Not surprisngly, much of the discussion at today’s weekly press luncheon still focused on Jahvid Best. The latest is Best is still recovering at his parents home in Vallejo, and there doesn’t appear to be any imminent change in that situation. Jeff Tedford said Best will wait until he’s completely feeling better before he even entertains the notion of returning to classes, let alone football. Tedford has been communicating with Best via text messages and Best told him this morning that he’s feeling a little better, but still has a stiff back and a minor headache. It sounds like the back is the thing that is bothering him the most, not surprising when you think about the way he landed.
Even though all we know for sure is Best won’t play Saturday against Arizona, it doesn’t appear he’s anywhere near even thinking about returning to football right now. Tedford said he and Best haven’t even talked about when he might come back, or even show up to practice just to see his teammates. From listenting to Tedford talk today, I’d be surprised if Best makes an appearance at practice or the locker room this week.
Tedford’s message today was simple: The idea of Best on a football field is the furthest thing from his mind right now. All energy is being devoted to Best getting healthy and recovering from such a serious injury. Tedford said “If he doesn’t play again this year, so be it.”
As far as Best’s progress, Tedford said it’s a day-to-day evaluation and much of it is determined simply by how Best feels. He said the team’s medical staff is in constant communication with Best and he did have some kind of follow-up appointment coming, but wasn’t sure exactly when it was.
On to other non-Best related news, Tedford seemed optimistic that left guard Matt Summers-Gavin could return this week after a two-week absence because of a sprained shoulder (he also missed the USC game with the same injury). From the portion of practice I watched today, Summers-Gavin was practicing in full. That’s a good sign, because he didn’t practice at all the past two weeks. As for nose tackle Derrick Hill and tight end Anthony Miller, Tedford said they are both day-to-day. Tedford reiterated there is a chance Miller could return this week, meaning he would miss just one game after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
–On paper, the biggest mismatch of Saturday’s game looks like Arizona’s pass protection against Cal’s pass pressure. The Wildcats enter the game having allowed just four sacks all season, tied for first in the country. And the Bears haven’t been getting much pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
But Tedford said part of Arizona’s strong sacks allowed total is because the Wildcats employ a quick-passing offense, using screens and short routes with quarterback Nick Foles getting the ball out in a hurry. That has made it hard for opposing defenses to get to the quarterback. With that in mind, you may see Cal do what it did against Eastern Washington — stick with a three man rush and drop eight in coverage. EWU had the same type of pass offense, and when the Bears actually decided not to commit as many guys to the rush, they shut them down.
That being said, Tedford still said the Bears can’t just abandon the pass rush and will have to mix up their blitzes with when they drop into coverage.
–Tedford has always been committed to using two running backs, and that won’t change now that Best is out. Expect to see redshirt freshman Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson spell Shane Vereen from time to time.
–Three players came to Tuesday’s media luncheon — left tackle Mike Tepper, linebacker Eddie Young and fullback Brian Holley. I will have complete transcriptions tomorrow, but Tepper had the quote of the day in describing Jahvid Best’s popularity in the locker room. Best is widely respected and well-liked among teammates.
“He’s one of those guys who has a special aura around him,” Tepper said. “He’s not your T.O. He’s very humble, very quiet. When he walks into a room, he doesn’t really need to say very much because everybody knows he’s there. So when that’s away, it’s a little different. You notice his absence.”
–Here’s the transcription of Jeff Tedford’s comments today. Quarterback Kevin Riley is usually included here, but he coudn’t make the luncheon today because of a conflict.