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Football: Training camp report — Aug. 23

This is my third season covering Cal and this is the most content and confident I can remember Jeff Tedford at this juncture of training camp.

Tedford has used the past couple of practices to go heavy on game situations, almost putting his players through a dress rehearsal for the season. And he’s decided to forgo Monday’s final scrimmage for another dress rehearsal in helmets only.

Tedford has made game situations a point of emphasis this fall. He’s had an officiating crew at numerous practices, allowing the coaches to get off the field and let the players run the show. Part of that is because he feels the team needs to be better prepared for the myriad situations that arise over the course of a game. But part of that also is because Tedford feels comfortable leaving things in his players hands. That’s because his team is experienced, but I get the feeling also because Tedford has confidence in this team.

Tedford said Saturday that he’s basically seen enough. He knows where his team stands. He doesn’t need to evaluate personnel anymore. He needs to start getting them ready for the season.

He reiterated that again tonight. That’s one of the reasons why he doesn’t feel the need to scrimmage. He said it’s also because players are banged up around this time of camp, but they are banged up every year around this time. The fact that he canceled the scrimmage and felt comfortable in stopping personnel evaluations by Saturday tells me that he is feeling pretty good about this team.

“I feel really good about the work that we’ve gotten done throughout camp,” Tedford said tonight. “We’ve been pretty physical, we’re banged up quite a bit and we’ve hit the point where everybody’s pretty banged up. So now it’s time to get them fresh, get their minds right as far as covering every situation and start focusing our attention on Maryland.”

In essence, tomorrow will be the end of training camp, even though the calendar officially says it ends Saturday. The team will have the day off Tuesday. When they return on Wednesday, they will begin preparing for Maryland. Scout teams will be formed and the depth chart will take shape.

It’s after that practice that Tedford will tell the world who he has chosen as his quarterback. All signs still point to Kevin Riley. He continues to get the first reps at practice and really there’s nothing Brock Mansion has done to suggest it’s enough to overcome Riley’s experience and ability. The fact that he hasn’t earned more first team reps is enough evidence.

But there are other positions to watch, although most of those appear to be pretty set. Tedford said the other day that “as of right now,” Matt Summers-Gavin is the left guard and Justin Cheadle is the right guard. They still are today, and they should still be on Wednesday.

Brian Holley looks like he will win the fullback job, although Tedford allowed for a situation where the job could be shared between him and Will Kapp. Kapp has been slowed by a shoulder injury lately, although he is still practicing.

It looks like Marvin Jones and Nyan Boateng are still the top two receivers, but it will be interesting to see who the No. 3 guys is on Sept. 5. Alex Lagemann had a strong chance to be that guy but he has been in and out of the lineup lately with a bruised quad. Don’t be surprised if Verran Tucker, the forgotten man of the spring, contributes strongly again this season. He’s been playing very well during the latter stages of camp. Jeremy Ross, who has shown improvement through camp, also is in that mix.

The most fluid position continues to be linebacker. With the new media policies, it’s a little harder to get a gauge on the depth chart on a day-to-day basis, but it looks like Mike Mohamed, Eddie Young and Mychal Kendricks are starters. It’s just a matter of where. Last we spoke to defensive coordinator Bob Gregory, he had Mohamed and Young on the outside with Kendricks and D.J. Holt on the inside. He said he intended to experiment with more combinations, but I haven’t been able to see the results of that yet. I plan on trying to catch up with Gregory tomorrow.

–Some unfortunate injury news: As feared, freshman running back Dasarte Yarnway will need to undergo surgery to repair a torn tendon in his foot and miss the season. Yarnway may have redshirted anyway, but this guarantees it. It’s the same injury that knocked out offensive lineman Chris Guarnero last season.

–Safety Marcus Ezeff sprained his ankle for the second time in camp. Like the last time, Tedford doesn’t expect it to be serious and expects him back in a few days. … Young sat out Sunday with a mild concussion. … Backup defensive end Ernest Owusu has a minor leg injury, according to Tedford.

–Tedford said Jahvid Best reported no ill-effects today, the day after returning to a full-contact practice.

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.

  • Jan K Oski

    Dang… that’s a bummer about Yarnway. I hate to see a bright star go out due to injury, while they’re showing an impressive ability to grasp this higher level of play.

    Great news about the WR corps. I had my doubts, but I think we are all going to see a vast improvement from last year. I trust that Ludwig will bring out the best in them.

    Go BEARS!

  • abe

    lets just hope that the entire season doesn’t come down to some short yard play that ends up not succeeding due to a lack of some power running…of course it doesn’t help that we are also green at full back.

  • rollonubears

    it’s time to get rid of that crappy turf. it’s got to be a contributing factor to these toe, ankle, knee and leg injuries. natural grass now puts you at an advantage. you’re better prepared to play road games on real turf, you gat better grip on the fake stuff on the road, and the teams that play on the fake stuff are at a disadvantage when they come to your place. most of our losses in the last few years came on natural grass anyway, and a lot of them were because of slips and falls on it.

  • Davidson

    I’m glad Tedford canceled the last scrimmage. We know what we have, and we don’t need our guys banging against each other much longer. Best doesn’t need any more practice being tackled and hit by our own defense.

    It’s now all about execution and I’m glad the coach is taking time to go through all the little things at the end.

    To make an analogy to college life…before your final…it’s like taking the last few days to review and go over what you have learned and have it all sink in…as opposed to furiously and desperately taking an all nighter to cram.

  • ToparchiBear

    I am very concern. The season has not even started yet, but, the injuries are cripping in. I don’t know if Cal is deep enough to sustain the entire season. Injuries were the plag of the past few seasons. I really pray that the team will be strong enough and keep intact through the end. Especially, Best, His Heisman hope is depending on his endurance all the way.
    And, in order to keep the offense balance. The WR corp, especially Jones must last the entire season.

    Go Bears!

  • GoldenBear 77

    As good as Tedford has been since he first stepped on the campus, the thing that impresses me most is that he is continually gaining in confidence, and learning. You can actually see him growing in the job. Way to change the plan when it no longer fits! Go Bears!

  • Golden Bear

    Keep your eye on Verran Tucker. He is the sleeper of the WR’s and he’s had a tough time adjusting to all that is Cal, but this summer everything came together. He’s physically and mentally ready to shine.

  • Davidson

    I hope Tucker ends up being the #3 WR, between him, Lage and Ross.

    Jones, Boateng, Tucker. DO IT!

  • Davidson

    JO, is there any indication of Moncrease will see the field this year? How did he look in practice?

    Is his speed and hitting legit? Is he just too green to play this year?

  • Bears

    Yarnway going down sucks but that’s the risk of sports. Hope he has a speedy strong recovery.
    Love the move to give the team a break and let them rest up a bit. It’s a long year for every single D1 football team. The best teams are usually the deepest and freshest. We know the team has talent, now the program is improving on the little things as they get more talented.
    Will be fun to watch!

  • jpf

    Looks like Holt is beating out Devin Bishop? I know he was emerging as a vocal leader. Its too bad his pedigree isn’t quite in line with his brother’s.

  • rollonubears

    is isi sofele supposed to be the 3rd TB?

  • abe

    its amazing that Tucker is not even in the back up role considering the fact that in my opinion as far as catching balls and running routes are concerned he was probably the best performer. Jones might be the best receiver this year, but i have yet to watch him play and if my life depended on it i would name Tucker #1 base on what i have seen. i think his lagging behind has more to do him missing spring ball due to academics that the football field hence why i wouldn’t be surprised if he overachieves this season and shock everyone.

  • Davidson

    Isi is playing WR.

    I think Tucker is severely underrated. He was the most electrifying and dependable receiver they had last year.

    His 1st caught EVER was a TD. He amazing catch after catch, and let’s not forget his 1 hander against USC and 76 yarder against Miami (big plays big opponents).

  • Mike W

    Guys -

    been out of the loop for a few weeks. Where is Mike Calvin on the depth chart? Surprised that JO mentioned Lagemann but no Calvin who made great strides last year.

  • Lady Bear

    Mike W – Sadly, I think Calvin is injured again.

  • ToparchiBear

    Davidson, 100% agreeing with you. Execustion on Offense. I want to see more un-predictable play, and more action play. Last few years’s play books were so predictable and mundane. Hope that new Offensive coordinator provides new life into the play book.

    Go Bears!

  • Steve W

    What happened to Mark Boskovich at guard? Wasn’t he the starting guard from last year? Was he beat out at the position this year, and why, or is he injured?

    I am assuming that Tepper and Schwartz are set at the tackles. Haven’t heard much about the O-line and how they are playing in camp. Would appreciate an update.

  • CalAlum97

    That’s terrible news about Yarnway. In my opinion the problem is twofold, with Yarnway potentially losing game experience and definitely losing experience in Tedford’s system. Assuming he cannot practice throughout much, if not all, of this season, he’ll be forced to learn in a non particpatory manner (by watching players) and studying the playbook. And while observation and studying the playbook are important pieces of a player’s development, he really needs to fully participate in drills, game scenarios, full speed contact and decision making, etc. Without doing so, a player can really fall behind. He seems to have so much potential, I’d hate to see him start his sophomore year still struggling to learn the system. Bummer.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Davidson, Moncrease doesn’t have much of a chance this season, given the Bears’ depth there. I do remember one pretty hard hit he had during camp. Bottom line though is he hasn’t gotten enough reps to really make a fair conclusion at this point.
    Rollon, Sofele has been working strictly with the receivers.
    Mike, Calvin had his knee scoped and is out for about another week. Doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for the opener.
    Steve, Summers-Gavin simply beat Boskovich out. Boskovich is backing up Summers-Gavin. Justin Cheadle is the other guard. Mike Tepper and Mitchell Schwartz are the tackles with Chris Guarnero at center.