Basketball: Bears lose Wiltjer to Kentucky

A tough recruiting setback for the Golden Bears on Saturday afternoon when Kyle Wiltjer, a 6-9, 225-pound power forward with superb shooting and passing skills, chose Kentucky over Cal and Wake Forest.

Mike Montgomery and his staff have been courting Wiltjer, a senior at Jesuit HS in Portland, for well over a year. He is the big man they hoped to add to the strong class of perimeter players who begin their freshmen seasons this year.

And he is going to Lexington, where he isn’t even the top power forward in the Wildcats’ 2011 class. That distinction belongs to Chicago prep Anthony Davis, rated the No. 1 overall prospect in the country by Scout.com.

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Football: Friday quick hitters

Some quick notes from this morning’s practice:

  • Linebacker Mychal Kendricks sat out with back spasms. Jeff Tedford didn’t think it was something that would linger.
  • Tedford said Josh Hill won the starting spot at free safety because of his understanding of the defense. He said defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast recommended he move to safety from cornerback so he could be a quarterback on the field.
  • Add yet another true freshman to the list of non-redshirts: Tedford said safety Michael Coley will be in the rotation, probably as a nickel back.

Football: Depth chart issues

There are some conflicts between the official depth chart that has been released and what Jeff Tedford told us yesterday. Some of that, Tedford said today, is because a few things still haven’t been resolved. “Talk to me next Thursday,” he said.

A couple of points:

  • Tedford said not to make too much of the fact that Brian Schenke is listed at right guard. He said Justin Cheadle is still very much in the mix to start and they will decide that next week. But it does look like Schwenke will be playing one of the guard positions.
  • Bryant Nnabufie is listed as the backup at both cornerback spots. That was a typo/oversight. Steve Williams is the other backup.
  • Josh Hill is indeed one of the starting safeties. Sean Cattouse has dropped into a backup role, partly because he missed a good chunk of camp with a pulled hamstring.
  • Chris Conte is the No. 2 kick returner, but he is the “off returner,” meaning he is primarily an extra blocker.

Football: Major change to practice routine

The obvious news of the day was the setting of the depth chart, which we covered earlier. But there was something else that I found quite significant that may get lost with today’s discussion of the starting lineup.

As I watched the final 10 minutes of practice today, I noticed that no players were wearing scout team jerseys. It was clear the offense and defense was going against UC Davis’ simulated defense and offense because players were checking cards and lining up accordingly. But usually, the scout team each week wears the colors of the upcoming opponent.

There is an explanation. The Bears aren’t going to utilize scout team players as much this season. Instead, coach Jeff Tedford wants to simulate the speed of real games more effectively, so he’s going to have his offense and defense go against the real defense and offense. So the Bears will still be going against the opponent’s schemes, they will just be doing so against presumably better players.

Tedford said the No. 2 defense will serve as the scout team for the No. 1 offense, and the No. 2 offense will do the same for the No. 1 defense. So if the Bears are going up against a good defensive end one week, the offense could see someone like Trevor Guyton on the other side, not a freshman on the scout team. Tedford believes practicing this way will have his players better prepared for games.

In the meantime, younger  players who are redshirting that typically would be on the scout team are instead going to run plays against each other.

Tedford said he is making the change not only to better simulate the speed and tempo of a game, but it’s also another way to put an extra focus on competition at practice.


Football: Pre-chat news

Don’t forget our live chat coming up in less than an hour.

Before we do, lots of news after practice today as Cal has set its depth chart. I will have a much more thorough report later, but here are the highlights:

  • Starting cornerbacks are Darian Hagan and Marc Anthony
  • Keith Browner is the starting outside  linebacker on the weakside
  • Kendrick Payne is the starter at nose tackle. Ernest Owusu and Deandre Coleman will share the defensive end spot opposite Cameron Jordan.
  • Sean Cattouse, Chris Conte, Josh Hill and D.J. Campbell will all be treated as starters and there will be a lot of mixing and matching. Cattouse and D.J. Campbell are the free safeties. Conte and Hill are the strong safeties.
  • The starting left guard will be either Brian Schwenke or Dominic Galas. That’s even when Matt Summers-Gavin returns from his knee injury. When he returns, he will move to right tackle.
  • Keenan Allen will start at wide receiver opposite Marvin Jones. Jeremy Ross is the No. 3 receiver.
  • JC transfer Coleman Edmond will play at wide receiver. The team will take a wait-and-see approach with true freshman Tevin Carter and Kaelin Clay. They will continue to get reps but still could redshirt if they aren’t used.
  • Isi Sofele is the backup running back and the No. 1 kick returner. Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson is the No. 3 running back.
  • Jeremy Ross is the No. 1 punt returner.
  • Eric Stevens is the No. 1 fullback, but he will share time with Will Kapp. Kapp is still getting back to full speed after his concussion.
  • Giorgio Tavecchio is the field goal kicker. He’s also the kickoff guy, but is getting pushed by freshman Jed Barnett.