Will Ta’ufo’ou is suited up and looks ready to play. Marcus Ezeff will not dress and will not play. Bernard Hicks will start at rover.
Greetings, all. First of all, if anyone didn’t see the posts during the past few days called “Thursday follow-up” and “Uncertainty”, let me know with a comment. There may be a technical problem.
Well, we’re just over an hour away from kickoff and the good news for the Bears is quarterback Nate Longshore tested his sprained left ankle a little while ago and looked good. He practiced dropping back, planting, and throwing, and didnt’ seem to be bothered at all. His passes were crisp and didn’t appear to be favoring the leg or tentative. Looks like he’s good to go to start.
I’ll give you an update on some of the other questionable guys — Will Ta’ufo’ou and Marcus Ezeff — when I can.
Up until now, I had been convinced that Nate Longshore would be ready to go Saturday. Now, I’m not so sure.
Longshore took his first reps in practice Thursday since spraining his left ankle in the Bears’ last game at Oregon. But coach Jeff Tedford said afterward that his availability would be a gametime decision, something he hadn’t said before.
“We’ll see,” Tedford said. “I really have no idea.”
Since spraining his ankle, Tedford had maintained all along that the Bears would simply hold Longshore out of practice to make sure there was no setback, but he would play in the game. But Longshore still is moving around rather gingerly, although he was able to plant and push off on the left foot without incident while making passes.
For the record, Longshore still plans on playing.
Tedford said the Bears will evaluate his pain tolerance and mobility before making a decision before Saturday’s game against Oregon State. If he does play, Longshore will need to keep the ankle warm on the sideline by riding a bike or moving around to prevent swelling.
Obviously, if Longshore can’t go, Kevin Riley will get the start. Riley again took the majority of reps Thursday and now has practiced with the first team for the better part of two weeks.
If it is indeed Riley, he will be tested immediately. Oregon St. enters the weekend tied for second in the nation with 26 sacks.
Other injury updates: Rover Marcus Ezeff again did not practice because of a strained quad and also is a gametime decision. Fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou (knee) is questionable.
Here are a few links to some stories from the OSU media:
–The Oregonian writes about cornerback Tim Clark, making his first career start in place of injured Keenan Lewis, being matched up against DeSean Jackson.
–The Corvallis Gazette Times has a story on middle linebacker Alan Darlin
–The Gazette Times also has a story on wide receiver/kick returner Sammie Stroughter being out for the season with a kidney injury.
I’ve had a few fans ask about tickets for Saturday’s game. There are tickets still available by calling 1-800-GOBEARS or at calbears.com. Since the USC game is already sold out, there really are only two home games left for fans to see — this Saturday and Nov. 3 against Washington State.
Jeff Tedford was very happy with how the Bears practiced on Wednesday. It seems the bye week may have been refreshing. I asked Tedford how much it helps to have the players just get away from football for a few days. A lot of players go home or take trips for the weekend.
“When you have a bye, I think it’s important that they’re able to get away, go home, watch their high school play or whatever it is,” he said. “Just get mentally refreshed. It doesn’t take long to get their minds back on what they’re doing.”
–Linebacker Zack Follett was flying all over the field on Wednesday. He’s gotta be champing at the bit to get back in there after missing the past two games.
–Tedford said he may have quarterback Nate Longshore do a little more in practice today. Longshore has just been participating in the mental side of practice since suffering a sprained ankle against Oregon. I asked Tedford how much Longshore would have to test out the ankle before Saturday’s game against Oregon State.
“It’s getting better every day,” Tedford said. “We just don’t want to have a setback. He’s taken every mental rep. He’s calling every play. He’s staying ready.”
–If wide receiver Robert Jordan has a catch Saturday, it will mark his 36th straight game with at least one, tying the Cal record set by Brian Treggs. Jordan’s value to the team gets lost sometimes because of the high-profile seasons DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins are having.
“Rob runs the best routes on the team,” Hawkins said. “I don’t think Rob gets as much love as he’s supposed to get. Rob’s the real deal. He just doesn’t get a lot of balls sometimes.”
–Hawkins usually has the media roaring at Cal’s weekly press luncheons, and this week’s was no different.
On Longshore: “Every time Nate throws the ball, Nate just stands there and looks. No, man, get out of the way. Fall down or something.”
On how backup QB Kevin Riley looked last week taking first team reps: “To be honest with you, I didn’t even know he was in. The ball was looking good, though.”
On playing different positions: “If they let me play defensive end, I’ll do it. No problem. I’ll get (a lot of) sacks.”
–Of Cal’s five opponents this season, four have either ran the no-huddle or spread offense. The Bears’ defense will finally see a more traditional offense Saturday against Oregon State. Or will they?
“I’m prepared to see them run the no-huddle,” linebacker Worrell Williams said. “I bet they’re watching just like everybody else is watching. They might think they can get a little something on us in the no-huddle.
“But it seems like they’re a here-it-is-come-get-it type offense. So that will be fun.”
It might be a strange sensation for the Bears not to have to frantically get players on and off the field on defense, or be able to take their time lining up for a play.
“It’s a little harder to go against the spread offense and the no-huddle offense,” free safety Thomas DeCoud said. “It’s going to be a good change for us to get back to a team that runs a more traditional kind of offense. It’s going to feel a little slow actually on Saturday.”
Here’s a quick update after practice tonight. I’ll have a lot more tomorrow.
–One significant development is that rover Marcus Ezeff missed practice because of a strained quad. Coach Jeff Tedford didn’t know if Ezeff would be able to play Saturday. Of course, Ezeff had one of the most memorable plays in school history when he forced the fumble by Oregon wide receiver Cameron Colvin at the 1-yard line with time winding down. Ezeff has been sharing time with Bernard Hicks, who was the hands-down starter heading into camp but has been pushed by Ezeff. This may be Hicks’ chance to reclaim a starting role. But the Bears surely would like to have both players on the field.
–Quarterback Nate Longshore continues to be held out of practice, although he once again wore pads and called out every rep. Tedford reiterated that he thought Longshore would be ready by Saturday. The Bears just want to keep him off the ankle as long as they possibly can.
–Fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou and linebacker Zack Follett looked good in practice. Follett appears ready to make an impact. Ta’ufo’ou’s status may be a little more uncertain.
–Defensive end Tad Smith should start in place of Rulon Davis once again.
I left for Cal’s weekly press luncheon a little early today because I felt there would be more media than ever interested in checking out the No. 2 team in the country. I was right. The small lot Cal sets aside for the media was already full when I got there, sending me scurrying off for another lot.
When I got inside Memorial Stadium, there seemed to be more cameras than ever as well as a full complement of print media from around the area.
As usual, it was hard to tell if Cal was ranked 2nd or 222nd by listening to coach Jeff Tedford. He does a good job of keeping focused on the task at hand, not getting caught up in the hoopla that is undeniably surrounding his program. Tedford would only acknowledge that the Bears would be getting their best shot from opponents because of their lofty status.
It was fun to listen to different players talk about how they reacted to Saturday’s doings, with Stanford upsetting USC and LSU almost going down at the hands of Florida. There were a couple of hours there where it looked as though Cal may be the No. 1 team in the nation this week. That was until LSU came back to beat the Gators.
Linebacker Zack Follett said he was back home in Clovis, “screaming at the television.” Worrell Williams was in Los Angeles, where both area teams lost. He admitted thinking about the prospects of being No. 1 because “we’re competitors.” Quarterback Nate Longshore said he was doing the “Gator chop”, rooting for the Gators to open the No. 1 slot for Cal.
Right tackle Mike Tepper told a funny story Tuesday. He spent the bye weekend camping and had no idea what happened Saturday until he returned to civilization midday Sunday. He said the moment his cell phone regained reception, there were about 30 text messages reacting to the results.
Free safety Thomas DeCoud was up in Las Vegas. He said he couldn’t get the USC game but was “rooting for Florida for three hours.”
Talking to the defensive guys, you can tell they’re looking forward to getting Follett back Saturday against Oregon State. Follett has missed the past couple of games with a neck stinger but should play against the Beavers. Follett said he won’t start but the coaches plan on using him in special package situations.
There’s no question the Bears will need Follett at full strength to continue this run they are on. Even Tedford admitted that while his backups — Mike Mohammed, Justin Moye — performed nicely, that Follett is “special” and gives Cal an added explosive dimension on defense.
Just to clarify, I had written that Follett said his neck was still sore. But he also said he no longer has any symptoms that prevent him from playing or that could pose a risk to further injury. He’s definitely at peace with coming back and is excited to play.
Tedford said defensive end Rulon Davis is doubtful. Apparently, it’s taking longer for him to recover from his sprained foot than initially expected because I think the Bears expected him back this week. Tedford reiterated that he expects Longshore to play. Kicker Tom Schneider (quad) is still out. Fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou (knee) is day to day.
Cal’s offensive players expressed confidence in backup quarterback Kevin Riley in the event he’s ever needed. Riley has been practicing with the first team since the Oregon game while Longshore rests his ankle. Wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins called Riley “crazy”, but wouldn’t say why. That’s saying something because Hawkins almost always has something to say about anything. The guy is simply a delight to deal with.
I forgot to post this important information last night:
Linebacker Zack Follett has dyed his hair back to normal. The “Zyger” look is gone (he had a hairdo that looked like tiger stripes). But don’t fret, Follett says he will unveil something new for the game Saturday. He said he’ll probably do a reversal of the Zyger, going with black hair with bleached stripes instead of the other way around.
“Come back a little mad,” he said.
Follett has missed the past two games with a neck stinger, but it expected to play Saturday.
For those who haven’t heard yet, the Cal-UCLA game on Oct. 20 has been set for 12:30 p.m. and will be televised by ABC. That means only one of the Bears’ remaining games — Nov. 17 at Washington — has yet to be set.