The Bears had their third and final double-day session of training camp today. Essentially, the evening session was the last full-pad practice of training camp. Cal will go in helmets only Sunday and then wrap up camp with a scrimmage on Monday. The official end of camp is Saturday, punctuated by Contra Costa Times Fan Appreciation Day. But pragmatically, camp ends Monday because the team will split into scout teams and start preparing for Maryland on Wednesday.
The Associated Press preseason top 25 was released today and Cal checks in at No. 12, the same spot the Bears are at in the USA Today top 25. The ranking equals the second-highest spot the Bears have had in the AP preseason poll since Jeff Tedford took over at Cal in 2002. The Bears’ only higher preseason ranking was No. 9 in 2006.
Other Pac-10 entries include No. 4 USC and No. 16 Oregon. Oregon State was the first team listed among others receiving votes. Arizona received 13 votes to come in at No. 38 and UCLA is tied for 41st with seven votes.
The Bears moved their scheduled evening practice to the morning today, and there wasn’t a whole lot of news. No quarterback decision yet. Jeff Tedford said Kevin Riley took the first team reps once again today. I asked him to estimate how many first team reps Riley has taken during camp, and he guessed 70 percent. I followed up by asking if the burden is on Brock Mansion to take those first team reps away from Riley.
“It’s all been pretty even and pretty competitive as far as opportunity is concerned,” Tedford said. “We don’t look at it like (the other quarterbacks) have to take it from him. It’s who actually is doing the things on a consistent basis.”
So Tedford won’t say if the majority of the first team snaps going to Riley means anything. But last week, when asked a question about the depth chart, Tedford said a player moves up from the second team to the first team when he plays well enough on the second team to get a look on the first team. I’ll let you put two and two together.
By comparison, when Riley and Nate Longshore battled for the job last fall, they got pretty much equal first and second team reps all the way through camp.
–Tedford said running back Jahvid Best took some reps today. He didn’t take any hits, but he went through some team work near the beginning of practice.
“He’s getting closer,” Tedford said. “He’s feeling better. We’re going to continue to progress him. I would expect that he’ll be full go in the next couple of days.”
–Some injury updates: Cornerback Darian Hagan sat out with soreness in the knee that kept him out for a couple of days earlier in camp. Also, freshman running back Dasarte Yarnway has some kind of injury to his foot or toe. Tedford said he injured it a few days ago and actually practiced “fairly well” yesterday, but it got worse and he was scheduled to have an MRI on it at some point today and also see a foot specialist. … Wide receiver Alex Lagemann returned to practice in a yellow jersey after missing a couple of days with a bruised quadriceps muscle.
–Tedford said that Giorgio Tavecchio is leading the competition for kickoffs. Tavecchio also kicked a 47-yard field goal today to culminate a two-minute drill.
“He’s been the most consistent with (kickoffs),” Tedford said. “Giorgio has enough leg to get it there, but it’s consistency on where to hit the ball. It’s that consistency hitting the sweet spot to make sure it has the hang time and the distance that we’re looking for.”
–Tedford said today was the best day Bryan Anger has had punting the ball since camp began.
The Dec. 22 non-conference game between California and Kansas at Allen
Field House in Lawrence, Kan., will be televised on ESPN2 and will tip off a 6 p.m. PST.
Kansas is expected to enter the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, and the Golden Bears haven’t beaten the Jayhawks since a 65-62 victory in Kansas City, Mo., during the 1954-55 season. KU leads the series 14-3.
The Bears had their second double-day practice of camp today, going in full pads in the morning and shells at night. Most notable was a chance to talk to tight end Tad Smith, one day after finding out his college career might be over because of a torn ACL in his right knee.
Cal will face Syracuse in the semifinals of the 2009 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer event at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, with the chance to perhaps take on defending NCAA champion North Carolina in the title game.
The Gazelle Group, which organizes the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament, announced the pairings today for the Thursday, Nov. 19 semifinals. The Golden Bears (22-11) will face the Orange (28-10) in the 4 p.m. PST game, with UNC (34-4) battling Ohio State (22-11) in the late game.
The consolation and championship games will be played on Friday, Nov. 20.
This will be Cal’s first-ever meeting with Syracuse, which returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time since last year’s Big East Tournament, where it beat Connecticut in a six-overtime quarterfinal game. The Bears’ most recent appearance at MSG came in 1999, when they beat Clemson 61-60 to win the postseason NIT.
Cal opens its season with home games in the Coaches vs. Cancer event on Monday, Nov. 9 against Murray State, then Wednesday, Nov. 11 vs. Detroit. The Bears will advance to the semifinals in New York regardless of the results of the opening-round games.
Tickets for games at Madison Square Garden can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 212 307-7171.
Junior Eddie Miller, a walk-on guard from Antioch HS, has transferred to UC Davis. Miller played two seasons for the Bears, one each for Ben Braun and Mike Montgomery, but made the move because he wants more playing time. He saw action in just seven games last year, averaging 2.4 points, including a career-high eight vs. Harvard.
“It was a pretty tough decision to make,” Miller said Wednesday night. “My family and I talked about it a lot. I decided I wasn’t going to get the opportunity i was looking for here.”
At Cal, Miller would be playing behind starting guards Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher, along with backups Jorge Gutierrez and D.J. Seeley. At Davis, he will room with De La Salle HS grad Ryan Silva, a former summer-league teammate, and become eligible to play in 2010-11 after sitting out this season.
“They were a great two years. I got to experience a lot of good things,” Miller said of his time at Cal, during which he attended the NIT as a freshman and the NCAA Tournament as a sophomore. “It’s been an awesome experience.”
Miller, the son of Cal associate head track coach Ed Miller, said he has begun to think he would like to coach basketball someday. Wherever his career takes him, Miller said he never will lose his feelings toward Cal.
“I’ve been a Bear since I was born, since I was 2 years old on my dad’s shoulders to 21 years now,” Miller said. “This place feels like home. I’ll always be a Bear at heart.”
Cal senior point guard Jerome Randle, the top returning scorer in the Pac-10 Conference, has been named one of 50 preseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award, given to the nation’s top college basketball player.
Backcourt mate Patrick Christopher is not on the initial list — which can be adjusted later. The only other Pac-10 players included are Washington’s Isaiah Thomas and Arizona’s Nic Wise, meaning the Wooden folks don’t believe the conference has anyone work a lick who’s taller than 5-foot-10.
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.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford said today that tight end Tad Smith is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Smith suffered the injury during last night’s scrimmage.
Since Smith is a fifth-year senior, it appears his college career is over, unless he petitions the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.
Tedford said Anthony Miller will start the season as the starting tight end.