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 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, 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 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."

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Daily Cal: Fall Camp Day 2

Katie Dowd

Jeff Tedford doesn't exactly have a reputation for being relaxed and carefree, but it's become something of a mission for the ninth-year head coach to lighten up in practice this season.  And, two days into fall camp, it already seems to be working.  "I think at times (the team was) tightening up," quarterback Kevin Riley. "If they messed up, they were going to get yelled at, get chewed out, and they'd be down the rest of practice.  "Now if you mess up, it's like, 'Hey, don't do that. Learn from it. Go on to the next play and learn from it later.'"  According to Riley, when the Bears fell behind in games last season, they tended to force plays and press too hard. This time around, they're working on a team culture of hard work tempered with a larger-than-years-past dose of fun.

"We've got a great group of kids who have worked hard all summer, all spring, and you don't want to push them to where they're not having fun playing football," he said. "(The coaches) learned that from previous experience just by looking at people's faces."

Daily Cal: Fall Camp, Day 1

Ed Yevelev    

Cal's first fall practice ended up running over schedule, meaning that interviews with players were cancelled because they would have cut into post-workout activities.  The main reason for the delay was the team's new location for showering and dressing up - located past Memorial Stadium and near Witter Field - as a result of stadium construction.  "To have to go there and then go back, there's a lot of back and forth with it," coach Jeff Tedford said after practice.

"So our timetable is very tight right now. That's why we're sending the players in a hurry up because they have to get up, get treatment, get a shower, get back and eat dinner, and be ready in an hour and 15 minutes for a team meeting."  The rest of the helmets-only session went smoothly and predictably - which, from the standpoint of the Bears' receivers, meant that Marvin Jones was catching everything in his sight.  Whether he was leaping in the air for rainbows from Kevin Riley or tracking down passes over his shoulder, the junior wide-out made every grab seem routine. "Marvin's the same old Marvin," coach Jeff Tedford said after practice. "You know what you're gonna get .. He's very solid. The thing about Marvin, he's a great leader so he's taken these young guys under his wing and spending time with those guys."  As was expected after Signing Day, Keenan Allen was one of those new pass-catchers at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

A touted high school safety, the 6-foot-3 Allen took all of his reps with the wide receivers during the first practice, showing smooth strides and looking very comfortable catching the football.  "He's a really good looking player,"Tedford said. "He's got great range, he's physical."  Allen also took some time to catch simulated punts from the JUGS football machine.  He was joined at the machine by Bears' four other receiving recruits: Kaelin Clay, Terrance Montgomery, Tevin Carter, and Coleman Emond.

Running back Isi Sofele also fielded the mock kicks, along with defensive backs Josh Hill, Darian Hagan, and Steve Williams.

SF Chronicle: Star Recruit Expected to Excel on Both Sides

John Crumpacker

Before he had so much as broken a sweat in his first college football practice, wide receiver Keenan Allen already had his coach's attention.  That's what five-star recruits are supposed to do. In the parlance of high school recruiting, Allen was known as an "athlete," part fish, part fowl and capable of traveling by land as well. Cal coach Jeff Tedford is hoping the freshman from North Carolina will help the Bears on both sides of the ball.

In Cal's first practice of fall camp late Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium, Allen wore a white 21 jersey, meaning he was on offense. However, it's likely Allen will also see some time playing in the defensive secondary as a safety or nickel back.

San Jose Mercury: One day in, Tedford sees reason for optimism

Jonathan Okanes

Cal coach Jeff Tedford got an in-person look at the future of his receiving corps for the first time Saturday and was cautiously optimistic after one day of training camp.  "It was really nice to see those guys run around a little bit," Tedford said after the first practice of the 2010 season. "For a young group, you can tell they have some ability. But it's going to be a process, of course."

There are five receivers in Cal's 2010 recruiting class, and the coaches got to see them for the first time other than on film Saturday. The wide receivers have been in Berkeley working out all summer, but the coaching staff isn't permitted by the NCAA to watch.  Keenan Allen from Greensboro, N.C., one of the nation's top recruits, headlines the group. Long Beach Poly product Kaelin Clay, Pierce College transfer Coleman Edmond and Tevin Carter of Los Angeles all had good first days. Terrance Montgomery, also of Los Angeles, rounds out the group. "It was everything we saw on film," Tedford said. "There's a lot of potential there, but it's a long process. There's going to come a point where there is a little overload mentally. That's mainly what you fight. It's the learning curve to get the new guys in the loop."

Saturday, August 07, 2010

ESPN Pac-10 Blog: Opening Camp for Cal

California opens preseason camp today. Here's a quick look.

Who's back: Eight starters on offense, six on defense and both specialists.

Big names: RB Shane Vereen, LB Mike Mohamed, DE Cameron Jordan, P Bryan Anger

What's new: Bob Gregory, who had been Jeff Tedford's defensive coordinator since 2002, left for Boise State, and NFL veteran Clancy Pendergast replaced him. Pendergast is expected to bring a more aggressive approach that emphasizes pressure on the quarterback. Also, Jeff Genyk replaced Pete Alamar as special teams coach. Genyk will also coach tight ends.

Key competition: Three spots in the secondary beside safety Sean Cattouse are wide open, though Bryant Nnabuife and Darian Hagan are listed first at the corners and Chris Conte is No. 1 at safety. Things also are unclear at outside linebacker, left offensive guard and a pecking order at tailback behind Vereen must be established. Will any young receivers step up?

Breaking out: Is Marvin Jones ready to become a go-to receivers? And will touted freshman receiver Keenan Allen make an immediate impact and perhaps also play in the secondary? Kendrick Payne and Deandre Coleman figure to provide some quality depth on what could be a very good defensive line.

Quote: Tedford on quarterback Kevin Riley: "We are going to have great competition at the quarterback position, but Kevin is the guy who takes the first snaps. Kevin is the active leader in the Pac-10 in wins, touchdown passes and starts. We are really hoping that his experience will really help us and translate to more success on the football field. The team has a lot of confidence in him. He has worked very, very hard and he feels that this is his team."

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Cal's Tedford Appears Complacent


What I’m about to tell you is the truth. I pinkie swear.  It was the Bay Area College Football Media Day at a downtown San Francisco hotel — Cal, Stanford, San Jose State. They put Cal coach Jeff Tedford at his own table crammed with reporters. He was at ease. He talked about going to New York and promoting the Pac-10. He even visited the New York Times.  After a while I said, “Jeff, do you have anything to prove?” To which Tedford replied, “No. I don’t look at it that way.”

He didn’t just say “No.” He declared “No.” He blasted “No.” It’s like he was saying, “Me, Jeff Tedford have something to prove? Hell, no.”   All respect to Tedford, who resurrected the Golden Bears’ moribund football program. But everyone has something to prove. Every day he wakes up, President Obama needs to prove he’s an effective president who can deal with our economy and win that war in Afghanistan. Tedford, who earns millions every year, has nothing to prove? He may be the only football coach in America — the only employed person — with nothing left to prove.  When I asked if he has something prove, he could have thought — should have thought — this reporter is raising a tough topic; but he’s giving me a chance to preempt him.

Read the rest here.

SF Chronicle: Tedford Pledges to Make Football Fun for Cal

John Crumpacker


Here's a news flash from Cal coach Jeff Tedford as he's about to begin his ninth season in Berkeley:

He's going to lighten up in 2010 and have a little fun while coaching the Golden Bears. Who knows, he might even try a little stand-up comedy on the Memorial Stadium field while his team begins practices Saturday. Er, check that.  Not exactly a Mr. Chuckles of the coaching profession, Tedford revealed during a news conference Monday the toll that the 2009 season took on him.

"We need to have some fun. I have to change my attitude, too, and make sure we're having fun," he said. "I tend to stress out. I need to lighten up. I want to make it a priority to make sure to keep that in mind."  With expectations a year ago for an upper-tier team and a Heisman Trophy-worthy player in Jahvid Best, the Bears instead finished 8-5, were routed in three Pac-10 games and lost to Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl, which no one refers to as "the granddaddy of them all."

Read the rest here.

Cal Picked to Finish Seventh in Pac-10

The media that cover the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) picked the Bears to finish seventh in the Pac-10 (not including the two newest additions).

1. Oregon (15) 314

2. USC (12) 311

3. Oregon State (3) 262

4. Stanford (1) 233

5. Arizona (2) 222

6. Washington (1) 209

7. Cal 175

8. UCLA (1) 134

9. Arizona State 81

10. Washington State 39