorable Cal introductions in recent memory.  "He's unreal," Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed said. "He was making big play after big play. Everything he did today, we saw in camp. To us, it's no surprise. We expect to see a lot more of that this year."  Allen was rated as the fifth-best prospect in the country by rivals.com and made an immediate impact during training camp, earning a starting spot after just a few days. The first time he touched the ball against UC Davis came on a lateral from quarterback Kevin Riley, and Allen evaded an attempted tackle by Aggies cornerback Jonathan Calhoun en route to a 17-yard gain.  Early in the second quarter, Allen took a handoff on an end around and looked down field to pass. The intended receiver was covered, so Allen reversed field and ran 18 yards for a touchdown.

Link to rest of article.

San Francisco Chronicle: Riley, Freshman Lead Cal in Rout of UC Davis


Before folks get carried away and give the Heisman Trophy to wide receiver Keenan Allen after one game, let's see this polished Cal freshman do it against a real college football team. Poor UC Davis certainly did not qualify on that count Saturday at Memorial Stadium as the Bears made the Aggies absorb a 52-3 defeat for their $300,000 payday down Interstate 80. Allen, the prize of coach Jeff Tedford's 2010 recruiting class, dazzled 58,000 fans in his first game as he gained 158 yards and scored two touchdowns on just seven touches on offense. He also had an 18-yard kickoff return. "He's going to make plays, but you've got to think we're going to be playing better competition, so it won't be as easy," quarterback Kevin Riley said of his wunderkind teammate. "It's going to be harder against better teams."

Link to rest of article.

Daily Democrat: UC Davis has crushing experience at Cal

UC Davis' football team might not want to make another trek to Memorial Stadium for another 71 years.  The heavily favored, more athletic and talented California Golden Bears improved to 9-0 all time against the Aggies with a 52-3 rout in both teams' season openers on Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 58,040. "They were better. They were much more physical," said Aggies coach Bob Biggs, who expected a tighter contest. "... They just moved us around. They controlled the O-line and D-line and made it very difficult for us to do anything offensively."  The Aggies (0-1) managed just four first downs and 81 total yards of offense.  Their defense didn't fare much better, allowing 517 yards against a well-rounded  Shane Vereen scores in the third quarter for the Bears.

Link to rest of article.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Daily Cal: Midweek Notebook: Week 1

Jack Wang

Perhaps one of the biggest changes to this year's Cal football practices - from the players' perspective, at least - has been the shift to early morning practices. Rather than running onto the field in the afternoon or evening, the team has to wake up every day by 6 a.m., and stumble up to Strawberry Canyon at around 6:45 or 7.   Having had early wake-up calls all through fall camp, the Bears haven't had too hard of a time adjusting to hiking up the sunrise-backed hills.

"I think for the most part we're doing good," linebacker Mike Mohamed said yesterday. "There's definitely some sleepy eyes in some of the morning meetings. This morning, coach (Kenwick) Thompson, linebackers coach, he cranked up the music right before the meeting just to wake everybody up."  The senior standout admits that the team probably doesn't go to sleep as early as they should. Instead of hitting the sack by the ideal 10 p.m., players will more likely stay up past midnight, as many college students would.  Coach Jeff Tedford said the change was made in order to give the Bears more time during the day; when everything on the schedule is crammed into the night, the risk of burning out players rises.

Link to rest of article.


SF Chronicle: Bears' legacy gives Vereen motivation

John Crumpacker

Call it the Stout Blue Line, although it's getting longer by the year. Are you good enough to stand with the others? Shane Vereen is eager to try, and there's every indication he belongs.  For the better part of the past decade, running backs at Cal under coach Jeff Tedford have prospered, sometimes prodigiously. Starting with his first year at Berkeley in 2002, Tedford has had an individual 1,000-yard rusher every season but one, and 2009 certainly deserves an asterisk.  Jahvid Best was headed for his second straight 1,000-yard season when a scary and spectacular injury and concussion ended his season at 867 yards. Vereen responded and gained most of his 952 yards in four starts, including career highs for yards (193) and carries (42) against Stanford.  It's Vereen's turn as the featured tailback for the Bears, starting Saturday at Memorial Stadium against UC Davis.

Link to rest of article.

Oakland Tribune: The coach with a (blue and) gold heart

Dave Newhouse

It's no surprise that George Romero's favorite colors are blue and gold. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1968, and he remains passionately loyal to his alma mater, including the Cal football team, while he fights for his life.  Romero, 64, has terminal brain cancer. But just as he's convinced that Cal can return to the Rose Bowl after 52 years, he truly thinks he can beat his medical condition despite ongoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He lives in a San Jose residential care facility. In late July, he received a phone call at a Los Gatos nursing home, where he was staying after having surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor. "Mr. Romero, this is Cal football coach Jeff Tedford."

Romero figured it was Roger Buttermore, an old Pioneer High School classmate, playing a trick on him. "What the hell happened at that Oregon State game?" Romero asked. The last-second defeat to Oregon State in 2007, which cost Cal a No. 1 national ranking, remains Tedford's most crushing defeat in his eight years at Cal.  "Well, Mr. Romero, we're going to try to not let that happen again," the voice on the other end said patiently. Romero muttered, "Roger, is this you?" "Mr. Romero," the voice said, "I know you're not going to believe this, but this is Jeff Tedford." "Coach," an embarrassed Romero said, "this is the best get-well greeting that I could possibly have."

Link to rest of article.

Contra Costa Times: Shane Vereen ready to take his place among elite Cal running backs

Jonathan Okanes

When Shane Vereen came to Cal in 2007 as rivals.com's No. 5-rated running back in the country, he wasn't even the best at his position in the Bears' recruiting class that year.  Vereen arrived in Berkeley along with Jahvid Best, who went on to become one of the top tailbacks in college football and ultimately a first-round NFL draft pick by the Detroit Lions. Such is the landscape at Cal, which has spent the second part of this decade churning out elite running backs.

Bears coach Jeff Tedford, a former quarterback in the Canadian Football League, has a reputation for producing potent aerial attacks. But lately it should be for developing star running backs.   Each of the Bears' starting tailbacks since 2004 has been drafted by an NFL team. J.J. Arrington, after leading the country in rushing, was a second-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2005. Marshawn Lynch was the 12th overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2007, and Justin Forsett was taken by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round in 2008. Best was taken 30th overall in April.  Now, it's Vereen's turn. The redshirt junior has flashed his ability in doses as Best's backup the past two seasons. He was the starting running back in the final four games last year after Best was injured, and for the season Vereen rushed for a team-high 952 yards, including 193 in 42 carries in Cal's win over Stanford.

Link to rest of article.


Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Tedford: 'I'm not complacent; I care'

By Lowell Cohn

It started with a phone call. Well, it actually started before the phone call, but I'll tell you about the phone call first.

It was 9:30 p.m. on Monday Aug.2, and I was upstairs reading and heard the phone ring downstairs in my office. By the time I got down there, the caller had hung up. I pressed the button on my answering machine and the caller was Cal football coach Jeff Tedford — Jeff Tedford? — asking me to phone him back no matter how late I got his message.  I knew what it was about. That afternoon Tedford had attended the Bay Area College Football Media luncheon and I had asked if he had anything to prove and he said, no. I wrote he did have something to prove and I wrote he came off complacent. The newspaper posted my column online. It could not have been there more than two hours — and here was Tedford calling.

So, I took a deep breath and phoned him back and he thanked me for calling and apologized for troubling me so late on a Monday night. As we spoke, I recalled how some other coaches might have handled this deal with anger and profanity and I remember thinking, “This is a real gentleman.”

Tedford blamed himself for misinterpreting my question — took all blame on himself — and asked if we could try again, one-on-one, at my convenience in his office. Sure. And that's why I found myself a few days ago driving up to the trailer that is the Cal football headquarters while they re-do Memorial Stadium.

Link to rest of article.

Friday, August 27, 2010

SF Chronicle: Steve Mariucci is Proud of Ex-Cal Assistants

Vittorio Tafur

In 1996, Cal averaged 458 yards of total offense and won the Aloha Bowl. Drawing up the plays were none other than Hue Jackson and Tom Cable, now the Raiders' offensive coordinator and head coach.  Back then, Jackson was the Bears' offensive coordinator and Cable the offensive line coach under head coach Steve Mariucci.  "They work well together," said Mariucci, who is now an analyst for the NFL Network. "Hue installed the passing game and Tom installed the running game. They are going to strive to have balance; they've always done that." Jackson and Cable also worked together at Cal State Fullerton in 1990 - Jackson as the running backs coach and Cable as the offensive line coach.

Mariucci said he thinks both men will lean on Raiders passing game coordinator Ted Tollner at times.  "He has all the experience in the world," Mariucci said of the former Niners, Lions and Chargers offensive coordinator. "He thinks they're both excellent coaches."

Read the rest here.

(Surprisingly, the article makes no mention of former assistant Tom Holmoe).

SF Chronicle: Five Keys for Cal

By John Crumpacker

Five keys for Cal

1. The life of Riley - Kevin Riley must become a consistent leader and not someone who traverses the peaks and valleys.

2. Freshmen, what say you? - Keenan Allen is a likely starter at receiver and Kaelin Clay will be in the mix. Watch, too, for running back Dasarte Yarnway, linebackers David Wilkerson and Steven Fanua, and cornerback Steve Williams.

3. Float like a butterfly, sting like a linebacker - Much is expected of inside linebacker Mike Mohamed, last year's leading tackler in the Pac-10.

4. Coach 'em up - The Bears lost four conference games by an aggregate 145-30 last season. That can't happen again. It's up to Jeff Tedford to keep his team from plunging into despair when the going gets tough.

5. Take a fancy to Clancy - New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, late of the NFL's Cardinals, promises an attacking unit. Let's see this man, who came within one brilliant catch by Santonio Holmes of winning a Super Bowl, deliver.

SF Examiner: Sofele named No. 2 tailback for Cal

Jake Curtis

Sophomore Isi Sofele will be Shane Vereen's backup at tailback this season, Cal coach Jeff Tedford said Thursday, and being the No. 2 tailback in the Bears' system is a significant role.  The 5-foot-7 Sofele provides a big-play threat as a runner and receiver, and he is tough enough to run inside, despite his small stature.  The No. 2 tailback gets quite a bit of action in Cal's offense.   In fact, the No. 2 Cal tailback has averaged 112 carries and 678 yards over the past seven seasons and is often used as a pass receiver as well.    Vereen was the No. 2 tailaback last season, and he wound up with 952 rushing yards and 25 receptions.

Tedford said Sofele will be used much like backup tailbacks of the past, which means Vereen will get about 25 carries and Sofele should get about 8 to 10.   Establishing a backup tailback during preseason camp was a priority for Tedford, who did not want Vereen to carry the heavy load he had late last season.   Vereen carried the ball 42 times against Stanford, and the toll showed its effects in the final two games.

Read the rest here.

SF Chronicle: Tedford Names Starters

John Crumpacker

It looks like a odd case of the gout cost Derrick Hill his starting job at nose guard when Cal coach Jeff Tedford announced his two-deep depth chart after practice on Thursday.  Promising sophomore Kendrick Payne gets the nod at the nose but when he's recovered, Hill is almost certain to get playing time, too.  I did a piece on Hill for last Sunday's Chronicle and came away liking the young man greatly for reasons beyond football. He appears to have prospered in Berkeley and is close to graduating with a degree in African American studies.

The Oakland native (McClymonds High School) cares about his community and spends time talking to young people, most recently at Oakland's juvenile detention facility. He's also spoken to inmates at San Quentin as well.

His father has been incarcerated (not at the Q)for the last 20 years, so Hill knows whereof he speaks. I hope he's able to bounce back and be a strong contributor to the Bears this season. In other two-deep grist, Isi Sofele will be the primary backup to starting tailback Shane Vereen. The little guy was impressive in training camp and deserves to be No. 3. Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson slid to No. 3 with a late injury and redshirt freshman Dasarte Yarnway is fourth on the depth chart.

Read the rest of the article here.

ESPN: Tedford Praises Riley

By Ted Miller

Heading into the 2010 season, the optimistic question for California fans is this: What happens if Kevin Riley breaks through as a senior quarterback?  The answer (probably): The Bears finish in the top-third of the Pac-10.  So hearing coach Jeff Tedford say this should warm the cockles of Cal fans' hearts: "Kevin Riley has had a phenomenal camp. I've never seen him play as well as he's been playing consistently all through camp." Tedford later added that he had "as much confidence in [Riley] right now as any quarterback I have ever had."

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Daily Cal: Fall Camp 2010 - Edmond Takes Road Less Traveled

Jack Wang
On the final day of fall training camp, the Cal football team piled back into the locker room. The players were given speeches to They rushed out of the tunnel again to a mock-up of the real thing, complete with crowd noise. "Got a little chill, but I'm sure it'll be different on gameday," junior transfer Coleman Edmond said.
If there's anything Edmond knows, it's "different." When the Kingston, N.Y., native finally puts on his pads in a game for Cal, he'll be wearing the third uniform of his college career.  The wide receiver was barely recruited out of high school, so he ended up playing FCS ball for Wagner College, a Staten Island campus of just 2,400 students. He wasn't satisfied staying so close to home -- college football isn't "taken seriously" in New York, he said -- so he started reaching out to bigger programs after one redshirt season.
"I called everybody," Edmond said. "You name them, I called them. I was proactive. I had garbage bags full of phone calls and notes and call backs and e-mails and transcripts. Everybody."   While "everybody" didn't include Cal, his list featured schools such as USC, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas and Miami. UCLA ended up answering his calls, and he transferred there to run track last spring, competing in 15 events.  But when he tried to switch over to football last summer, things didn't go quite as smoothly.
"Some stuff mixed up with the NCAA where I couldn't play that year, so I couldn't go to camp," Edmond said. "I just ended up having to leave because I couldn't afford to stay there anymore. I don't know. Basically, I just couldn't go to camp. You know how busy coaches are at camp time and I guess they didn't want to deal with it.   "I just had to do what I had to do."
Link to rest of article.

Fanhouse: Riley Puts Body of Work on the Line

Michelle Smith
The Pac-10 took four quarterbacks to New York last month as part of the conference's bi-coastal media blitz.  But it didn't take Jeff Tedford's quarterback at Cal. And Tedford took a moment to remind folks from the podium at media day about Kevin Riley's body of work.  "He's the (Pac-10's) active leader in wins, games played and touchdown passes (37)," Tedford said.
And if that came off a just little defensive, maybe it's because Tedford knows that his fifth-year senior quarterback has been through the ringer during his time in Berkeley and he wanted to make sure Riley got what he had earned, even if he doesn't have enough star power to merit a trip to ESPN.  Tedford offered Riley another reminder of what he's earned at the start of training camp when he named Riley the starter from the start. No camp competition. No question marks. Nobody breathing down his neck.  Both the quarterback and the coach say Riley has responded. Riley said he worked harder in this offseason than any other since he arrived in Berkeley from Oregon, lifting consistently, watching film and improving his fundamentals and decision-making.
"I'm more relaxed than any camp I've ever been in," Riley said last week. "Each day I've gotten better, and I'm throwing really well. I have a lot of confidence and people are feeding off that and it feels very comfortable out there."
Link to rest of article.

Contra Costa Times: Tedford Had Help Finding Coordinator

Jonathan Okanes
When Carolyn Pendergast used to run into Jeff and Donna Tedford at the annual Pac-10 meetings in Phoenix, she would always make a point to tell them about her brother, Clancy, who was the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.   Little did she know that, in her own way, she was helping her brother get a job.
Carolyn Pendergast used to be the director of marketing at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, where the conference meetings are held every year. Before that, she was the director of marketing for Cal's athletic department from 1998-2001 and still follows the football program.  When Jeff Tedford, Cal's coach, was doing online research for a defensive coordinator last winter, Clancy Pendergast's picture appeared on the Raiders' website.
Read the rest of the article here.

Recalling his conversations with Carolyn Pendergast, Tedford decided to find out more about Clancy Pendergast. The more he found out, the more he liked.

Tedford hired Pendergast in February to replace longtime defensive coordinator Bob Gregory, who departed for Boise State.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cal Eyes Rebound from Mediocre Season

Bud Withers
Funny thing about some of the offensive gurus of the Pac-10. They're scratching their heads over their offense. At UCLA, Rick Neuheisel has installed Nevada's "Pistol” offense as a way to move the chains. At Arizona State, Dennis Erickson has a new coordinator and a retooled approach. Then there's Jeff Tedford at California. Heretofore known as a molder of quarterbacks, he has experienced a run of pedestrian play behind center that has only added to the enigma around Cal.
So here we have the Bears: They come off an 8-5 season. Not so bad, you say. But the losses were all in double digits, including a composite score of 114-16 against Oregon, USC and Washington. "We definitely had some big losses,” says receiver Jeremy Ross. "We all remember them. But we're just trying to forget what's behind and keep pressing on towards the goal.”   Oh yes, the goal. For the Bears, longest away from the Rose Bowl (1959) in the Pac-10 among the charter members, that's Pasadena. But recent seasons haven't done much to reinforce that Cal will get there anytime soon — the sentiment of those covering the Pac-10.
League media forecast the Bears seventh, after picking them second five of the previous six years. It's the dimmest view of Cal since the first two of Tedford's nine seasons in Berkeley.  "We have a burning desire to get to the Rose Bowl,” Tedford insists. "Our players do, our coaches do, our fans do.”  Tedford is 67-35 at Cal. If you assess consistency, longevity and accomplishment, that might rank better than any Bears coach since Pete Elliott, who ramrodded that last Rose Bowl, and immediately before him, legendary Pappy Waldorf.
Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

ESPN: Cal Starting Lineup Taking Shape

Ted Miller
Good information in this California notebook from Jonathan Okanes. Okanes notes that coach Jeff Tedford has been more open about revealing the pecking order at competitive positions, which is a great help when practices are closed. So there is a lot of choice info here:
On offense, [Tedford] said the definitive starters as of right now are QB Kevin Riley, RB Shane Vereen, WR Marvin Jones, WR Keenan Allen, TE Anthony Miller, LT Mitchell Schwartz and C Chris Guarnero. Allen was the only player he quantified with “as of now.” On defense, Tedford said the only concrete starters are DE Cameron Jordan, ILB Mike Mohamed and OLB Mychal Kendricks. Tedford also said Giorgio Tavecchio would handle both kickoffs and field goals if the season started today.
Key tidbit there: That's true freshman Keenan Allen at receiver next to Jones, which confirms the scuttlebutt coming out of practices that a number of freshmen are in the mix.
Link to rest of article.

SF Chronicle: Tedford Doesn't Worry, Makes Team Happy

John Crumpacker
True to his word, Jeff Tedford is letting the good times roll during Cal's fall camp, or at least as much as a football coach dares in the course of preparing his team for the serious business of the season ahead.  A 2010 preseason theme with Tedford was to lighten up and have a little fun within the context of preparation, and so it was Thursday at Memorial Stadium as offensive and defensive players divided up for a friendly post-practice competition while Bob Marley played on the sound system.
Jeff Tedford and Bob Marley, together again. Wow.   "We were rolling," reserve tight end Savai'i Eselu said. "When we hear some Bob Marley prepractice or postpractice, it sets the tempo. Oh, yeah, Teddy is always surprising us. It's good fun to keep it loose. It's not always banging, banging."  That at least one of his players feels hang-loose enough to refer to the head coach as "Teddy" indicates how successful Tedford has been in this lighten-up business. What's next, Tedford in flip-flops and an aloha shirt?  "We've been going hard for a couple weeks; it's nice to have a little fun," the coach said. "You get to a certain point in camp, we had 101 plays yesterday. They played hard. We had some guys taking 60 plays. Their legs are dead. They've got to get their legs back for our next situation practice."
Link to rest of story.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SF Chronicle: Practice Update

John Crumpacker
Must be football season. I hoofed it up to Memorial Stadium yesterday and a crew was putting up the video board for the 2010 season. It's the same one that's been in use for the last several years, but this is the last season it will be used.  After the Bears play at AT&T Park in 2011, they will return to a retrofitted and gussied-up Memorial in 2012, with a new video board.  Question: where do old video boards go?
Coach Jeff Tedford had a little fun at the end of practice today, pitting the offense vs. the defense in a competition involving shooting free throws and throwing footballs through a target zone in a net.  What's next, arcade rides and cotton candy? Bring 'em on. Anything to enliven the tedium of football practice.   Although we reporters haven't been able to watch but two full practices of this fall camp, it seems clear that freshmen will play important roles for the Bears in 2010.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen and cornerback Steve Williams could end up starting while wideout Kaelin Clay and linebacker David Wilkerson are hankering for playing time.
Link to article.

Oakland Tribune: Cal Cornerback Speaks of Daughter's Battle With Cancer

Jonathan Okanes
It may not completely explain it, but the reasons for Cal cornerback Darian Hagan's disappointing 2009 season are a lot more clear.  Hagan disclosed recently that his then 1-year-old daughter, Kaiyana, battled cancer all through last season. She was diagnosed in May 2009 with Wilms' tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer that primarily affects toddlers. She had chemotherapy treatments during the season.  Kaiyana lives with her mother, Kimiye Hampton, in Los Angeles, so Hagan rarely saw his daughter as she fought the illness. Combined with the fact he was struggling to stay academically eligible and also lost his starting job, Hagan felt overwhelmed at times during 2009.
"Me being up here, I couldn't be by her side," Hagan said. "It took a toll on me. I got behind in a lot of stuff as far as school and football."  Hagan thought of quitting school and returning to Los Angeles to be by Kaiyana's side, but his mother, Pier Bruce, talked him out of it. Hagan had worked hard to remain academically eligible at Cal and was too close to getting a degree in social welfare to walk away from it.
Bruce said they took Kaiyana to the doctor after they noticed her stomach was swelling. When she was diagnosed with Wilms' tumor, it was Bruce who called Hagan to deliver the news.  "Darian was ready to give up," Bruce said. "He was yelling and screaming. He wanted to come home to be his daughter's father. I told him he didn't struggle and come this far just to give up. Kaiyana needed him to do what he was doing, to stay focused. But it kind of took over his head. I think it definitely showed in his play."
Link to rest of article.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oakland Tribune: Ex-Monte Vista High star Dave Wilkerson carries torch for Cal's depleted incoming linebacker class

Jonathan Okanes
Dave Wilkerson wants to carry the torch for Cal's fractured incoming linebacker class. It looks like he'll be carrying it sooner rather than later.  He's one of only two linebackers left in training camp out of the five who signed in February. Coach Jeff Tedford has already said Wilkerson will not redshirt and will be in the playing rotation this season.  "He's physical," Tedford said. "High school kids, when they come in, mentally, physically and emotionally have to be ready to play. The physical part of it is definitely there for him. He can do a lot of things, on special teams and on defense."
Wilkerson was rated as one of the top 10 inside linebackers in the country coming out of Monte Vista High. He was supposed to be joined at Cal by Chris Martin and Cecil Whiteside. Martin was rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the nation by scout.com but transferred to Florida before camp began. Whiteside was ranked the No. 10 outside linebacker by ESPN but is grayshirting, meaning he won't enroll at Cal until the spring.
Another recruit, Chris McCain, also is grayshirting.  "It's annoying," Wilkerson said. "We were coming in, we all talked to each other and were excited about it. We were ready to go. Everything just kind of went downhill. You can't let that faze you. You just have to play."  Wilkerson and Nick Forbes, rated the No. 2 inside linebacker nationally by rivals.com, are the only two linebackers from the class of 2010 in camp. Forbes has a good chance to play this season, as well.
Link to rest of article.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Daily Cal: Fall Camp Day 10

Jack Wang
Mychal Kendricks took a few heavy steps towards the railing, resting against it after walking up the stairs of Memorial Stadium.  Asked how he felt after the Cal football team's second double-day practice in three days, the junior linebacker gave a quick response: "Tired." He, like many players, were visibly exhausted as they entered the latter half of fall camp yesterday. And, like many, he's excited to be leaving the confines of Bowles Hall for the luxury of the Claremont Hotel in the Berkeley Hills.
"I dunno how long Cal's been doing that, but it's just part of the camp," Kendricks said of today's trip. "Get a better night's rest and sleep. I'm excited. The beds ... when we go up to the Claremont, you get a real good night's sleep."  It'll be some much deserved rest after the work the defense put in at the tail end of practice. In a red-zone drill, Kendricks harrassed backup quarterback Beau Sweeney into an incompletion and an interception by D.J. Holt. When Sweeney was switched out for Ryan Wertenberger, the latter was hit with a vicious sack by Jarred Price. It was only 10 minutes at the end of a long day, but it was still a promising sign for a defense that is adapting a new scheme.
While he wouldn't concede that the linebacker corps might be thinner this year ("Strong. We got a lot of returning guys so it should be good."), Kendricks acknowledged that they will have to rely on some more inexperienced players when the season kicks off.
Link to rest of article.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Contra Costa Times: Practice Moved to Monte Vista High

Jonathan Okanes
Never mind that the sun was shining bright over Memorial Stadium on Sunday. After negotiating through another Candlestick Park-like evening practice Saturday night, Cal coach Jeff Tedford decided to play the percentages and take his team to a place where the odds were better that the sun would shine.  The Bears moved practice Sunday to Monte Vista High-Danville, where Tedford's sons, Taylor and Quinn, once played. Quinn is currently a wide receiver at Cal.  The weather cooperated with a bright, warm afternoon. Much of training camp so far has been cold and windy in Berkeley.
"I was just really afraid that the day we would come do this it would be cold here and the hottest day of the year in Berkeley," Tedford said. "But it worked out really, really well. We got out of it what we need to get out of it."  The Bears have been hit hard by hamstring injuries during camp, and Tedford believes the cold weather is to blame. Prominent players such as running back Shane Vereen, safety Sean Cattouse, wide receiver Alex Lagemann and linebacker D.J. Holt all have missed time with hamstring problems.
Tedford said it's also important for the team to practice in different conditions, and over a week had gone by without any warm weather in Berkeley.
Link to rest of article.

Friday, August 13, 2010

SF Chronicle: Cal Players Injured in Practice

John Crumpacker


It's football, it's physical, it's completely unnatural and the dings are mounting for the Bears six practices into their fall camp, which takes place in summer but never mind.  Starting tailback Shane Vereen (hamstring) and starting fullback Will Kapp (concussion remain out. Joining them in wearing red shirts, indicating no work, were backup tailback Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson sustained a concussion on Wednesday and wide receiver Alex Lagemann came up with a sore hamstring.  "Nothing serious,'' coach Jeff Tedford proclaimed. I beg to differ that concussions are not serious, but presumably Kapp and CDeB-J will be back for the start of the season.

Link to rest of article.

Oakland Tribune: Isi Sofele makes strong run at the backup tailback job

Jonathan Okanes

Cal coach Jeff Tedford could barely get the question out of his mouth before Isi Sofele had an answer for him.  When Tedford asked him near the beginning of last season if he'd like to move from wide receiver back to his natural position of running back, Sofele took approximately two milliseconds before saying, "It's done."  Almost a year later, Sofele is emerging as a leading candidate to become Cal's No. 2 tailback behind starter Shane Vereen. "Coach Tedford called me in and asked how I would feel about playing running back," Sofele said. "I told him that's what I wanted. Now, I'm here competing for the No. 2 spot. We'll see what happens." Sofele was recruited out of Cottonwood High in Salt Lake City as a tailback. He rushed for 1,920 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior. But when he arrived in Berkeley last summer for his freshman year, Tedford asked him to switch to wide receiver to provide depth for a depleted unit.

Sofele soldiered ahead, even though he had never taken a single snap as a receiver in high school. "I just thought I would go out there and prove I was a hard worker," Sofele said. "I played absolutely zero wide receiver. I had good high school coaches that taught us the route concepts, and I understood what they were when I came here. I just wasn't that comfortable doing the wide receiver stuff." Fast forward a month. Two weeks into the season, the Bears lost running backs Kevin Lewis (academics) and

Langston Jackson (injury). Suddenly, Cal needed even more help there than at receiver.

Sofele ended up seeing limited time as a true freshman. He's now competing with Dasarte Yarnway and Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson to be the backup tailback, a position that always has meant significant playing time in Tedford's system.

Read the rest of the article here.

SF Chronicle: Jordan Brings New Intensity to Senior Year

John Crumpacker


Although he showed up for fall camp with his hair styled to resemble the curious cant of celebrated green cartoon icon Gumby, Cameron Jordan has his serious face on as he prepares for his senior football season at Cal. "I want to wreak havoc in the backfield," Jordan said. The benign and flexible Gumby, meanwhile, was not known to have wreaked any havoc in his career.   From his defensive end position in Cal's 3-4 defense, much is expected of Jordan in 2010, now that the star of the Bears' defensive line, Tyson Alualu, has moved on to the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars after posting 65 total tackles (11 1/2 for losses), 7 1/2 sacks, three passes batted down and two forced fumbles last season.

"That's a whole bunch of tackles to make up for," said Jordan, built along the lines of Weight Room Gumby at 6-foot-4 and 283 pounds. "It gives me room to step up. I'm definitely going to better my stats this year. I want to become a better defensive end." In 2009, Jordan had 48 total tackles (22 solo, 9 1/2 for losses), six sacks and one fumble recovered. As a group, Cal's defense is excited about the aggressive mandate of new coordinator Clancy Pendergast, taking over for the more cautious Bob Gregory, now at Boise State. "It's a lot more blitzing, more aggressive," Jordan said. "I'm definitely enjoying it. Blitzing four or five (players), it frees me up for one-on-one. If I get one-on-one, I'm happy. The more people you blitz, the more the offensive line has to worry about."


Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

AOL Fan House: Cal Receiver Alex Lagemann Looks to Take His Music Coast to Coast

By Michelle Smith

Alex Lagemann can't quite come up with the right words to describe the difference between running out of the tunnel at Memorial Stadium on game day and standing on the stage with a microphone in his hand, rapping in front of a few hundred party-primed college students.  "It's like two circles, you know, two different things and maybe they intersect a little bit, like a Venn Diagram," Lagemann said.  Leave it to a Cal guy to get all geometric. But it's not quite the same, the Cal wide receiver said. It's tough to compare the adrenaline and urgency of taking the field to the energy and pure "fun" of performing.

"I've got to say, there's nothing, nothing like being out on the field in front of 70,000 people," Lagemann said. "You're not going to get that as a rapper, unless you're Jay-Z."  Lagemann, a senior, started football season this weekend with the Bears opening fall training camp on Saturday, which may mean a little less time for his burgeoning career as a rap artist. Lagemann caught 12 passes for 150 yards last season. They were the first catches of his career. It might say Lagemann on the back of his jersey, but "Loggy" is the guy whose homemade mix tape turned into a college campus staple, which turned into a tour, which turned into more music, a newly released video and perhaps a future in the music business.

"Loggy" is rapping about college life. Some of it is his life, some of it is taken from his friends' lives or the things he sees at parties and on campus. Very, very little of it has to do with football. He's working hard to keep those two things separate. It's not the experience most of his fans can relate to.

Link to rest of article.

Sports Illustrated: Latest Cal Super-Sub Shane Vereen Ready to Become Leading Man

By Jordan Conn

When college recruiters visited Shane Vereen at Valencia High in the fall of 2006, most saw him as a change-of-pace speed back. The fast but undersized Vereen had the tools to make plays, scouts believed, but lacked the frame to carry a team. Cal running backs coach Ron Gould saw something different. "I was standing in the corner of the end zone, with the team on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard-line," Gould said, recalling his Friday night trip to the Southern California school. "They gave him the ball on a fly sweep, and he got hit two yards in the backfield. He fought his way out of that and then got hit again at the line of scrimmage, and he just carried a guy into the end zone."

Not exactly the performance you'd expect from scatback. "His passion and determination and commitment to get into the end zone was incredible," Gould said. "You saw his toughness right there."

Gould believed Vereen had the tools to carry a team. At the very least, Vereen had shown he had the toughness to carry the ball -- and a couple of defenders. Four years later, the veteran Bears assistant appears prophetic. After redshirting and spending most of two seasons backing up Jahvid Best, Vereen stepped into the starting role when a Nov. 7 concussion ended Best's 2009 season. During that trial run, Vereen showed he could take the pounding required of a featured back without losing the speed and elusiveness that made him so dangerous.

Vereen averaged 142 yards over the final four games of the season, including a 193-yard, three-touchdown performance in a road upset of rival Stanford in The Big Game. Against the Cardinal, Vereen outgained Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart while carrying the ball 42 times, the most of any Pac-10 running back all season.  "I didn't even realize I had carried it so much," Vereen said. "When you're in the game, in the rhythm of things, it just comes to you. You're not thinking about that. It goes by so fast. You're just playing football."  Best's NFL exodus should make things easier on observers who, for the last couple of years, struggled to tell the two Cal backs apart. Both stand 5-foot-10 and weigh about 200 pounds, and both possess sure hands, breakaway speed and deceptive toughness.

There are differences, of course. Best has run the 100 meters in 10.31 seconds. Vereen's top time is 10.4. Best has one or two more open-field moves. Vereen carries a couple weight-room reps worth of extra muscle. Best likes to look at the safeties first when he hits the hole. Vereen prefers to read the linebackers. But production-wise, Cal is confident all things are equal.

Read the rest of the article here.


Daily Cal: Fall Camp, Day 5

Jack Wang

When pads finally came on Wednesday for the first time in this fall, so too started what Cal football coach Jeff Tedford called "real football." Real as in full-on contact, as in no-holds-barred hits.  And if you're talking hits, not too many dole them out better than safety Sean Cattouse. In last September's game at Minnesota, he YouTubed Golden Gopher receiver Eric Decker with a hit that left the now-Denver Bronco struggling to get off the ground. The moment was one of the most memorable last season for a Cal secondary that ranked 111th nationally in pass defense, stumbling far short of its preseason expectations.

The Bears have brought in new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, whose schemes have -- perhaps too often, by now -- been described as "aggressive." While the front seven will be given the most dramatic makeover, the defensive backs look to benefit as well. "It really gave us a clean slate, this new defense," Cattouse said.

Cattouse, who along with senior Chris Conte are expected to start as safeties, described the new coverage schemes as "more complex," filled with more movement, disguising and blitzing. They'll hope it makes up for losing three starting defensive backs, including All-Pac-10 cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson.

Conte also must transition from being the reserve corner he's been most of his college career. "It's been easy," he said of the move. "There's a lot more you have to know. There's a lot more on the mental side, but i think football-wise it's a lot easier. The game slows down for you a lot. It allows you to be more of a football player. I like it a lot more. It's more of a natural fit for me, so I'm enjoying it."

As for facing the top-flight passing games of the Pac-10, they insist they're not worried. "I'm not even thinking (about them)," Cattouse said. " I"m just ready to go ball and whoever we got, we got. I don't even know who's supposed to be who. I could care less." Added Conte: "Man, I don't think anybody's ready for us, really. Nobody's talking about us."

Link to rest of article.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Daily Cal: Fall Camp Day 4

Ed Yevelev    

Cal coach Jeff Tedford said he thought the defensive unit has been playing faster than it did during spring practice, attributing it to increased familiarity with Clancy Pendergast's system. Still, as the Bears put on full pads for the first time on Wednesday, Tedford expects things to open up a bit for the offense. "The defense always has an advantage when you don't have pads on," he said. "There's a lot of things that happen when ... you know that there's no threat of being cut at the line of scrimmage. Tomorrow's going to be real football." One group in particular that may appreciate the shift? The running backs, whose inability to cut yesterday put them at a disadvantage while pass blocking against charging linebackers. "(Right now) we have to take everything up top," sophomore Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson said. "Once the camp goes along, we should be beating them up."

Under Pressure

If there's a game in 2009 that showed the importance of special teams, it was Cal's narrow home win against Arizona. The Bears won the game through timely kicking from Giorgio Tavecchio, while spotty kick-off coverage and a fumbled extra point attempt nearly took it away from them.  It's this sense of urgency that new special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk hopes to instill in the unit.  He has stressed "being able to perform under pressure, when there are 72,000 here, when there's a critical kick-off or PAT or field goal needs to be made in order to win a game."  Towards that end, Genyk has implemented drills where the entire team is effected by the result of special teams execution.  The team's kick-offs, which ranked 98th in the country, are one area where the stakes were raised in the offseason. During spring practices, members of both the offense and defense would form squares on opposite sides of the 10-yard line. The reward for landing kick-offs inside the squares? Less running after practice.

Monday, August 09, 2010

SF Chronicle: Cal Left Tackle Summers-Gavin Injured in Practice

John Crumpacker

Matt Summers-Gavin began Sunday's practice as Cal's starting left tackle. By the end of practice, he was on crutches, a brace covering his right knee. The sophomore from San Francisco injured the knee pulling in a noncontact drill. The extent of the injury was not immediately known. "We'll find out (today)," coach Jeff Tedford said. "We'll get him tested." Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz moved to left tackle for the remainder of practice, with Donovan Edwards taking the spot on the right side.

Defensive back Vachel Samuels injured his left foot in Saturday's practice and will have surgery next week to repair the damage. He'll be out for the season. With a tight hamstring, tailback Shane Vereen was rested for the second day, allowing younger backs to get all the work. Fullback Will Kapp was held out because of a concussion. Zach Maynard, a quarterback who transferred from the University of Buffalo, will be "grayshirted" this season as he completes his academic requirements. He'll enroll in school in the spring. Maynard is the half-brother of Cal freshman wide receiver Keenan Allen.

Daily Cal: Fall Camp Day 3, Part 2

Ed Yevelev

As Cal practiced with shells for the first time on Monday, nowhere was the contact between helmets and pads more palpable than in pass protections drills. In one of the day's most memorable sights, freshman tailback Trajuan Briggs withstood a charging David  Wilkerson and drove the 6-foot-3 linebacker right into the turf.  And then there was 5-foot-7 Isi Sofele - giving up six inches and 30 pounds against Steve Fanua, but trying his best not to give up any ground. The defender ended up getting the better of the match-up, yet Sofele remained upbeat.

"As long as I stopped him, give the quarterback a couple seconds, it's good," Sofele said. Taking punishment from pass-rushers is just another thing for him to weather while trying to leave his mark on the team - this time, at his natural position of running back. With starter Shane Vereen sitting out camp once again, Sofele is one of the players getting more chances to audition for a backup role.

"I have to open up that playbook, focus, keep studying," Sofele said of his responsibilities. "Block, run, catch, do everything."  The last part may as well be Sofele's motto, considering his year-long stint with the Bears.  After starting out last fall camp as a receiver, the Salt Lake City native worked his way onto the kick coverage unit during the season, while touching the ball on a few sweeps and reverses.  In addition to making his case in the backfield this year, Sofele - who clocked a 4.40 40 time in high school - is battling the team's speedsters for a chance to return kicks or punts.  It's competition he seems to relish, considering how long he's been fighting to prove himself.  "It took my my whole life," Sofele said. "Everybody looked at me, ever since I was young like 'oh, that kid can't play, he's too small"

Indeed, those seeing Sofele for the first time on Monday would have stared incredulously at the things he confidently talked about - running between the tackles, musing about the "next level" (read: the pros), even likening himself to Barry Sanders.  "My specialty is to make guys miss," he said. Miss tackles? Certainly. Miss his determination and effort? Unlikely.

Daily Cal: Fall Camp Day 3

Jack Wang

When Matt Summers-Gavin ended Sunday's practice in braces and crutches after a knee injury, it put a few people on edge.  "Anytime you see something like that, you just hold your breath," coach Jeff Tedford said after Monday's practice, the team's first in shells.  Fortunately for the Cal football team, its best offensive lineman will only be out for two weeks after an MRI diagnosed the injury as a bone bruise.  But when he does return to Memorial Stadium for the season opener against UC Davis on, the sophomore won't be returning to the left tackle spot he saw in spring. Instead, junior Mitchell Schwartz will reprise the role he frequented in 2008.  Senior Donovan Edwards is expected to step into right tackle, while the rest of the line is still unsettled. "We got a lot of guys in the mix," Tedford said. "Very competitive to find out who's going to be the top eight guys."

Fresh Catches

Five-star recruit Keenan Allen has been expected to step in right away, and his transition has gone well through the first three days of practice. Running mostly sideline routes on Monday, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound freshman used his length to make grabs over defenders, his movements looking natural and smooth early on in practice.

So much that Tedford has backtracked on his comments in spring that Allen would also see reps in nickel formations; the player tabbed by Rivals.com as the top safety in his class will stick to offense throughout fall camp.  "I've actually talked to the coach about it," Allen said. "First they want me to learn all the receiver stuff, get it down, dominate it, and then they're gonna look at me at the nickel.

Added Tedford: "Keenan's got enough to handle right now."