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Cal football: Spring review — special teams

By Jonathan Okanes
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 at 3:18 pm in off-season stuff.

HELPED HIS CAUSE: Giorgio Tavecchio. With incoming freshman Vince D’Amato set to compete in the fall and David Seawright continuing his comeback from injury, Tavecchio did himself a big favor by having a terrific spring. His work in the weight room has obviously paid off, as Tavecchio routinely boomed long field goals and his kickoffs went further than last season. Seawright is progressing slowly, Tavecchio appears to be the favorite in the fall.

WORK TO DO: Seawright. He didn’t start attempting field goals until the latter part of spring practice, but looked pretty sharp once he started. Seawright still has yet to resume kicking off. It’s a long way back with his healthy history, but the time in between spring and fall camp should help. If he’s substantially more healthy in the fall, it could make for an extremely compelling competition.

WHERE WE STAND: Besides placekicking, the Bears are pretty set on special teams. Bryan Anger, although a little inconsistent in the spring, still will be one of the nation’s top returning punters next season. And the return game should be dynamic, with Jahvid Best returning kicks and Syd’Quan Thompson on punt duties. It will be hard to get a gauge on how Cal’s kick and punt coverage is improving until they actually play in games.

MOVING FORWARD: The kicking spot will be the most fluid in the fall. It’s rare to have three viable placekickers in the same program at the same time, but that could be the competition going on during camp. The other thing to follow will be the second kick returner. There may be times when Best doesn’t return kicks, whether it be to preserve him physically or because of the offensive set the Bears plan on beginning with for the ensuing possession. Jeremy Ross did OK in that role last season, but you might see Shane Vereen or Marvin Jones get more looks there.

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  • J Davis

    You left out ISI Sopele. Based on his videos it will be difficult to keep him off the field in punt returns and kickoff returns

  • Davidson

    Dude, I am sure Isi Sofele is going to be a star. Don’t ask me why, but I’m sure.

  • Lawrence

    I have the same feeling. Sopele reminds me of those Utah players who run around fast as lightening, but are small as a gnat. I think he’s going to be used in some situations and I think he’ll be devastating.

  • Larry

    Check out this quote, …”The allegations against Bush, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints in the NFL, could bring NCAA sanctions against USC. Penalties could include forfeiture of victories in 2004 and 2005. The fate of the 2004 national championship would be in the hands of the Bowl Championship Series committee. The NCAA could rule Bush retroactively ineligible, leaving the Heisman Trust to determine Bush’s eligibility for the award.

    HA! HA! HA! where’s that usc fan that’s always on here? Laying low?

  • Will

    Sofele wasn’t there for the spring, was he? That’s why he wasn’t included in this review.

    And that USC fan is “on vacation”…aka, his daddy caught him looking at some dirty websites and disconnected his internet access for a month.

  • Pete Carroll

    Where is PattyCakes to address this obvious case of “lack of institutional control”?

    On behalf of SC let me say for the record, we are guilty. I expect the NCAA to throw the book at our program. I expect the victories we had with R. Bush to be revoked, lose scholarships, and to be banned from post season play.

    PC

  • Davidson

    Yes, Sofele has not practiced yet. He will be there in the fall. Will most likely redshirt.

    The knock on him is that he is undersized. However, the guy had 34 touchdowns as a senior in HS and was never injured. He’s small, but durable. Great athlete in a small body. I think he will be fine in college. It will be awesome to have a tiny back just dart out from our big o-line. I don’t think he will have a problem running in between the tackles.

  • dmgobears

    Davidson,

    I think Sofele will have the opportunity to contribute immediately on special teams returning kick-offs and possibly punts. With his speed he could also be an effective gunner ala J Best, but I have no idea if he can tackle. In Best, Vereen and Sofele, we have 3 backs with game changing speed.

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