Everyone involved says Mike Mohamed will play Friday night, and I have no reason to believe he won’t. But anytime a guy misses an entire week of practice, you have to wonder.
Granted, if there is anyone on the roster who could probably afford to miss the reps during practice and still play effectively in a game, it’s Mohamed. This is only his second year as a starter, but he might as well have been on in 2008 when he backed up all four linebacker spots and probably saw more playing time than any of the starters. Even in 2007, as a redshirt freshman, he played a lot as a reserve.
One thing is for sure: The Bears need him to play in this game. They need him to play in every game, but especially this one. Not only does he have the speed to counteract Nevada’s pistol offense, he has the experience and intelligence to digest what the Wolf Pack are trying to do on offense.
The Bears not only need him to play, they need him to be 100 percent. Nevada is not the kind of offense you can face at half-speed. And that will be something to watch because a sprained toe can really limit a player. It may not seem like much, but athletes will tell you that a sprained toe is one of the toughest injuries to play through because you need it to push off. All of Cal’s defensive players will need that burst to be on top of what Nevada will throw at them.
“It’s not something you want to aggravate,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “We just want to make sure we rest it.”
Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast spoke to reporters today about the challenge of taking on Nevada’s offense. Here’s a sampling of what he had to say:
On Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick:
“He creates a lot of problems. He’s a very smart quarterback. He’s obviously a general out there on the field with communication. He runs their offense well and he sees the field well. He has very good speed and can make people miss. He has an extremely strong arm.”
On preparing for an offense like Nevada’s:
“It’s just about going out and executing what you do better than what they do. That’s our goal every week regardless of the offensive scheme. We try to run our defense better than the other team runs their offense. That’s what we preach week in and week out. This will be no different of a challenge.”
On whether he senses heightened excitement from his players:
“They know what kind of challenge it is. We didn’t have to bring it to their attention too loudly. They know what is at stake. They know we’re going to have our hands full with a very potent offense. We have to go in there and play our game.”