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Football: Spring practice preview — special teams

By Jonathan Okanes
Monday, March 28th, 2011 at 9:21 pm in Football, off-season stuff.

RETURNING STARTERS: P Bryan Anger, K Giorgio Tavecchio, KR Keenan Allen

WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR: Coleman Edmond

POSSIBLE SURPRISE: Kaelin Clay

THE BREAKDOWN: Spring practice is a time for competition, but it remains to be seen how competitive it will be at kicker. Jeff Tedford has made it clear that he believes in Tavecchio as his No. 1 kicker, but the senior-to-be has been inconsistent on field goals and hasn’t proven he can consistently produce in the cluth. He did substantially improve his kickoffs last season, something that pleased Tedford.

But Tavecchio could use some competition on field goals, and the Bears still have two other kickers this spring. Vince D’Amato shared time with Tavecchio two years ago but took a back seat last season. Sophomore Jed Barnett also is on the roster.

These are the guys that Tavecchio competed against last season, and he won the No. 1 job through his performance in practice. It will be incumbent on the other two kickers to elevate their play in practice to have a chance to dethrone Tavecchio.

Anger is back at punter. Enough said.

One player that will be hard to replace is Jeremy Ross at punt returner. Ross emerged as one of the Pac-10′s top return men last season and did a good job helping the Bears with field position. Allen could be a candidate to take over those duties, especially if somebody else emerges as the kick returner. Edmond got some reps returning kicks near the end of last season. Clay could have the perfect job description as a returner. He has top-level speed, and although he’s expected to be in the rotation at wide receiver, he doesn’t figure to get a heavy workload of snaps because of the presence of Allen and Marvin Jones as starters. That could make it easier for Clay to take on return duties.

The spring also will be a chance for special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk to start figuring out how to improve his coverage teams, which actually got worse than they were the year before in Pete Alamar’s final season. Whether it be schemes or personnel, Genyk can use the next month to see what works and what doesn’t.

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  • c98

    What is a cluth?

  • Calduke

    Cluth is clutch with a ‘c’ missing.

  • Calduke

    Jo, thanks for the reports and looking forward to more.

    How about assigning a grade A-F to the various team elements you reported. The grades would be ‘relative’ to the PAC-12 competition. Your grades would undoubtedly generate some criticism, but, would give some more ‘perceptions’ to discuss.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Thisiscal

    I don’t think Keenan should be returning kicks. He’s too valuable to our offense. From what I’ve heard of Kaelin Clay, he’s got huge potential and Tedford says he’s the fastest guy on the team. This could be a great opportunity for him to get some playing time and show what he can do. Hopefully, it would be reminiscent of Jahvid returning kicks during his freshman year.

  • Bears

    Special teams have to be good for an unproven Cal team to surprise.
    This unit has to finally step up!

  • http://bearterritory steve geremia

    PK gets a F.I do not care about practice,we have failed on game day.The old kicker should be disqualified unless everybody else in injured.He personally lost 2 games.

  • rollonubears

    I worry about Allen returning kicks, too, but if he does it well enough, we don’t need as much offense. Kick returns are one of the most exciting parts of the game. I think it’s worth the gamble. He could get crushed just as easily going up for bad pass.