By Jonathan Okanes
Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 at 9:22 pm in Mid-week.
Cal may have a very different looking offensive line for Saturday’s game against Colorado State.
Mitchell Schwartz and Chet Teofilo continue to take reps on opposite sides of the line, and the switch seems to be a done deal. Schwartz talked at length after practice Wednesday about the move to left tackle. Although Jeff Tedford hasn’t definitively said the switch is taking place, it appears imminent at this point.
There may be a totally new left side of the line, because left guard Chris Guarnero missed his second straight practice with a sprained toe. Tedford said Guarnero won’t practice all week, but did say he’d be available for the game. But how much he’s able to play, if at all, seems up in the air. As wide receiver Michael Calvin can tell you, sprained toes can be tricky. Calvin just finally seems to be getting back to full health this week after suffering a sprained toe near the end of training camp.
If Guarnero can’t go or is limited to reserve duty, it appears redshirt sophomore Mark Boskovich will take his place. Boskovich, who has been on the fringe of becoming a starter since the end of last season, has taken all of Guarnero’s reps this week.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford gushed about Schwartz after practice tonight.
“He’s as smart as any lineman we’ve ever had here — any player, for that matter,” he said. “He probably could have played for us as a true freshman. We just didn’t need him. He’s a student of the game. He pays attention to fundamentals. He’s competitive. He’s just done a really nice job.”
Free safety Bernard Hicks continues to be bothered by a leg injury that has kept him out of practice all week as well. It looks as though Brett Johnson will be the starter there once again as well.
Good news on tailback Shane Vereen, who was limping around pretty good during the bye week. Vereen practiced in full capacity Wednesday for the first time since suffering a sprained ankle against Maryland and looked pretty explosive. Vereen was hobbled by an ankle sprain for much of camp and the early part of the season, then sprained it again against the Terps.
“He did fine today,” Tedford said. “Yesterday, I saw a slight limp. He just kind of has that gait now. I’m so used to seeing him with that gait. I don’t know if it’s a natural thing. It seems like he’s had a sprained ankle for two months.”
The Bears continue to spend a lot of time working to improve their kick coverage. Tedford still doesn’t know if freshmen David Seawright or Giorgio Tavecchio will handle kickoffs Saturday. Tavecchio actually boomed a few kicks deep Wednesday, but generally Cal kickers still struggle to get the ball past the 10-yard line consistently.
“You don’t know until game time,” Tedford said when asked if he thought the kick coverage was improving during practice. “I’m really hoping that we do. It’s definitely a focus. It all starts with the kic, then it all starts with the coverage, and everyone paying attention to detail and playing hard. I’m anxious to see them on Saturday.”
One other note: Tedford said defensive lineman Cody Jones is trying to rehab his injured ankle instead of undergoing surgery. Surgery would put him out until after spring practice, Tedford said. The Bears are hoping Jones could get healthy near the end of the season and could be used in a pinch. Jones, who saw a lot of playing time last season, has missed all of training camp and the season.