By Jonathan Okanes
Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 at 10:34 pm in off-season stuff.
Mother Nature did Cal a favor for most of Tuesday afternoon. The rain stopped for most of today’s practice. The field was certainly wet but the Bears only were drizzled on a little bit during their session.
There were a couple significant developments today. First, kicker David Seawright practiced for the first time this spring. Seawright, who is recovering from a serious hip injury, had been kicking a little bit here and there before practices, but Tuesday was the first time in six months he attempted field goals with a long snapper and holder.
And Seawright looked good. Granted, he didn’t attempt any field goals beyond 25 yards, but he looked smooth and accurate as he consistently split the uprights from both hash marks.
Seawright said he is still kicking with pain. His injury has been difficult for doctors to diagnose and he said he’s been told there’s a chance he might always have to kick with pain for now on. But if Tuesday is any indication, he may be able to live with it.
“After today, I feel very encouraged,” Seawright said. “My confidence hasn’t gone away. I’m still optimistic that someday I will kick without pain. It felt good. I was hitting the ball pretty well, getting some good pop on it.”
Seawright still hasn’t attempted kickoffs and may not do so during the spring.
If Seawright becomes a viable candidate for placekicking duties, the Bears will have some kind of competition during fall camp. Incumbent Giorgio Tavecchio has been excellent during the spring, and Cal also will welcome incoming freshman Vince D’Amato in the fall.
“It’s always what you look for,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “Obviously, it’s a situation where you feel good about that competition. That’s three quality kickers right there.”
The other news is that tight end Tad Smith had surgery on his broken scapula Tuesday afternoon. After seeing a specialist, it has been determined Smith will miss approximately 3½ months. That is better news than the initial conservative estimate the team was given immediately following the injury. Smith should be ready to go by the start of fall camp.
Smith suffered the injury Thursday during practice when he was hit hard by safety Marcus Ezeff after making a catch over the middle.
With Smith out for the rest of the spring, Anthony Miller is taking first team reps. Senior Skylar Curran is starting to get more reps, and Spencer Ladner and Jarrett Sparks will continue to get looks as well.
The most lively part of practice Tuesday was the hurry-up at the end of the session where the offense has just a little time to try to score. The first, second and third teams first try to score a touchdown trailing 28-20, then try to get a field goal trailing 23-21. Quarterback Kevin Riley threw about a 20-yard completion to Miller at the 2-yard line trailing by a touchdown then ran up to spike the ball with two seconds left. But his final pass to Jeremy Ross fell incomplete.
When the second team took over, Brock Mansion’s first pass was intercepted by Chris Conte to quickly end the drive.
Beau Sweeney tried to lead the Bears into field goal range with it 23-21, but Tavecchio’s 43-yard attempt sailed wide left (Earlier in practice, Sweeney took some reps with the first team offense for the first time this spring, not counting Saturday’s scrimmage when the reps were divided evenly among the quarterbacks).
Later, wide receiver Alex Lagemann made a nice play to catch a pass from Riley and withstood a hard hit by safety D.J. Campbell. Tavecchio made a 25-yard field goal to give the Bears the “win.”