Football: Spring practice review — secondary

HELPED HIS CAUSE: Michael Coley. The redshirt freshman has taken advantage of some of the departures Cal had from its secondary since last year. Gone are NFL draft pick Chris Conte, Bryant Nnabufie and Darian Hagan. Josh Hill, a part-time starter last season, missed the spring to focus on academics. Coley was given an opportunity and played well as the nickel back. Coley was a well-regarded recruit coming out of high school in 2010 and could make an impact as the first defensive back off the bench, even when Hill returns in the fall.

WORK TO DO: Adrian Lee. Another redshirt freshman, Lee benefitted from a lot of reps in the spring. He’ll need that experience when fall camp arrives because he’s going to face some stiff competition from newcomers Stefan McClure, Kameron Jackson and Joel Willis to get into the playing rotation. Coach Jeff Tedford has said from the outset the three incoming corners are going to be given every chance to be in the rotation. Lee needs to use his experience to gain an edge.

WHERE WE STAND: While the linebacker corps may be the deepest position on the team, the secondary’s starting unit is at the same level. Cornerback Marc Anthony, following up his first season as a starter, had an excellent spring. He and Steve Williams give the Bears potentially one of the top corner duos in the Pac-12. Sean Cattouse is experienced, talented and a leader, and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has to be comforted by the senior’s presence on the back end. D.J. Campbell, now a fifth-year senior, appears to have locked down the other safety spot after seeing time as a backup last season. With Coley, C.J. Moncrease and Alex Logan, and possibly even freshman Avery Walls, the Bears appear to be in pretty good shape at safety. The only question in the secondary is the depth at corner. Cal can use Hill there, but don’t be surprised if another incoming freshman cracks the two-deep in the fall.

MOVING FORWARD: The Bears could really see some playmaking Cattouse this season. The fifth-year senior has a better grasp of Pendergast’s schemes and is on the radar of NFL scouts. Anthony could emerge as one of the conference’s better corners. He is a pretty good cover man and displayed excellent open-field tackling during the spring. Hill can backup at both safety and corner, so would he be a better candidate to play nickel? His absence this spring certainly gave Coley a boost. The biggest developments this fall will be at backup corner. Out of the three incoming freshman, McClure is considered to be the one with the most potential.


Football: Depth chart

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is the post-spring depth chart.

Some thoughts:

  • The battle for the backup quarterback job could be one of the most competitive in fall camp. Neither Brock Mansion nor Allan Bridgford really separated himself during the spring. Mansion, of course, has a little experience. Bridgford, though, could benefit from getting the reps since he is only going to be a sophomore and the job theoretically could be his someday.
  • You can probably flip-flop Schwartz and Summers-Gavin. As long as left-hander Zach Maynard is the quarterback, Schwartz likely will play right tackle to protect his blind side.
  • Bill Tyndall really made some headway this spring. Interesting he gets the nod over Sam DeMartinis as one of the backup offensive tackles.
  • Will Kapp’s injuries appear to be catching up to him. He’s no longer on the two-deep at fullback.
  • With his experience and successful spring, Michael Calvin is solidly the No. 3 receiver. Coleman Edmond may be getting the nod as the other backup because he’s a senior — it’s hard to imagine him getting reps over Kaelin Clay at this point.
  • You have to wonder if Chris McCain would be on the two-deep at outside linebacker had he not suffered a concussion this spring. He had stood out until he was injured.

Basketball: Another departure from Pac-10 — Point guard MoMo Jones leaving Arizona

In the wake of Pac-10 Player of the Year leaving Arizona to enter the NBA draft — where he likely will be no worse than the second player chosen — Wildcats sophomore point guard MoMo Jones has announced he is transferring.

He hasn’t said where, merely that he wants to be closer to his home in New York City.  The rumormill is fast and furious with St. John’s as his destination.

Here’s the latest from the Arizona Daily Star.


Football: Spring practice review — linebackers

HELPED HIS CAUSE: Cecil Whiteside. The freshman from Newport Beach was supposed to be making this kind of impact last fall, but he didn’t become academically qualified in time to enroll for the fall semester and ended up gray-shirting. Whiteside is now in the fold and it didn’t take long for him to make an impression. Simply put, Whiteside was one of the most impressive Cal players this spring. He’s already listed on the two-deep behind Ryan Davis at outside linebacker and it wouldn’t be surprising if he is starting at some point in 2011. It’s easy to see why Whiteside was considered one of the top outside linebacker recruits in the nation in 2010.

WORK TO DO: Robert Mullins. Mullins was a fixture on the two-deep last year, mostly as Mike Mohamed’s backup inside. Mullins started the Nevada game when Mohamed was injured. But with some of Cal’s younger linebackers emerging, Mullins is going to have to work hard to stay in the rotation. In the post-spring depth chart released today, Nick Forbes and Steven Fanua are listed as the backup inside linebackers. And with the starting combination of Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt, snaps could be hard to find inside anyway.

WHERE WE STAND: You can easily make the argument that this is the most talented and deep position on the team. Kendricks and Holt should form one of the top inside linebacker tandems in the Pac-12 this season. Dave Wilkerson, meanwhile, has tremendous potential as a rush linebacker and it was on display early in the spring before a groin injury set him back. There are still high hopes for outside linebacker Ryan Davis, who is a senior now and finally looks like will get a chance  to produce. With Whiteside, Forbes and Chris McCain looking at backup roles, this is a potentially explosive, playmaking, deep unit.

MOVING FORWARD: It will not be easy to replace Mohamed, who not only was good enough to be a sixth-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos but was arguably the smartest player on the defense and was the glue of the unit. Holt, who played alongside Mohamed  last season, should become that guy. Kendricks is one of the most athletic linebackers in the conference and could be ready to earn some postseason honors. The Bears see a lot of Zack Follett in Wilkerson. Davis should be pushed by Whiteside in fall camp.


Football: Overheard at Candelstick

Here’s a sampling of what was said today at the press conference  at Candlestick Park to promote the 2011 season-opener between Cal and Fresno State:


On needing to see Zach Maynard’s skill set in person rather than on tape:

“You could see certain things on tape but you really need to see it for yourself. I was very impressed with his ability to throw all the balls on the field. He can throw it deep. He has great touch underneath. He has enough zip to throw the deep, intermediate passes. And he has an escape dimension. I felt like through spring he just continued to improve and I think he’s just going to continue to improve with his knowledge of the offense.”

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Football: Press conference quick update

Cal and Fresno State held a joint press conference today to promote their season-opener on Sept. 3 at Candlestick Park. Yes, the game is still 3 1/2 months away, but the event was put on by Washington Football, Inc., the independent promoter putting on the neutral site game.

The press conference was attended by Cal coach Jeff Tedford, athletic director Sandy Barbour and safety Sean Cattouse. On the Fresno State side, there was coach Pat Hill, athletic director Thomas Boeh, quarterback Derek Carr and linebacker Travis Brown. Carr is the younger brother of David Carr.

A couple of quick notes before more thorough coverage later:

  • Tedford said while exact playcalling duties haven’t been finalized, he said he will be handling the majority of the playcalling this season. It’s something he has hinted at since the end of last year but appears to becoming more definitive now that spring practice is over. This is significant for a lot of reasons, one being that Tedford gave up playcalling duties a few years ago to concentrate on overseeing the entire program. He now feels, through his experience as a head coach, that he can balance  both. More on that later.
  • Cal released a post-spring depth chart as part of the notes package it distributed at the press conference. No real surprises, except that Aaron Tipoti is listed as the starting nose tackle over Kendrick Payne. But I would assume that position is still a toss-up. Tedford, quite frankly, isn’t a big fan of putting out depth charts in the spring. He does  it to appeal to the masses (and sports information director Kyle McRae), but it means at some positions players are listed in a certain order simply because they had to be.  I’ll have a more thorough look at the two-deep later.
  • Tedford talked at length about his decision to name Zach Maynard the starting quarterback, especially the timing. I’ll have complete transcriptions later, but essentially he said he wanted Maynard to be  able to spend the summer developing leadership, especially because he is so new to the program.

Football: Maynard talks about starting role

Cal held a conference  call this afternoon with new starting quarterback Zach Maynard. Here is some of what he had to say:

On how long it took him to get comfortable this spring:

“It took me a little while. It took me some time to really get into the playbook and meet with Coach Tedford more and the coaches that are here. It was kind of rough at first. My timing was off. My mechanics were a little too quick for the guys. Over time, it got better. I just had to get my feet wet first and get a feel for it first. I feel good now. Everything is clicking.”

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