Football: Thursday report

The biggest question heading into Saturday’s game at Oregon State is what the starting secondary will look like. Steve Williams got his first career start at cornerback in place of Darian Hagan last week against Arizona State, and it’s looking like that will happen again against the Beavers.

Jeff Tedford wasn’t ready to name his starting defensive backs after practice today, but even the depth chart on Cal’s weekly game notes have been updated to have Williams starting over Hagan. But Tedford still said the position will be decided based on performance during practice.

Also, will it be Sean Cattouse or Josh Hill starting at free safety? Both were starters last week as Cal employed the nickel defense throughout the game. But the Bears will go back to their conventional base defense this week. Cattouse said earlier in the week he expected to start, but all Tedford said today was Cattouse had taken some No. 1 reps during the week. Still, expect Cattouse to start.

I posted earlier that linebacker Mike Mohamed had been named one of 16 finalists for the Campbell Trophy, given to the best football scholar-athlete in the country. I don’t know how good a chance he has to actually win, but what a story that would be to have two of the past three winners  come from one school. Former Cal center Alex Mack won the award when it was called the Draddy Award in 2008. My sense is Mack was a stronger candidate than Mohamed. Nothing against Mohamed, I just remember not feeling all that surprised when Mack won it. His reputation was so strong.

By all accounts, Cal had a pretty good week of practice. Of course, many will be interested in how the Bears start Saturday’s game with so much focus on their road woes. Of their four road games so far, this one seems the most winnable. I was high on Oregon St. before the season, but the loss of wide receiver James Rodgers is devastating. And the Beavers have played surprisingly bad defense, ranking 119th out of 120 FBS teams. That being said, Oregon St. played a brutal nonconference schedule with games against TCU and Boise State.

The Bears have been pretty good against the run this season and did a good job of shutting down Jacquizz Rodgers last season. If they can do that again this year, they should be in pretty good shape because OSU’s passing game isn’t what it was last year with former quarterback Sean Canfield running the show and the loss of Rodgers.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.