While cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson sat out another practice Wednesday, Cal actually is suddenly healthier than it has been almost all season.
For the first time this season, reserve tight end Spencer Ladner practiced in full capacity. Ladner had been making incremental strides the past couple of weeks, but he was cleared by doctors Wednesday to practice without limitation.
In addtion, second-string nose guard Kendrick Payne also is back to practicing fully for the first time in weeks. Even reserve linebacker Robert Mullins is back in full capacity.
Neither of these developments should have a major impact right away. Ladner will take awhile to get into midseason form, and he still has Anthony Miller and Skylar Curran ahead of him. But Cal coach Jeff Tedford said Ladner was having a good training camp before he suffered a strained knee and could have been in the playing rotation this season.
“He was working his way into the rotation,” Tedford said. “He was having a really good camp before he got hurt.”
Aaron Tipoti still is taking the second team reps at nose guard as Payne (plantar fasciitis) works his way back into shape. Mullins, who had been taking consistent second-team reps during camp before incurring a knee injury, figures to be down on the depth chart for awhile.
As for Thompson, Tedford said all indications are that Thompson (back bruise) still will play against Washington State on Saturday. Tedford was unsure if Thompson would practice Thursday.
“Every day it’s progressing, but it’s still sore,” Tedford said. “It all depends on how he feels in the morning, how he feels before practice. You just don’t know.”
It looks like kicking duties will return to Giorgio Tavecchio this week. Starter Vince D’Amato hasn’t kicked yet this week because of a sprained shoulder and Tavecchio acquitted himself well last week after D’Amato got hurt.
Left guard Matt Summers-Gavin is back wearing a yellow jersey at practice, meaning he is limited. Summers-Gavin played against UCLA after missing the USC game with a shoulder sprain, but Tedford said “he’s not quite 100 percent.”
Wednesday is the day Jahvid Best speaks to the press. Of course, when Cal fans think about last year’s rout of Washington State, they first think about Best’s 80-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
“It was just blocked perfectly and I had a one on one with a safety about five yards past the line of scrimmage and i was able to make him miss,” Best said. “It was a footrace from there.”:
That was the beginning of a 200-yard game from Best, who is coming off a 102-yard performance against UCLA. Ninety-three of those yards came on one play.
Best said he was bothered by dehydration and asthma during the game and had several rushes where he lost yardage. But he said that was simply due to UCLA’s tough defense.
“They have a great defense,” Best said. “They were getting penetration. They had a great scheme.”
But Shane Vereen seemed to be able to run upfield all day long, finishing with 154 yards on 17 carries. Vereen said that was simply because he happened to be on the field when the Bears made the right calls against the Bruins’ defense.
“I think a lot of it has to do with who’s in at specific times,” Vereen said. “I think if Jahvid was in on the plays I was in, he would have just as much success.”