Football: Training camp report — Aug. 9

Ever since the meltdown of 2007, “leadership” has been one of the watchwords of Cal’s program. It was obvious that a lack of player leadership contributed to the team’s downfall that season, and it became a focal point going into last year.

The Bears found those leaders in 2008, with players like Zack Follett, Worrell Williams and Alex Mack assuming those roles. And by all accounts, some players had already started to distinguish themselves as leaders this summer — quarterback Kevin Riley, wide receiver Jeremy Ross, offensive tackle Mike Tepper, defensive end Tyson Alualu, linebacker Mike Mohamed and cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson, in particular.

Another leader was born Sunday night.

Safety Marcus Ezeff, typically soft-spoken and reserved publicly, ripped into his team at the end of practice following an undisclosed incident in which a player or players exhibited “immaturity” off the field. Ezeff would only say that it was “just guys trying to have some fun. Camp can be a grind. It’s just guys being guys. Sometimes you just want to find ways to be a kid. It was nothing bad.”

Nonetheless, during post-practice stretching, coach Jeff Tedford talked sternly and generally about showing maturity and behaving properly. When he was done, Ezeff passionately implored his teammates to do the right thing, telling them “we’re trying to win a Pac-10 championship. it’s time to grow up and step up.”

“I felt like Coach Tedford was talking to me,” Ezeff said. “He was talking to the seniors. He’s still looking for leaders.”

Ezeff said he talked a lot this summer with Follett, a close friend who now is in the Detroit Lions camp. Follett shared some wisdom on leadership.

“You have to follow before you lead,” Ezeff said. “I’ve followed some great leaders here.”

Tedford wouldn’t comment on the situation, saying only that it was a “team thing.”

After practicing in only helmets the first two days, the Bears wore shells (helmets and shoulder pads) tonight. That resulted in some fiercer hitting and more football-like situations. The team will wear full pads for the first time Tuesday.

“It’s just more realistic,” Tedford said. “It will be even more realistic when we actually put the full gear on. Things start to pick up a little.”

The hardest hit of the day came when safety Brett Johnson leveled running back Peter Guerts in the backfield for a loss.

The hard hitting resulted in a few dings. Tight end Spencer Ladner and wide receiver Verran Tucker limped off the field near the end of practice. Tedford wasn’t sure of the severity immediately after practice.

Wide receiver Nyan Boateng missed practice because of a death of a family member. He flew back home to New York but was expected to be back tonight and return to the field Monday. Punter Bryan Anger also missed practice because of a summer school study group.

Back to Tucker, after showing some potential last season, he may have an uphill climb to get as many reps as he did last season. Tucker only did conditioning work during spring practice to focus on academics. And while Tedford is pleased with how Tucker is coming along academically, the lack of action may hurt him on the depth chart. Not only did Tucker miss those opportunities that would have come in the spring, he now has more competition with the emergence of Marvin Jones and Alex Lagemann and the return of Michael Calvin from an ACL surgery.

“He’s in the mix, but he’s behind those other guys,” Tedford said.

Those “other guys” are Jones, Boateng, Lagemann, Calvin and Jeremy Ross.

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.

  • abe

    I must say I am rather disappointed with this report. While I acknowledge leadership is important in team sports I don’t thing it shouldn’t be the focus of an entire report. I am dying to know how the offense did, how is Riley and the receivers are progressing, how about the new WR’s, LB’s, the fullbacks,…etc I mean come on JO, where is the beef. A lot of the stuff about players not present or injured etc is stuff that maybe should be mentioned as a footnote. I waited all day for this report, since practice is closed we have absolutely no idea what is going on, and there is not one comment about actual football—I don’t mean to dissing you or CC times, but I simply can’t say I am not disappointed.

  • CalFBFan

    Eh, to be honest, I don’t mind that JO’s gone and done something different; I tend to check all Cal football sources and it’s good to have multiple stories on different subjects. At least one will have a practice report and JO having a different angle makes checking all the sources more worthwhile.

    Besides, JO usually gives us a practice report. It’s nice to spice things up every now and then.

  • abe

    I understand what you are talking about and that is precisely why I like to keep tabs on multiple sources to gain the fullest coverage on the state of Cal football. Thus from my own selfish perspective I actually don’t mind the above coverage. You see I am a Cal football fanatic and I have a lot of time on my hand to read all kind of blogs everyday but not everybody shares that kind of luxury. And for most of those people this is probably the only source of news as most of the other decent blogs are not even free. Therefore speaking from their perspective it its not out of place to suggest that the above report could probably use some substance as far as actual football is concerned. One other thing, I find such a detailed focus on the topic of leadership this early in camp rather premature. Yes leadership is important but this is only the 3rd of camp. I would wait perhaps till the last week of camp to provide a more thorough summary on this area about who emerged as a leader and how the rest of the team is responding and so on. Dont get me wrong, everyday when I open my browser, this is the very first blog I check on so I appreciate the work JO does and I have said that on multiple occasions. But today I couldn’t help but be disappointed with the complete absence of any mention of at least QB play, especially when the QBs did some nice things apparently.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Thanks for the helpful article JO. I showed it to Daddy and he was encouraged. Leadership is his thing.

    Thanks to Abe for post #2.

  • TrumanHugh

    I very much appreciated this post, JO. Team leadership is just as much a part of the equation as the Xs and Os, especially for Cal. This blog is about Cal football…all aspects of Cal football, and there may be times when a specific topic or focus may not be addressed…too bad!

    There are many sources of information out there and I think this post was a nice perspective, something different. As Abe learned, the specific type of info he was craving was just another mouse click away. Why bitch and moan when your were clearly able to find the storyline you were looking for?!

    Abe–in the future, simply post the link. That way, you’re not insulting JO by hijacking his blog with “oneupmanship”, and, more importantly, you’re not violating any copyright or subscription regs.

    Go Bears!

  • abe

    I dont mean to insult JO, it certainly wasn’t not my intention but sometimes you got to make a point somehow and that was the only way I could do it. As I indicated above this wasn’t just about me, otherwise yeah I did have this other report so I shouldn’t care but I was advocating for everyone who relies on this blog for all their coverage. Read it, it actually makes some sense. Finally, this is a restricted article, posting a link won’t work. And as for the violation of copyright I am probably doing Bearinsider a favor since this was just a one time thing except I might have convinced a few people who also have the time like I do and the willingness to shell out $10 bucks a month to get a different perspective. Hope that answers all your concerns. Once again I apologize to JO, if this was in any way an insult because that was not my intention, just a little frustrated. I have had my other subscription for a while, yet I never stopped visiting this blog on a daily basis b/c I value JO’s perspective, besides the X’s and O’s. I am not saying JO is not capable of providing similar coverage. I understand he probably has more responsibilities. Thats why in my criticism above I indicated that if he has time to cover just one thing at this point in camp I wish it was the X’s and O’s and not the intangibles. That was all.

  • noduck

    wow… is this one of those spontaneous cal fans support groups i’ve heard about?