Cal held a double-day session Monday, heavy on drillwork with Tuesday’s final scrimmage looming. The Bears practiced in helmets and shoulder pads in the morning and just helmets in the evening.
The Bears divide practices into five-minute periods, and they didn’t hold their first 11-on-11 session until period No. 20 during their morning practice.
With limited game-like action, there wasn’t much chance to draw any distinction between the quarterbacks. Nate Longshore did make one mistake when he tried to dump a pass off to a running back while being pressured by defensive end Keith Browner, and it was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Ernie Owusu.
Good news and bad news on the injury front. Nose tackle Derrick Hill (sprained ankle) returned to practice in a limited role, but tight end Cameron Morrah and cornerback Chris Conte now have sprained ankles, although Conte wasn’t in a red jersey.
It will be interesting to see just how much can be decided in Tuesday’s scrimmage. The Bears have key injuries at positions where there are battles for playing time. Mika Kane and Hill, the top two candidates for the nose tackle job, probably won’t play. Conte, who is fighting Darian Hagan for a starting job, is now an uncertainty. Mike Tepper’s injury still has the offensive line in a state of flux.
Coach Jeff Tedford downplayed the effect the scrimmage will have on the final depth chart, but it sure seems like it’s a big opportunity for those players vying for playing time. The Bears will start game planning for Michigan State on Wednesday, and Tedford said the team needs to have its scout team in order by that time. That means we should know by Wednesday which freshman are going to play this season and which are going to redshirt. It also will be interesting to see who takes first and second team reps, although Tedford has stressed that evaluation at every position is ongoing.
“You always like the dress rehearsal to be a scrimmage where we’re flying around, we’re not making mistakes, and we’re closer to where we want to be before we play Michigan State,” Tedford said. “We’re getting close. Tomorrow is one more opportunity for guys to show what they can do. From there, we have to create a depth chart because it’s time to start preparing for Michigan State.”
Tuesday’s scrimmage is closed to the media, so I won’t be able to provide many details. But Tedford will address the press afterward, so look for an update later Tuesday night.