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.