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Football: Training camp report — Aug. 19

By Jonathan Okanes
Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 at 4:26 pm in Training camp.

For the first day of limited media access, there sure was a lot going on today.

First off, I posted previously that tight end Tad Smith is out for the season. He wasn’t at practice so I didn’t get a chance to speak with him. It remains to be seen if he will petition for a sixth year.

But on the day the Bears lost one tight end, they got one back as Spencer Ladner returned in limited capacity with a yellow jersey. During the 20 minutes we were allowed to view practice at the beginning, Ladner went through all the individual drills with the tight ends.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford seemed optimistic that Cal still has enough depth at tight end to make up for the loss of Smith.

“It’s nice getting Spencer back,” he said. “Skylar has really stepped up in this camp, thankfully. You have Anthony (Miller), you have Skylar, you have Spencer, you have (Jarrett) Sparks and you have (Garry) Graffort. All those guys are in the mix, and they’ve all done pretty well.”

–Tedford still hasn’t named a starting quarterback but he did acknowledge Wednesday that redshirt freshman Beau Sweeney isn’t really in the mix.

“I’d say it’s fair to say that Kevin and Brock are leading right now, mainly because of their experience,” he said. “Beau is going to be a really good player. We feel like we can win games with Beau. Right now, those other guys are ahead with game management. Beau is doing a great job. We feel like we’re in really good shape with those three guys.”

Tedford said not to draw any conclusions from the fact that Riley has received the bulk of the first team snaps in practice. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he names Riley the starter by the end of the week.

–There was a distinct shake-up on defense after Tuesday’s scrimmage. Defensive end Cameron Jordan was working with the second team Wednesday. Trevor Guyton had taken his place with the startesr.

I asked defensive coordinator Bob Gregory what to make of the switch, and he was disappointed with Jordan’s effort in the scrimmage. He said the position is still being evaluated, but if the Bears were to play today, he’d start Guyton over Jordan.

“They will be evaluated every day like everyone,” Gregory said. “It could change. Trevor has gotten better. He had a really good scrimmage in terms of playing the run and striking blockers. With Cam, he needs to do those things and he’s certainly capable of doing those things. We need to see more of that out of him.”

Gregory has spent the past two years talking about the need for Jordan to take the game more seriously. Jordan is a fun-loving guy, and Gregory appreciates that side of him. But Gregory believes Jordan could really become a star if he were to channel some of that desire to have fun into improved focus on the field.

“He needs to take practice more seriously,” Gregory said. “Certainly, he’s a very talented guy and a very good kid. He just needs to step up his mental aspect of the game.”

Jordan acknowledged that he didn’t have a very good scrimmage and pledged to use the demotion as motivation.

“I think for a quick second I almost got content running with the ones and that just being my spot,” Jordan said. “It made me realize there’s always competition out there. I need to get back to where I was. I feel re-motivated, to say the least.”

Jordan says he believes he practices hard but needs to demonstrate more maturity and leadership, like his counterpart Tyson Alualu.

Jordan said he was disappointed with his performance in the scrimmage after watching himself on film.

“I was being really, really lazy,” he said. “I won’t do that again.”

It also appears the situation at linebacker is taking on some new wrinkles. Nobody has really emerged at weakside outside linebacker, so Mike Mohamed has moved into that spot for now. D.J. Holt has taken Mohamed’s spot on the inside and Devin Bishop is seeing more inside reps as well.

“I think Mohamed is a really athletic guy who can come off the edge,” Gregory said. “He can play any position. We want to play our best four linebackers. It doesn’t mean Mike is never going to play inside again. We kind of felt like we need to step up our game in that spot a little bit.”

The Bears are also experimenting with defensive end Keith Browner as a rush linebacker. Browner got some reps there during the scrimmage and again Wednesday.

“He’s a big guy who can run,” Gregory said. “There’s certainly a place for him there.”

Gregory said he is going to take a look at this current linebacker combination for a few days and then switch things up some more until he finds the right combination.

“Everybody has strengths in some areas and everybody has weaknesses in some areas,” Gregory said. “We’re just trying to find the guy who has more strengths than weaknesses.”

–A few other notes: Jahvid Best did a little more running on his own today and Tedford said he’s “changing directions and feeling a lot better.” … Wide receiver Alex Lagemann sat out practice with a bruised quadriceps muscle.  … The Bears are healthier than they’ve been in  a week. Marcus Ezeff, Brett Johnson, Chris Conte, Mychal Kendricks and Nyan Boateng are all back to practicing without limitation. … Tedford said the kicking competition is still “completely up in the air.”

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  • Rookie

    JO great report for only having 30 minutes to see.

    I sure hope Jordan steps up, from what I say last season he has a ton of talent. Kinda sad to see it wasted.

    JO, do you think if Riley would have thrown 15/16 for 21 instead of 11-21 yesterday, that JT would have named him the starter today. It seem to me that 11-21 is kind of like last year… a bit too low of a completion %

    To piggy back off of that, in the scrimage were some of Riley’s incompletions droped balls or overthrown. I am wondering if the issue is Riley’s accuracey or if its more with the WR ability to grab them.

  • Bears

    Sure was a lot going on today. Great report.
    Sad news about Tad though, poor guy has been snake bit. Hope he takes some time after surgery and figures out what’s in his best interests for the future. Hope he stays with the team this fall and provides leadership and motivation. An injured guy with a great attitude can still help the team in many ways. Good luck Tad.
    Go Bears!

  • Jethro

    Tad Smith is a good football player and probably a good guy. Why else would the coaches work so hard to find a place for him to play? He got some playing time at DL, then moved to TE where he was/is the best blocker at that position. I’m not sure any of these guys can step up and match that skill.

    He should come back for a 6th year. What could be better than hanging around college and playing football with all expenses paid?

  • Will

    Good luck to Tad. It’s a tough pill to swallow for a hard worker like him, but he’ll thrive in the real world, being the foucused [sic] individual that he is.

  • Golden Bear

    I spoke to a player today. He told me Riley is the man, that the whole team is behind him. He said the team is feeling very strong — much more confident than he’s ever seen in summer camp before.

    These are good players. I like their confidence — they don’t need to go bragging that they are responsible for stuff or take credit for stuff they don’t do. That’s what makes them good men.

  • Davidson

    Golden Bear, you’re getting me jazzed up, gameday is only 17 days away! GO BEARS!!

  • abe

    Sucks for Tad, man I wish you the best. Jordan on the other hand is healthy and talented and he is wasting it all, that is even more sad. I was under the impression that DL was one of the decided positions on the team, so I am a little surprised by the news about his demotion. Lets hope Jordan will get his act together and allow his potential to shine. Anyhow thanks for the rather extensive report JO, especially considering the 30 minute limit.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    The real test will start with Minnesota away game. Count on a loss. Then 3 more losses – Oregon, USC and pucla. We will see at that point in time how strong and confident the team feels. The Greatest Collapse in College Football History Part Deux is coming. Stay tuned.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    No I did not say you would lose your first 4 games. I do believe you will lose…

    Minnesota – away. This is another Maryland type game
    Oregon – away. They are gunning for you bigtime
    USC – home. You don’t have the skill position players to beat us
    pucla – Tedford can’t get it down down in Pasadena even when playing an underwhelming pucla team (which is always the case).

  • Golden Bear

    Nice job, JO. Thanks.
    Oh, and good posting too. :)

  • jpf

    Thanks JO, Love the reports per usual. Love to read INTELLIGENT commentary too. Too bad some lesser educated folk from down south have trouble with providing that.

    Doesn’t like JT was super worried about Tad, although it is always a blow to lose a senior to injury (if for nothing but injury issues).

    I’d love to hear more about Jordan’s work ethic and motivation over the coming weeks especially when the media is there (i.e. proving to everyone nationally he is for real–because the guy is an INCREDIBLE talent).

  • ToparchiBear

    I disagree with you, MoreN…
    Cal has much greater chance this year than any other year. The QB controversy is not there for distraction. Riley is much improved. Back up QB, Mansion is solid and perform well in fall camp. all the play maker receivers are back. They are deep on running back. The defense is superb and fast.

    If they can keep healthy all season, They will rock and go all the way.

    Go Bears!

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Rookie, some of his passes were inaccurate but some were the receivers fault. Others were nice break-ups by the defense. But I think Riley could have gone 21-for-21 and Tedford still wouldn’t have named him. He just doesn’t seem ready to name him yet.

  • Rookie

    JO – Thanks