Well, the Bears held their last practice of the season at Memorial Stadium today. It was kind of a fun moment at the end when the players carried the seniors off the field on their shoulders. The camraderie of the team appears to be at an all-time high for the season.
Cal met as a team immediately after practice and then went their separate ways for the holidays. Most guys are going home to spend time with their families. For tailback Justin Forsett, he gets to go home for the holiday and for the bowl game. Forsett is from Arlington, Texas, just a short drive from Fort Worth, where the Armed Forces Bowl will be played.
The Bears spent the past couple of days continue to put in the game plan for Air Force. The Falcons are led by running back/wide receiver Chad Hall, the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year. Hall is the only player in the country to lead his team in both rushing yards (1415 ) and receiving yards (448). Hall basically does everything for the Falcons.
Usually, the only player on the scout team offense to wear a different color jersey is the quarterback. But this week, freshman Shane Vereen emulated Hall and also wore a different color. Obviously, the Bears are concerned with stopping Hall.
Defensive end Rulon Davis has returned to practice after taking some time off to deal with the death of a family member. You can tell Davis is chomping at the bit to play again. It’s been a frustrating year for the junior. He earned a starting spot in training camp but has missed seven games with foot and knee injuries. It’s the second straight season Davis has been dogged by injury. At Thursday’s Armed Forces Bowl press luncheon, Davis said he feels as good as he has since spring practice.
Davis also has a fiery attitude, something the Bears could use. He was motivated by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit’s comment that Cal was the likeliest team to get blown out during the bowl season. Davis also stuck up for the Bears much-maligned defense this season, saying “The defense is outstanding. I’m so proud of this defense. For everybody out there, don’t give up on this defense. We’re good.” You can make the argument that Davis’ comments may not be completely accurate, but if nothing else, Cal needs more players to take a little more of a fighter’s attitude.
Several players attended Thursday’s luncheon, including wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson and quarterback Nate Longshore never were available to come to weekly luncheon’s during the regular season because of class conflicts. They were able to come by Thursday now that classes are over. Jackson said his thigh contusion is completely healed and he feels 100 percent. He said he was close to playing against Stanford but just felt like he wasn’t capable of utilizing his speed and quickness in a way that would help the team. He also reiterated that he is going to wait until after the season to decide about the NFL draft. He said he will consult his family and Jeff Tedford before making a decision.
Longshore talked a little about last Saturday’s ceremony to honor the opening of the new “Todd Longshore Park” in Santa Clarita near his hometown. Todd Longshore, Nate’s father, was a longtime commissioner of the city’s park district but passed away suddenly last year. Longshore is returning home for the holidays. “We have some Christmas football games going down at the house every year, so I have to get in some of those,” he said. “I usually specialize in middle linebacker. They don’t let me play quarterback.”
Coach Jeff Tedford mentioned that he called Rich Rodriguez to congratulate him on becoming Michigan’s new coach. Some believed Tedford may have been a candidate for that job, but I don’t think there was anything to that. Tedford was asked Thursday if inquiries about his services have diminished this year in light of the team’s struggles, and he said it hasn’t been much different. “There are inquiries here and there, but nothing I’m interested in listening to. I’m not listening to anything.”