I’m pinch-hitting this evening for Jonathan, who is visiting a Sacramento area Cal booster group to talk football.
A fairly quiet Wednesday at practice. Here are a few highlights:
– Jeff Tedford said kickoff man Giorgio Tavecchio continues to tinker with his technique in hopes of getting the ball to the end zone. Freshman Vince D’Amato, who is handling field goals and PATs, also worked on kickoffs Wednesday, and both will go at it again Thursday before a decision is made regarding Saturday’s game against Eastern Washington.
“We’re tried to do some things with Giorgio’s approach so he’s a little more consistent,” Tedford said.
– Predictably, Tedford said he will not consider leaving tailback Jahvid Best on the field in a one-sided game just to pad his statistics for a possible run at the Heisman Trophy. Best hardly played in the second half of the Bears’ 52-13 rout of Maryland last Saturday.
“This is about the team. If we’re up by 40 points, we’re not going to have Jahvid in the game. It’s a long season and his health is important,” Tedford said. “So we’re going to do what it takes to create some depth on this team and let everybody play if the situation fits.
“(There’s no) thought of trying to pad Jahvid’s numbers. He’ll do what he has to do during game-time situations.”
– Tedford praised the play of Best’s understudy, sophomore Shane Vereen, who totaled 94 yards rushing and receiving on 13 touches against the Terps.
“We’ve been real fortunate here over the years to have a tandem of backs, and this year is no different,” Tedford said. “Anytime you can spell your starter and not fall off, it’s a great luxury. That’s true of Shane. Shane’s a great player. He can run between the tackles, outside, can catch the football, can do it all. He’s very capable of doing anything we do.”
Added Best, “We want our group to stand out. Shane’s a great running back. He has the same home-run ability that I have. Any play, bam, he’s gone for six points. It’s great that we have weapons like that on offense.”
Best said when he comes out for a breather, he is afraid not to keep one eye on the field. “I don’t want to take a play off (from watching) because I know he can hit a home run at any moment and I want to be down there ready to celebrate.”
– Tedford stressed that Cal’s receivers play a big role in the running game, especially when they can provide downfield blocking. He noted Verran Tucker’s efforts leading Best on his long TD run and Marvin Jones’ work on a big gainer by Vereen.
“It’s effort. It’s playing snap to whistle,” he said. “Any long runs that any of our players have, typically it’s because our receivers are downfield doing their job. We’ve done a nice job of that and it was again evident the other night, where the receivers were hustling.”
– Asked how much of a boost quarterback Kevin Riley gained when receivers made several spectacular catches, Tedford said the confidence he gains is in his willingness to to go those receivers.
“All those catches the other day, they were great catches, but they were great reads by the quarterback as well,” he said. “It gives you confidence as a quarterback that your guys are going to make a play if it’s close coverage.”