By Jonathan Okanes
Saturday, August 15th, 2009 at 8:12 pm in Training camp.
Cal held its first double-day of training camp today. The heavy lifting was done in the morning session, when an officiating crew was brought in for the session in full pads.
The Bears will have their first scrimmage of camp on Tuesday, but Saturday morning the Bears had a pseudo-situational scrimmage to work through different scenarios in a game. It also gave the coaching staff a chance to evaluate the team in live action.
The defense had the advantage for most of the morning, as both the first and second offensive units struggled to move the ball. Kevin Riley did lead the first unit to a touchdown during a two-minute drill near the end of practice. In the scenario, the offense trails 24-16 with two minutes left and tries to tie the game. Riley threw a shovel pass to Shane Vereen for a 19-yard touchdown play with 1:21 left, and then Riley connected with Vereen again for the two-point conversion.
Early on, the offense got the ball at its own 2-yard line. The first unit went three-and-out on its first possession, with Riley overthrowing tight end Anthony Miller on first down, Vereen rushing for four yards on second down but Riley throwing it away under a heavy rush on third down.
The first unit tried it again immediately thereafter. After two Vereen runs netted three yards, Riley scrambled for 15 yards for a first down.
Then it was the second team’s turn. On first down from the 2, backup tight end Jarrett Sparks dropped a beautifully thrown ball by Brock Mansion that would have gone for a big gain. Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson rushed for no gain, and after a false start, Chris Moncrease nearly intercepted a pass by Mansion that was intended for tight end Skylar Curran.
Freshman Dasarte Yarnway rushed for 5 and 7 yards on the next possession, and time ran out for that session.
Later in practice, the offense tried to score from its own 40. Riley led the first unit to a pair of first downs, converting two third downs with successful pass plays. But on 3rd-and-15 from the 34, Riley made an ill-advised throw that was picked off by linebacker MIke Mohamed.
On the second team’s turn, Mansion overthrew Isi Sofele on a screen pass, Yarnway rushed for no gain and then Mansion was sacked by Trevor Guyton. On the second crack at it, Mansion overthrew Sofele again against a heavy blitz, and Mansion had to get rid of it on second down against more pass rush. Ernest Owusu sacked Mansion on third down.
During the second team’s two-minute drill, Mansion converted a fourth-and-8 with a 20-yard completion to DeBoskie-Johnson. A 10-yard pass to Verran Tucker put the ball at the 8-yard line, but a pair of incompletions, a Charles Johnson sack and another incompletion with three seconds left ended the drill.
Each kicker attemped one kickoff. Giorgio Tavecchio got it to the 3, David Seawright’s attempt went to the 6 while Vince D’Amato’s went to the 15.
All three kickers were successful on 27- and 34-yard field goals at the end of practice. Tavecchio and D’Amato made 41-yarders while Seawright was wide left.
Cal’s injury list grew a little more Saturday. Safety Marcus Ezeff went down with an ankle sprain near the end of the morning session. Brett Johnson sat out with a slight concussion and Josh Hill was sidelined because of an ankle sprain.
Jahvid Best suited up but didn’t practice. Jeff Tedford said Best simply is still resting his aches and pains. “He’s a little sore,” Tedford said. “We’re just trying to let his aches calm down a little bit.”
Tedford said he wasn’t concerned about the injuries. He felt it was normal for this time of camp.
“It’s been physical,” he said. “We practice at a high tempo all the time. It’s that time of camp right now. You start getting some tired legs and tweaked muscles. It’s to be expected.”
One good news on the injury front: Cornerback Darian Hagan was back after missing a couple of days.