Football: Thursday practice update

As Cal’s players walked off Witter Rugby Field this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of red jerseys. The Bears are very healthy for this time of season, and not counting guys  who have season-ending injuries, should have all hands on deck for Saturday’s game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl.

The Bruins, of course, as they have six players suspended because of last week’s brawl in Arizona. That development should allow walk-on wide receiver Jerry Rice Jr. to make his college debut.

Not that the Bears are making a big deal about it. “Just another guy in a uniform,” coach Jeff Tedford said. When asked if it was accurate to assume he’d be a little worried if it were Jerry Rice Sr. suiting up for UCLA, Tedford said: “Perfect answer.”

Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast had some run-ins with the elder Rice during his extended NFL coaching career. He said he ran into Rice a couple of times when he was the defensive coordinator at Arizona and Rice was playing out the string with the Raiders and Seahawks.

Rice may not have been at his best anymore at that point of his career, but “our guys were still wide-eyed when they saw him take the field, I know that,” Pendergast said.

Pendergast doesn’t know much about Rice Jr., obviously, and that will be the case with much of UCLA’s receiving corps after four wideouts were suspended for the game. It will be a new look for the Bruins, but Pendergast said the team is simply preparing for the Bruins’ schemes, not personnel.

The running game was the strength of UCLA’s offense already, and you’d have to think the focus will be even more on that with the missing weapons in the passing game. The good news for the Bears is they have a pretty strong run defense, allowing 115.57 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-12 and 27th nationally.

The Bruins have a pretty good 1-2 punch at tailback with Johnathan Franklin and bruiser Derrick Coleman, who combine to average 123 yards per game. The Bears held them in check last season, with Franklin getting most of the carries and gaining just 54 yarsd in Cal’s 35-7 win.

“”They are two formidable backs who give you two different styles,” Pendergast said. “They’re kind of thunder and lightning. One can get on the perimeter and the other can take it between the tackles.”



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.

  • Calduke

    Sofele is OK now??

  • Calduke

    Bridgford, Whiteside, McClure and Mustafa Jalil were big time high school names in SoCal. Hope JT can give them some time this saturday.

  • Juancho

    A series a half Calduke. That’s what I’ve been clamoring for with regards to Bridgford at least. Let him learn in real-time. Not mop-up time.

  • Jim

    Bridgford is learning NOTHING in mop-up time … handing off with a minute or two left on the clock … anybody could do that. All he’s doing is getting the ball and not fumbling the handoff. He’s getting less experience than Mansion so if Maynard goes down, Bridgford will be a deer in headlights.

    Can’t believe that Tedford doesn’t understand this because it’s happened before … first when Ayoob totally fell apart, but we luckily had a determined guy who could lead, but not because of playing time.

    If Maynard takes a hit and goes down, gets injured, we’ll have a totally inexperienced, young Bridford and he could get destroyed, being no better than, probably worse than, Mansion last season.

    I feel sorry for these guys. Great potential that is totally undeveloped then getting thrown to the wolves. STUPID.

  • bigdruid

    Jim, I advise you to take a look at the team stats here:


    Specifically, take a look at how many passes backup QBs have thrown at UW, USC, Stanford – the answer? Almost none.

    I mean, I understand that you really hate Tedford and are looking to criticize anything he does, but realistically nobody in college football gives the backup QB significant snaps. Just doesn’t happen except in the case of QB controversy or injury.

  • Ocean Blue

    “The running game was the strength of UCLA’s offense already, and you’d have to think the focus will be even more on that with the missing weapons in the passing game.”

    Look for uclol to go bombs away in the air. Why not? They know they won’t be able to move the ball on the ground unless they have a legitimate passing game, so there’s no reason not to air it out. Plus, the Bears have had some weakness in defending the pass (cough-Colorado-cough). Add to that their giant douche TE, and they’ve got a game plan all ready.

    Whether it works or not is another story, but my Spidey Senses tell me the Neu will go pass-happy right from the start, and use that TE as much as he can. It’s pretty much the only hope for the southern extension branch.

  • Juancho

    Bigdruid – you feel that Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley make for good comparisons to Maynard and Cal ? Urban Meyer made the QB series a half famous. So it has been done.

    By the way kind of a stretch to say Jim hates Tedford and wants to criticize anything.

  • bigdruid

    I’m making the point that Stanford and USC have had a number of big wins/losses where they had ample opportunity to play their backups. And yet they are not. Ditto for UW, and ASU, or anyone else in the PAC-12 that isn’t either dealing with injuries or a QB controversy.

    And yet, the fact that Cal is not playing Bridgford is somehow a sign that Tedford is stupid, etc, despite the fact that *almost nobody* plays their backup QB.

    So, yeah, it’s a stretch to say Jim hates Tedford. But criticizing Tedford for doing something that 99% of other college coaches do is pretty weak, especially with hyperbolic language like “I feel sorry for [the players]”.

  • miked

    @bigdruid, he is not saying that Tedford is stupid, he is saying that the approach is stupid, and I agree. What other teams are doing or not doesn’t matter. We’ve had a rich history of QB’s going down and n00bs being forced to step in. We’ve also had a rich history of a complete lack of QB development so that when the senior leaves the next in line has to be developed on the field during playing time, and the program suffers. This has really been our downfall over the last few years and in my mind one of the big reasons that the program is always in a rebuilding mode. Would we be in a rebuilding mode if we had a Barkley/Foles/Luck behind center with everything else being the same? These backup QB’s are not being developed and *will* flail if Maynard goes down.

    But let’s play the other side of the equation out – if you think that Tedford is approaching this correctly, how do you see any QB than Maynard being able to step in at this point and be effective? You are ok with them stepping into the huddle in any game with a complete lack of game experience and trust that they are going to be able to lead the team as well as a game experienced QB?

  • Caladan

    Ted Miller was right about Cal fans and their 2000 word essays.