Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Contra Costa Times: Cal Football Will Enter Fall With No Hype but High Hopes

Jonathan Okanes

Cal's football team wrapped up spring practice Thursday afternoon, eager to return to the field in the fall and begin the unfamiliar process of silencing its critics.  For the first time in several years, not much will be expected of the Bears when the 2010 season begins. They have not lived up to immense expectations in two of the past three seasons, and prognosticators likely are leery of thinking much of the Bears again.   "Every year my class has been here we've usually been ranked pretty high," fifth-year quarterback Kevin Riley said. "This is the first time it won't be like that. We need to do something to do better. The team has taken it upon themselves to work harder and get better."

In a very competitive spring in which almost no positions were settled, Riley said Cal players worked harder than in any spring since he's been in Berkeley. That includes Riley himself. He put in extra work after almost every practice.  Even though Riley has been the Bears' primary starting quarterback in each of the past two seasons, coach Jeff Tedford says Riley's spot is not a sure thing and that he will continue to compete with Beau Sweeney and Brock Mansion in the fall.

"It's different than it has been in the past with people working and willing to get better," Riley said. "In spring football, I've never seen this many people come in after practice and watch film. People have a chip on their shoulder. When people talk, they're not talking about us. They're talking about other teams. We know we can be a good team, and we're just working our hardest to get there."

Read the rest here.

SF Chronicle: Kicking Game Springing to Life

John Crumpacker


As a new coach to Cal, special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk spent his allotted 15 spring practices getting to know who and what he has. Genyk, most recently head coach at Eastern Michigan, devised end-of-practice drills that put pressure on his specialists and let the rest of the team realize how important this aspect of the game really is.  In the final spring practice Thursday, Genyk had punter Bryan Anger aim a half-dozen boots at a box of players lined up 10 yards square, 50 yards down field.

With one fewer wind sprint for the entire team hanging on each punt, Anger dropped five balls in the box on either hash mark. One shank ruined a perfect effort.  "From a special teams aspect, we really emphasized the aspect of pressure to the importance of a winning football program," Genyk said. "We emphasized the idea of performing under pressure for the specialists. It really helped convey to the team the importance of specialists to their lives, as far as winning games or not running sprints."

Indeed, each ball Anger dropped into the box was met with cheers from teammates, happy to escape gassers on the final day of spring drills.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lions trade into first round, take California running back Jahvid Best

The Lions didn't let the first round go by without doing more than just taking Ndamukong Suh.  Detroit traded with the Vikings for the No. 30 pick in the first round and then took California running back Jahvid Best. The Lions also got the Vikings' fourth-round pick (No. 128 overall) and gave Minnesota its second-round pick (No. 34), fourth-round selection (No. 100) and one of the seventh rounders (No. 214). Best, 5-foot-10 and 199 pounds, ran for 867 yards and 12 touchdowns last season before he was knocked out with a concussion on Nov. 7. He missed the final four games.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cal QB Riley relishes competition for job

California quarterback Kevin Riley believes having to fight to retain his starting job will only make him better.  Riley started all 13 games in 2009 as a junior and is 17-6 for the Bears, but he's competing this spring with Beau Sweeney and Brock Mansion for the starting job in 2010, a battle that likely won't end until the fall. "It makes you work harder," Riley said after California's controlled scrimmage Saturday. "For my last year, I want it to be the best year of my life." Riley is clearly the front-runner in the competition as Cal approaches its final two spring football practices, Tuesday and Thursday. He threw for 2,850 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2009 with just eight interceptions.

Sweeney threw just nine passes as a freshman, completing five for 45 yards. Mansion, who's sidelined with an injured foot and will undergo an MRI, threw only one pass as a sophomore, an incompletion.

On Saturday, Riley completed seven of his first eight passes for 86 yards, directing Cal's No. 1 offense against its No. 1 defense. For the day, he was 10 for 15 for 110 yards. Sweeney finished 5 for 14 for 94 yards and a touchdown, a 64-yard completion to wide receiver Marvin Jones.

Link to rest of article.


SF Examiner: Offense finds plenty of success on Cal Day

The Alabama Crimson Tide drew over 91,000 fans for their annual A-Day -- the Golden Bears may have drawn 91 Saturday. I may be underestimating that figure, but I think you get the point.  Despite the fact that Cal's one and only public practice of the spring didn't bring Bear Backers into Memorial Stadium in bunches, the squad was able to put on a good show for those that did attend.  There was very little Shane Vereen or Mike Mohamed, no Mitchell Schwartz or Darian Hagan, but there was quite a bit of Kevin Riley and Beau Sweeney slinging passes and handing off to the likes of Isi Sofele.

Cal's offense played much better on the day, but they still suffered through a few fumbles. There were two fumbles on the snap and one fumble on a hand off exchange, but those mistakes happen when you have different players working together in order to give the coaching staff good looks at everyone.

Link to rest of article.

Contra Costa Times: Cal receiver from Saratoga gaining popularity as rapper

Line up all 94 players on Cal's spring roster, and Alex Lagemann would be one of the last ones pegged as a budding rapper.  The wide receiver from upper-class Saratoga can't exactly freestyle about the rough streets of the inner city or the problems facing the underprivileged.  But what the 20-year-old does have is a flair for the creative, and he has parlayed it into a growing sensation on college campuses on the West Coast. Lagemann raps about the life he knows under the name of "Loggy."

"When you hear about a rapper, you don't really picture a dude like me," Lagemann said. "If I were coming out talking about having a gun in my pocket, people would be like, 'Dude, are you kidding me?' But I'm talking about riding a beach cruiser on spring break, stuff that I actually do. So as long as I'm being truthful and real, I think it's fine."

Lagemann, a Pacific-10 Conference all-academic first-team selection last season, was simply a creative, industrious college kid doing something he enjoys in his free time. But in just a few months, Loggy has become a rising star in the college community. In January, he released a mixtape called "Up All Night," which he recorded using a simple Web site on his laptop. He put it on his social networking pages and asked his friends to spread the word. In five days, the mixtape had been downloaded 2,000 times.

Link to rest of article.


Note from blogger: Here’s a link to “We Run LA Remix” on Youtube, where you can find this lyric: “Yeah I smoke weed but I never do blow.” 

SF Chronicle: QB Riley Looks Like Starter; Backups OK


Though Kevin Riley certainly seemed to secure the starting quarterback job for California this fall with his performance in Saturday's 83-play controlled scrimmage, his coach threw a bone to the other two QBs by saying the Bears could win games with either Beau Sweeney or Brock Mansion.  If it was a ploy to keep Riley stepping lively, it worked. "It makes you work harder," Riley said after Cal's last scrimmage of the spring. "It's my last year. I want it to be the best year of my life."

That's what Jeff Tedford wants to hear, and Riley's play was (more or less) what the coach wanted to see. Riley was in for 40 plays and completed 11 of 16 passes for 126 yards, although he did have two fumbles, losing one. "I thought he did a pretty nice job," Tedford said. "He was pretty accurate with all the balls. He scrambled and made plays with his legs." Sophomore Sweeney hit on 5 of his 14 passes for 91 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown to wide receiver Marvin Jones.

Link to rest of article.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Former Cal Running Back Slocum Now a Walk-on at Fresno State

Fresno Bee

Tracy Slocum graduated from Clovis East High in 2006 as a top-20 running back recruit nationally and took off to play for Cal.  The Bee's 2004 Player of the Year is now back in town, hoping to walk on at Fresno State. "Hopefully, I can have a huge impact; that's the goal," Slocum said. "That's why I'm working so hard. You know, it's my last go-around. Of course I'm going to give it my all ... but we'll have to see."  Slocum has been accepted into Fresno State as a student this fall and is taking courses online and at a local junior college. He needs to have about 96 units completed -- including courses he took in previous years-- to be eligible to play as a senior this fall, and is waiting to hear back from Fresno State as to whether he'll be able to reach that level.

Until then, Bulldogs coaches aren't saying much about his future with the team.  While being back in football would be grand, he said his main goal is continuing his education and putting himself in position to take care of his family, including two children, via that education or through football. Slocum said he'd like to take football as far as he can.  "I could have easily quit [football] and went to school," he said. "But to not even try, I would have regrets."  Slocum said "bad decision making" led to his departure from Cal. He was suspended for the Bears' bowl game in December 2008 and dismissed early the next year.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford called Slocum "a good kid," but "through the development process and maturation process here, there were a series of violations of team rules that ended up forcing us to release him."  The final straw leading to the suspension, Tedford said, was Slocum missing two MRIs. The checkups were to see whether he had a fracture; he had a history of that injury in high school.

Slocum said he missed the appointments because he was "going through it." Being away from family depressed him, the tough academic schedule wore on him, and he wasn't getting much playing time. "All of that stuff added up," he said.  Said Tedford: "I released him from the team and told him he could come back if he made sure nothing happened. Then he got in a fight in a party. We had to release him, we had no choice. ... I hated to do it because I really liked Tracy."   When Cal dismissed Slocum from the team, he was lost.   "Being a Cal football player was my life," he said. "Once that was taken away, I had to sit back and look at everything and kind of be around my family and appreciate life and appreciate everything I'm blessed with because sometimes you don't get that second opportunity. It was tough. It was tough."  But it was a learning experience that may have benefited him in the long run. Clovis East coach Tim Murphy said his former running back "is a completely different person."

"He's come a long way," Murphy said. "He's definitely seen the light and is definitely doing the right things."  Slocum, 22, agreed.  "I've grown up a lot," he said. "I'm not a kid anymore. I know what I want, and it's time for me to go handle my business. I'm a lot older and, I can say, smarter."  Slocum has been lifting weights twice a day and also running every day since last fall. He said he's added muscle and weighs 207 pounds, more than the 185 he weighed in high school and the 198 at Cal. Tedford said Slocum had the bad fortune of playing behind future NFL players Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett and soon-to-be draft pick Jahvid Best. Slocum had 22 carries for 125 yards and one touchdown in 2008. In 2007, he played only special teams. He redshirted in 2006.  The way Tedford described Slocum, he could be a player Fresno State coach Pat Hill loves. Tedford said Slocum is tough, hard-nosed and very competitive and added that he's a good blocker, a good runner and catches the ball well.  He said Slocum "was a great special-teams player for us as well." If Slocum is eligible, he'll compete with Robbie Rouse, Michael Harris, A.J. Ellis and incoming freshman E.J. Schexnayder at the running back position.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SF Examiner: Unfair Criticism a Factor in Change to Cal Staff

By Glenn Dickey

There are two significant changes in the Cal Bears football coaching staff for 2010. Bob Gregory has left as defensive coordinator and Pete Alomar is out as special teams coach. Alomar’s departure is understandable, but it has been Gregory’s departure that has caused the most speculation, as well as outbursts of joy from many Cal followers.  “Everyone wants to make it some kind of back-room decision, like he was forced out,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford told me after a recent spring practice, “but it wasn’t that at all. I was totally surprised when he walked into my office and said he wanted to leave.”

Gregory took a step backward by returning to Boise State as a defensive assistant. He had been defensive coordinator there in 2001 before being hired by Tedford.  “He wanted to change his life,” said Tedford. “At one time, he wanted to be a head coach and he thought being a coordinator would be a stepping stone, but I think he’s decided he wants to spend more time with his family.  “And to be honest, I think the criticism he got last year might have played into it.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Golden Bears to Hold Open Practice on Cal Day Saturday, April 17, 2010


The Cal football team will hold an open practice presented by Peterson Tractor at Memorial Stadium as part of Cal Day festivities on campus Saturday, Apr. 17. The general public will have the rare opportunity to take in one of the team's workouts and watch a scrimmage. All fans are asked to enter from the North Tunnel. Gates open at 9 a.m. PT and admission is free.  "This is a great opportunity for both our fans and our players," said head coach Jeff Tedford. "It gives some of our young guys the chance to play in front of fans, which will create more of a game-like experience. Our fans will have a chance to see some of our younger guys in action that they haven't seen much to this point."

Information on the 2010 Cal football season, including souvenir roster posters and schedule cards will be available. Cal football fans will also be able to renew or purchase their 2010 football season tickets at the event, as well as view seat locations.   Cal opens its 2010 season vs. UC Davis on Saturday, Sept. 4. The upcoming campaign will be the final season with the current configuration of Memorial Stadium and also includes visits from Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Washington during a seven-game home schedule.  Parking on campus is free all day on Apr. 17 but expected to be limited due to the events of Cal Day. Fans are encouraged to use public transportation.

The Cal Athletics clothing and shoe surplus sale, traditionally held in conjunction with the annual open practice each spring, will take place the following Saturday this year at Memorial Stadium on Apr. 24 (8 - 11 a.m. PT).


SF Chronicle: Super-experienced coach has rapt audience in Bears

Even by the nomadic standards of his profession, the year that new California defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast just had qualifies him to wear a burnoose and travel by camel.  He has been on the move over the shifting sands of his fickle vocation.  A defensive football coach by trade, the 42-year-old was a hand-hold short of reaching the pinnacle of his sport when the Arizona Cardinals lost to Pittsburgh in the final seconds of the Super Bowl 14 months ago.

Days later, on Feb. 6, 2009, he was fired by the Cardinals as their defensive coordinator - blamed, apparently, for Ben Roethlisberger's perfect pass and Santonio Holmes' un-defendable catch for the winning touchdown.  Little more than a month later, on March 13, Pendergast was hired as defensive coordinator by the Kansas City Chiefs ... only to be fired after one season on Jan. 14 of this year to make room for Romeo Crennel in the same job.  The Raiders threw a lifeline to Pendergast on Feb. 6 when they hired him as a defensive assistant. That lasted all of a dozen days before Jeff Tedford came calling a day after his defensive coordinator at Cal, Bob Gregory, unexpectedly left for a job at Boise State.  Pendergast's hectic year speaks to the vagaries of the coaching profession and how one man's career move can impact another's.

Link to rest of article.

Monday, April 12, 2010

SF Examiner: Mitchell Schwartz Will Start in 2010

Rob Calonge

Cal's offensive line is undergoing another transformation this offseason even though the only starter from 2009 who left was Mike Tepper. That's how important the role of a left tackle is. The two frontrunners for that job is Matt Summers-Gavin, who started at left guard last season, or Mitchell Schwartz, who was the starting right tackle.

Schwartz also started at left tackle 10 games in 2008, which helps put him in good shape of doing it again in 2010. Listed at 6'6" and 331 pounds, Schwartz is the prototypical size for the left tackle position. Summers-Gavin, who also has the talent to perform at a high level as a left tackle, is just 6'4" and 290 pounds in comparison --  a size better suited to the right tackle spot or the guard position he held in 2009.  What's great for Cal, either player can play on the right or left, and that can only make the offensive line better this coming season. Talking with Cal's offensive line coach Jim Marshall on Saturday, I asked if Cal had a player on the line that Bear Backers could count on starting this season.

"Schwartz will start somewhere," said Marshall before continuing with a chuckle. "I don't know where, but probably Schwartz and Chris Guarnero is a senior kid that played center for us. He's an undersized guy, but he plays hard." Guarnero, listed at 6'2" and 281 pounds is slotted to play center again in 2010 and judging by his '09 performance, it would be surprising to not see him crouched over the ball when Cal's offense takes the field against UC Davis on September 4.

As far as the offensive line having their struggles this spring, Marshall isn't worried. Spring practice is a tool for him to get all of his linemen live action rep's and he's been moving linemen around in order to see how they fit. This discontinuity is what leads to the defense being farther ahead every year at this time. Marshall's biggest concern is, "to get the best five guys at the best five positions."

With summer camp coming up in August, it's important to remember that even though a player looks to be a sure thing in April, nothing is certain. Marshall was sure to mention that as well. After mentioning Schwartz and Guarnero, he quickly paused the discussion to say, "We'll see. I don't want to...I don't know yet, but I like what I see so far."  Whoever starts for the Golden Bears in 2010, the only thing that anyone cares about is that the line can open holes for Shane Vereen and protect quarterback Kevin Riley -- a task that hasn't been consistent over the last two seasons.

Link to rest of article.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Contra Costa Times: Cal spring practice: former backups stepping up

Jonathan Okanes

Much of the focus of Cal's spring practice is on former scout team players who are finally getting reps with the real offense and defense. But it's two guys who saw game-action last year who could be changing the depth chart.      Sophomore nose tackle Kendrick Payne and senior linebacker Jarred Price are currently getting first team reps after previously playing backup roles. Payne had a terrific day at Saturday's practice and appears on his way to seriously challenging incumbent Derrick Hill for a starting role.

"He's right there in the mix to start," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He's played really, really well."  Payne played in Cal's first two games as a true freshman before a knee injury ended his season. He ended up redshirting and came back as a key reserve last year, although he was limited by a foot injury.  "Everybody wants to start, but me, Aaron Tipoti and D-Hill could all start and do just as well," Payne said. "We can take somebody out and put somebody in and be just as good."  Price came to Cal last season as a transfer from Blinn College in Dallas and was used strictly as a third down pass rusher. New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's philosophy calls for a more attacking style, and Price's skills are more suited for him to play on all downs. "The defense Coach P. brought in is more aggressive," Price said. "It's kind of like what we ran at Blinn. It's like second nature to me. Right now, I'm with the (first team). Hopefully I can carry that over into fall camp."

Link to rest of article.

SF Examiner: Tedford pleased with spring practice work ethic

By Rob Calonge

California has given access to four practices this spring for media consumption. The first one, March 11, I was in L.A. covering the men's and women's basketball Pac-10 tourney. I nearly missed today's second sampling of returning players while hanging around Haas Pavilion after the women's basketball team took home the WNIT championship.

Lucky for me, I was able to get over to Memorial Stadium and catch most of Cal's football practice. Cal was hosting their 2010 Cal Football High School Coaches Clinic, so the sidelines were full of coaches viewing how practices are run in Berkeley.

What stood out the most during practice was Cal's defense. It would be unjust to the offense to say that their defensive counterparts were mauling them throughout the day, but the defense looked a lot better on Saturday. "You always have mixed emotions as a head coach," said Jeff Tedford with a smile. "You look great on defense, but wow, concerned on offense."

All in all, Tedford said he's happy with the team's attitude and work ethic, even if he isn't always happy with some of the results. "We have a lot of work to do though, in all areas. But, they're real focused on what they're doing, so I'm real pleased about their attitude," said Cal's head coach.

Link to rest of article.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

SF Chronicle: UC Sport Center's Financing Questioned

SF Chronicle/David “Corky” Downs


This spring, workers poured the concrete floors for a 142,000-square-foot, four-story Student Athlete High Performance Center that will house lockers for the UC football team and meeting rooms adjacent to seismically unstable Memorial Stadium.   The project is being paid for with $135 million in bonds. Campus financial officials planned to pay off those bonds with donations. The university is confident the funding goals will be met, but if not, UC Berkeley's department of intercollegiate athletics could be responsible for paying off the center's bonds. There's a problem, though. The department has no money and last year it had to be loaned millions of dollars from campus general funds.  Intercollegiate athletics is supposed to be self-supporting. But instead it is relying on the campus for millions of dollars of funding, and that comes at the expense of the financially beleaguered academic programs, said Brian Barsky, UC Berkeley computer science professor and a critic of university spending decisions. With the athletics department already heavily subsidized, Barsky doesn't see how it can pay off its staggering future debts. The university will have to bail out Athletics again, Barsky said.

"If it were happening in a normal time, it would be egregious, but given that this is happening in the context of record cuts to our academic program, it's unconscionable," Barsky said.

Read the rest of this garbage here.

2010 Cal Football Spring Scrimmage

This year’s California Golden Bears Spring scrimmage is on April 17th from noon to 2 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.  It’s open to the public, and free.  I was planning on broadcasting it live on this website using uBroadcast on my iPhone, but my 6 year has a t-ball game that day so I can’t make it.  I’ve gone in the past and it’s a good time.

Contra Costa Times: Cal football notebook: Bears seek backup tailback

Cal coach Jeff Tedford always has made a point of giving his backup running back significant playing time. And going into each season, it always seemed obvious who that No. 2 tailback would be. Justin Forsett was there to back up Marshawn Lynch. Jahvid Best was the guy to spell Forsett. And for the past two seasons, Shane Vereen was the clear-cut backup to Best.  With Best off to the NFL, Vereen now becomes the Bears starter. But what isn't clear for the first time in years is who will be the first tailback off the bench when Vereen needs a break.  "It's definitely Shane, and (then) we don't know," Tedford said. "It's always been a pretty clear-cut top two. Now, we know that Shane is our starting tailback. There's a lot of evaluation that needs to happen with three or four more guys. There are more unknowns with the depth that we've had before."  The uncertainty at the backup spot isn't because of a lack of talent. In fact, Tedford and running backs coach Ron Gould have the opposite problem. With sophomores Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson and Isi Sofele, redshirt freshman Dasarte Yarnway and true freshman Trajuan Briggs, Cal may have more quality depth at tailback than it has had in years.

"I feel like everybody has a chance," Yarnway said. "It's just a matter of what you do with that opportunity. It's about working hard every day."  DeBoskie-Johnson figures to be the next in line because of seniority. He saw minimal time as Vereen's backup last season after Best suffered a season-ending injury. But DeBoskie-Johnson had surgery on his right wrist in January and is practicing this spring with a cast.

Link to rest of article.

SF Chronicle: Spring ball safer than spring break?

After his players returned from spring break to resume spring practice Tuesday, Cal coach Jeff Tedford noted wryly that some of the young men were more injured than when they left.  Specifically, one player returned with a concussion from snowboarding and another limped home from a beach-volleyball injury. One player managed to escape injury while surfing on Hawaii's North Shore.  With the first game more than five months away, Tedford could afford to be amused rather than concerned about the pitfalls of college students on spring break. With only four practices held before the break, the players are Tedford's now until the final spring practice April 22. By the time they're done, the Bears will have had 15 practices over six weeks, including eight days in full pads and scrimmages on April 10 and 17. "I'd prefer to be spread out because it gives you more time," Tedford said. "You have 34 days (in spring) to spend with the kids. It gives you more time to spend with them. It lets you recover and heal. There've been times when we concentrated (spring practice) and we'd get more injuries and have to adjust practice."

Link to rest of story.