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Post-practice: Tuesday (closed scrimmage)

By Jonathan Okanes
Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 at 10:09 pm in Training camp.

It’s amazing how much information you get when you actually have to depend on other people to give it to you.

Tuesday’s second and final scrimmage of training camp was closed to the media. Reporters were let into the stadium just as practice was winding down. I got inside just in time to see David Seawright clank a 52-yard field goal attempt off the crossbar. Apparently, that was the only missed field goal of the day between him and Jordan Kay combined.

Those of you who were waiting for some grand revelations to come out of the scrimmage are going to be disappointed. The only real news is that coach Jeff Tedford said tight end Anthony Miller and linebacker Mychal Kendricks are going to play as true freshman. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory later said the same thing about nose tackle Kendrick Payne.

There will be others. Wide receiver Marvin Jones is a sure thing to play this season as a freshman. Tedford was coy when asked about Jones after the scrimmage. That’s probably because the coaching staff still hasn’t sorted out the depth chart at receiver, and Tedford would rather wait until those decisions have been made to comment on one player.

“Let’s put it this way,” Tedford said. “He has the best chance out of the freshman to play right now at the receiver position.”

Tedford was smiling when he said it. His smile had a “Duh” look to it.

Other true freshman who might play right away are cornerback Marc Anthony, defensive linemen Trevor Guyton and Aaron Tipoti and Seawright.

Tedford said the coaching staff will have meetings Wednesday to sort out the depth chart. Game planning for Michigan State won’t actually begin until Thursday. Wednesday morning’s practice will be a “mock game,” in which the team will go over organizational things. Tedford said “we’ll kind of know what’s going on” by Thursday’s practice.

Whether that applies to the quarterback spot remains to be seen. Tedford dropped another hint that he may pick a starter sooner than expected when he was asked how close he was to picking the first team QB. “We’re getting close,” he said. Does close mean Thursday? Who knows? A follow-up question asked what his timeline was for naming a starter. He chuckled and said “I don’t know. I’m not going to back myself into that corner.”

Tedford didn’t say much about the quarterbacks’ play Tuesday. The only real detail he provided was that neither Nate Longshore or Kevin Riley threw an interception. The only interception of the day came on a pass from Brock Mansion. It was picked off by defensive back Bryant Nnabufie, who continued his strong camp by recovering a fumble as well.

Tedford said Jahvid Best provided the offensive highlights with a couple of big plays. Tedford said Best didn’t get many touches.

“Just being smart,” he said. “He took a lot of reps through the early part of camp. We feel like he’s ready to go. There wasn’t a lot of need for him to get banged up today.”

Running back Shane Vereen, still slightly hobbled because of a sprained ankle, had a 30-yard touchdown run.

Other defensive highlights besides Nnabufie’s plays were a sack by Zack Follett, who returned after missing a few days with a groin injury, and a batted pass by defensive end Keith Browner.

One other somewhat newsworthy nugget is that Tedford said he doesn’t expect left tackle Mike Tepper to “play a significant role” in the season-opener against Michigan State. Tepper has yet to practice this fall as he recovers from pectoral muscle surgery and a hamstring pull. Tedford said he feels comfortable with Chet Teofilo at left tackle and Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle.

Tedford also said cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson (sprained shoulder) “is getting better every day” and should be back on the field soon.

Linebacker Eddie Young missed the scrimmage after suffering a groin pull on Monday. Gregory said if the season started today, Young would be the fourth linebacker along with Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder. But he said Devin Bishop is also in the mix.

When asked about the competition between Chris Conte and Darian Hagan for the cornerback spot opposite Thompson, Gregory said “We’re going to need all those guys. We’re going to need Syd, we’re going to need Chris, we’re going to need Hagan, and we’ll probably need one more to emerge.”

Conte participated in the scrimmage after sitting out Monday with an ankle sprain.

Even though Cal is deep at linebacker, Gregory said it’s simply impossible to keep Kendricks off the field. He also pointed out the Bears need more linebackers now that they are employing the 3-4 defense.

“It would be hard not to redshirt Mychal Kendricks,” Gregory said. “He’s done a real good job and is making plays. We’re going to need him. Even though we have some good linebackers, we probably don’t have as much depth there since we’ve made this switch.”

Nose tackle Derrick Hill returned from an ankle sprain to play in the scrimmage, but that spot still is up in the air because Mika Kane has been out with an ankle sprain of his own, and Tedford said he didn’t know when he would return. That has allowed Payne to get plenty of reps at practice.

“I think we have to play all of those guys,” Gregory said. “If we can get a few snaps out of all of them, it’s going to keep them fresh. I’m not sure if one guy as emerged as ‘The Guy’. They’re all going to play this year.”

One other note: The scrimmage was a dress rehearsal for the Bears, so they wore their new uniforms. They look pretty sharp.

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  • moreNCsarecoming

    Smells and sounds like things are headed for the Las Vegas Bowl.

  • Jan K Oski

    Interesting tidbits, JO. Excellent reporting on Tedford’s demeanor. I wish some Cal fans would recognize that the man is an introvert and just accept it.

    I’m continually amazed by this group of incoming frosh, and I can’t wait to see them in action. I am surprised that Miller will play TE. I thought Cal was loaded at the position, but could it be due to his blocking ability?

    Finally, I must say, Go Bears!

  • oski’seyehole

    bears shuold get a rebate on that Momentum Turf. the color is a little more royal blue than navy, and they’ve got a dozen sprained ankles before the season even starts.

  • Defense Bears

    I am very surprised that so many true freshmen will play this year. Not to imply I’m upset about it, truthfully it makes me very happy, the guys who produce are going to be on the field no matter how old or young they are. Pretty exciting the season is so close. Can’t wait to see what this team looks like in October and November. They may not be world beaters to start the year but this team will improve every game as players gain experience and confidence.
    Go Bears!

  • oski’seyehole

    bears should get a rebate on that Momentum Turf. the color is a little more royal blue than navy, and they’ve got a dozen sprained ankles before the season even starts.

  • Big D

    Have fun in Vegas, troll.

  • http://www.lross.net Lawrence Ross

    Hey Defense Bears,,

    I think that’s the one thing Tedford learned from last season. If a freshman can compete, then they’ll play. And that’s a GREAT thing.

    Go Bears!

  • Steve in Concord

    MoreNC’s–
    From where you sit, that’s probably some USC player’s body odor you’re smelling.

  • Steve in Concord

    Is anyone planning on going to the Fan Appreciation Day on the 23rd? I went in 2005 and it really is a great way to meet the players up close and personal. The ones I met were really polite and actually seemed slightly surprised by all the attention being paid to them.

    Just a hint:Toward the end of the event, when the crowd has mostly filtered out of the stadium is a really good time to meet the players. During most of the event there are lines of people waiting to get team posters signed by them.

  • teeter totter

    You guys are drinking the cool-aid. Tedford’s been around plenty long enough to establish depth and avoid playing true freshman. In big time college football something is wrong with your recruiting if you are playing alot of true frosh. Major red flag.

  • moreNCsarecoming

    Lawrence Ross Says:
    August 20th, 2008 at 12:17 am
    Hey Defense Bears,,

    I think that’s the one thing Tedford learned from last season. If a freshman can compete, then they’ll play. And that’s a GREAT thing.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    This has been Pete Carroll’s philosophy from the get go. The few that redshirt are usually 3* players. I cannot think of one 5* player that has been redshirted. Next year Matt Barklay will be given serious opportunity to compete. He is currently ranked as the national player of the year.

  • Teff EdFord

    Any mammal spending a considerable amount of time around the Coliseum in LA will have their olfactory system overloaded and rendered practically useless, due to the horrible odors from the Universal #### Can…this is why prospective USC students attending that school without a scholarship can’t smell “ripoff” and will pay those egregious sums of daddy’s money for a second-rate education.

  • Tyler M.

    JO- I’m assuming that Deboskie will also be playing as a true freshman based on his early entrance and Cal’s lack of RBs, right?

  • Davidson

    Tyler, good question.

    From my sightings and following the coverage, I don’t think Deboskie is ready. He will probably redshirt.

    Also, I wouldn’t call Cal’s rbs “slim”. I’m very confident in our trio of Best, Vereen and Slocum.

  • dball

    I personally think you can measure the success of recruiting by how many underclassmen get time on the field. The fact that there are so many underclassmen competing says a lot about how the quality is getting better and better. We may not recruit as many players as the other Pac10 schools, but I think we should be really happy with the quality of each recruit. I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy heading into this season opener!

  • Jan K Oski

    I think Deboskie could be the new gunner on special teams. Recall JO’s blog entry in that Debo took down a punt returner on an early hit and received a tongue lashing from Tedford. I suppose a db could take Best place, but which one?

    Dball, we actually do recruit the same number as every other Division I school, or in another way, the NCAA limits annual recruit numbers to be under 26. I think you probable meant that we don’t measure up in “star-power”, but this group of young men will show that they were drastically under-rated as a group. I whole-heartedly agree with that and your later feelings.
    Go Bears!

  • dball

    According to Rivals, Cal inked 21 players, USC 19, UCLA 23, Oregon 20, AZ St 27, WA 27, AZ 23, StanfUrd 17, didn’t bother looking up the other two. In general, the Top25 schools from outside the conference sign more commits than schools in the Pac10.

    What’s great is that our star power isn’t indicative of the real quality. Proof will be in the record and stats at the end of the season. And I’m feeling optimistic today.

    On another note, I hope that this new defense plays well enough to earn a nickname, like the Hit Squad from the turn of the century….I just love saying it….HIT-SQUAD….HIT-SQUAD!

  • Davidson

    Jan O, but really, if Deboskie (love how Oski is in his name, btw) is going to just be a gunner and get limited snaps…would that we worth a full year’s eligibility? He’s very very young. Let him develop.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Tyler, I don’t know about that. Cal has three very good running backs, and he may not be needed on special teams.

  • Steve in Concord

    I think schools sometime “overbook” their recruits, knowing that some won’t actually qualify scholastically. Also, some programs are more apt to give scholarships to players who previously “walked on” than others who use all their scolarships on incoming players. All Div 1 schools have the same amount of total sholarships available to them. How many are available each year will vary due to how many players graduate/leave early/drop out of the program/ get injured etc.