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A twist as the season nears

The last day of practice before the start of the season came with a bizarre twist Thursday. It appears the battle to handle kickoff duties is now a three-way race after the Bears welcomed walk-on Giorgio Taveccio to the team.

 

Cal knew it had Taveccio coming to Berkeley but wasn’t able to bring him to training camp because there were no spots available (A team can only have so many players in camp). He joined the team Wednesday and kicked the past two days. As unique as it may seem, it appears Taveccio has a chance to win the kickoff job in time for Saturday’s opener despite only being with the team a few days.

 

“I’d say he’s in the mix,” Cal special teams coach Pete Alamar said. “He had a nice day today. We’ll sit down and talk about it. He showed well.”

 

Both Alamar and coach Jeff Tedford said there’s a chance Taveccio will kick against Michigan State. Taveccio kicked the ball deeper than both Jordan Kay and David Seawright on Thursday.

Alamar said he discovered Taveccio at Cal’s kicking camp last summer. He said Taveccio was under the radar because he’s a top soccer player and didn’t attend many of the kicking camps and combines.

 

“If you’re not a guy who’s on the kicking camp circuit, you don’t necessarily get noticed,” Alamar said. “You’re not as high-profile. Giorgio is an elite level soccer player, so he wasn’t going to all the camps and combines. You look at his tape his senior year, he’s every bit as good as the guys you see.”

 

Meanwhile, there was good news and bad news for Cal on the injury front. Cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson (sprained shoulder) practiced in full capacity and is ready to go for the opener. But wide receiver Michael Calvin (sprained toe) missed another practice. Tedford said Calvin’s availability will be a gametime decision, but he hasn’t practiced all week and it doesn’t appear likely he will play.

 

That’s obviously a big blow to the Bears with all of the uncertainty surrounding their receivers. Even though he has yet to play in a college game, he’s as close as Cal has to a sure thing, simply based on his talent and how he’s performed in practice since he’s been with the Bears.

 

Tedford said Marvin Jones and Nyan Boateng would pick up Calvin’s reps if he can’t go.

Not surprisingly, Tedford also said left tackle Mike Tepper wouldn’t play Saturday. Tepper still has yet to do much in practice as he continues his recovery from pectoral muscle surgery and a hamstring pull.

 

Another notable development on defense: Brett Johnson took the first team reps Thursday at free safety instead of Bernard Hicks. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said no decision has been made who will start, but added that he expects both players to get about the same reps in the game. Still, it’s a significant bit of news because Hicks seemed to be a lock to play free safety through the spring and much

 

 

  

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Macdaddytms

    JO… 1)What is Ezeff’s status? You have not mentioned him for awhile. 2)Does Jones look like he can really contribute right away?

    Thanks for all the work

  • BoaltBlue

    I also would like your views on Marcus Ezeff, whose hit on Oregon receiver Colvin last year was the height of Cal football. Ezeff is fast, hits hard, and tackles well. He should get plenty of playing time.

    On another note, I predict that LaReyelle Cunningham will be a star receiver. When given the opportunity in the past, he has always performed well as in the 2005 WSU game. Look for him to burn our opponents big time. He is not cocky, but a solid upstanding workhorse.

    Last note, for short yardage situations, I suggest that we use fullback Will T. who seems unstoppable within four to five yards.

    Go Bears! Tis the year to deliver the Rose Bowl to all Cal fans who have waited so long.

  • Goldiebear

    BoaltBlue–Cunningham never got to play much because he didn’t possess the speed of Jackson and Hawkins. That’s what happens when you play behind guys who are both skilled and fast. That doesn’t mean he can’t contribute though, as LaReylle did in the WSU game. He may well have started for lots of other teams. Let’s hope he makes the most of his opportunity.

    I totally agree with you regarding Will T. He has been under utilized in the past and should definitely be used in short yardage situations. How come FB’s never get to carry the ball anymore?

  • HOUSE

    Ouch that is a pretty big blow, and a slight let down to us fans who were really excited to see what Calvin was all about. Hopefully he will be able to go in limited capacity just to get the feel of the college game.
    One more day to sit trough bears fans, Saturday never seems so far away!!!

  • NEA

    As an orthopaedist, I think I have a pretty good idea what’s going on with the kickers and their lack of “pop” on kick-offs. Based upon the reports I’ve read, the kids in camp have been piling up very big numbers of reps essentially every day since camp started. The kicking motion imparts tremendous stress. Since they have been competing to play, they are unlikely to ask for rest even though their legs need it badly. Chronic leg fatigue and dimished power are the natural results. It should be no surprise that “fresh legs” look better. Maybe the new guy is better anyway, but if the coaches would give the camp players adequate rest, I would expect their kick-off performances to improve significantly.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    JO
    Have you done a story as to why UCB won’t play Fresno State. Coach Hill was interviewed in the Sac Bee saying that they have tried very hard to get a game AT Berkley but to no success. Why? Please do a story on it. Here is the link.
    http://www.sacbee.com/100/story/1192207.html

  • Kensington

    JO
    Have you done a story as to why UCB won’t play Fresno State. Coach Hill was interviewed in the Sac Bee saying that they have tried very hard to get a game AT Berkley but to no success. Why? Please do a story on it. Here is the link.
    http://www.sacbee.com/100/story/1192207.html

    Thank you so much for that article. You know, this is a question that is just burning in the minds of many Cal fans. Perhaps in the same article JO might explain why South Cal U hasn’t played CSFU since 2005. That is just shocking considering the fact that Mr. Coach Hill wants to play them every year. They should do what he says in my opinion. I will be so happy to watch our Bruin-friends play against Mr. Coach Hill this year in what will be a landmark matchup in the South Cal area.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Kensington Says:
    August 29th, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Perhaps in the same article JO might explain why South Cal U hasn’t played CSFU since 2005.
    Remember the outcome?

    That is just shocking considering the fact that Mr. Coach Hill wants to play them every year. They should do what he says in my opinion.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Everyone including FSU, OSU, Texas, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, etc want to play USC. You get great national exposure, if you win you go right to #1 and you make a lot of money. Consider yourself blessed if you do.

  • Jan K Oski

    Goldie and Boalt, Don’t expect Will T to get more than a handful of carries a game, if he’s lucky. He’ll probable get more touches on screen plays all season. This is why… I was watching my torrent copy of the Vols at Cal game last night, and Will T made some huge blocks like in Best’s 2nd Quarter long run. Best will need him to be fresh to do that all year long.
    Go Bears!

  • Jan K Oski

    House, It is still up in the air, if Calvin will play. As you were up at 1 am, I’m assuming you missed the important part, “if he can’t go.” So, take a deep breath! Calvin will go if he can! If he can’t, I bet we will be seeing more of the 2 TB set with Best and Vereen or Slocum. That’s not a bad alternative with Riley back there. Holy Bear, the game is tomorrow!
    Go Bears!

  • Jan K Oski

    Hey NEA, I too am surprised that Seawright didn’t match his booming kicks from high school. But, do we know how many reps the kids were kicking everyday? I don’t think anyone reported that on a consistant basis. I’m sure Cal has on staff a doctor who shares your same concern. If not, I’d be really surprised.

    Plus, I’m sure Alamar was having one of the grad students keep note on how far their kicks were. If he saw a drop-off, it would only make sense to ask your question or take action in resting their legs. Then again, Alamar hasn’t really impressed me with the play of special teams, so you might have a point.

    From my experience in soccer, not everyone has a booming kick that could translate into kickoffs. In reality, only a few special people can do a certain kick really well. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Bend it like Beckham”. Based on that, I’m not shocked it took another walk-on to seize the kickoffs.

  • DocJ

    Hi Jon,

    I’ve been having trouble finding your Cal preview–I only see a reference to it in the Pac-10 preview. Must be web-challenged! Can you help?

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Great read from Spartan Nation board.

    Funny story from here in Cal about the Game
    by Banned by SpartanMag on Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:43 am

    So we arrive all decked out in our MSU gear and the lady at the airports asks us about it. She and her husband have season tickets. She says to my wife, “Why on earth would people travel this far for a football game. We have tickets just for the fun, who cares about football?” She went on to say that she has seen as many Spartans as Volunteers fans from when they played here. She says, “It was terrible when they were here. The stadium is such a nice experience with the scenery and they made it all loud. I hope your fans are more subdued and civlilized like we are.” She said, “Do you think we should sell our ticket?” My wife agreed to buy them. They are bringing them to the hotel. My wife says, “I will give them to any Spartan or throw them away if I can’t, but I did my part for the cause.” Gotta love Spartan Nation passion and a wife like that.

  • CalAlum97

    :rolls eyes:
    great theater/work of fiction…

  • Big D

    Kickoff is close to 24 hours from now!

    i’m still trying to figure out, is Stanfurd that good or is OSU that bad? I’m leaning toward OSU is that bad…

  • Jan K Oski

    ’97, isn’t it funny how fiction often conflicts with reality? I met several Vol fans around the Faculty Club, and we had some great conversations about both teams. Then, I sat right next to a bunch of Vol fans, and they were extremely friendly and polite losers. I was told by a friend that pot grows wild all over the midwest. I wonder if this MSU fan has been smoking too much of the natural stuff.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Mac, Ezeff is the starting strong safety. And yes, Jones looks like he can make an impact right away. Quite frankly, the Bears may need him to.
    Doc, you’re not alone. Apparently there’s been some technical difficulties getting it on to the website. I think it’s still being worked on.

  • Big D

    24 Hour to go!

    Go BEARS!

  • BombayBear

    She says, “It was terrible when they were here. The stadium is such a nice experience with the scenery and they made it all loud. I hope your fans are more subdued and civlilized like we are.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Ahahah, yeah, that sounds convincing. That’s pretty much about how bad I would expect the creative writing coming out of USC to sound. You guys should just save the $300,000 in tuition or whatever ridiculous amount you pay for a second-rate education and go to a JC, they definitely have an English department that would compare with SC’s.
    And…Go Bears!