The Bears got back together tonight after the weekend off and seemed to have an extra bounce in their step. After the offense wrapped up the final period of practice going against the scout team defense, they gathered in a huddle and began jumping and chanting, as though they would before taking the field before a game. Moments later, the defense did the same thing. Then the whole team converged and punctuated it with some more hooting and hollering before breaking into stretch position to wrap up practice.
Coach Jeff Tedford had said while he wanted his players to spend some time thinking about UCLA over the weekend, he also wanted them to get away from the game a bit and “decompress” so they would come back to the practice field refreshed.
“I felt like they came back today pretty refreshed and ready to go,” Tedford said. “We got a little bit of the game plan in last week so they were able to focus on a little of that today. It gives them an extra day. They were ready to practice.”
The Bears will do things a little differently this week by taking busses down to UCLA instead of their usual charter flight. The decision was made in an effort to cut some costs in light of the current economy. But their expenses won’t be cut quite as much because the team has decided to travel Thursday night rather than Friday, which means an extra night in a hotel.
Tedford said the decision to leave Thursday was made after Monday’s announcement that the game will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. He feared too late an arrival Friday might make the team feel rushed for kickoff, something he thought might have been a problem on last year’s road trip to Maryland.
“We are going Thursday night so we don’t run into a deal of bussing down there late Friday, having a late walkthrough and then having a 12:30 game,” Tedford said. “We will for sure have gotten over the bus ride. I don’t think the bus ride will be an issue. If anything, the bus ride will let us have some position meetings. It gives us some extra time to all be together.”
Tedford said the original idea of bussing to Los Angeles was something that was suggested to him and he felt the program should do its part in helping the university troubled by the economy.
“We definitely want to do our part,” he said. “To do our part to alleviate some of the issues …we have a responsibility. But when it became a 12:30 game, we felt like it was necessary to go on Thursday.”
The Thursday departure won’t affect the Bears’ weekly routine. They will still practice at their normal time on Thursday and drive down that night. It will allow Cal to hold its Friday walkthrough at the Rose Bowl around the same time as kickoff.
Tedford said that left guard Matt Summers-Gavin (shoulder) and wide receiver Nyan Boateng (foot) still look promising to return Saturday. Both are doing more at practice but are still limited as of now. Boateng ran some routes on Sunday night and Tedford said he should be able to do even more at Tuesday’s practice. Summers-Gavin hasn’t participated in contact drills yet but may do so Tuesday.
But Boateng’s return might only offset another absence, as wide receiver Verran Tucker missed practice Sunday with what Tedford called a recurring calf problem. Tedford said Tucker has been experiencing intermittent swelling his calf for the past couple of weeks. Tucker was scheduled to see a doctor after practice tonight.
Tedford also had said reserve tight end Spencer Ladner may be back this week, but he said tonight that he’s not ready.