The big moment has arrived for the Cal football team.
At 9 a.m. Thursday, the Golden Bears will walk onto the field at renovated Memorial Stadium for their first practice on their home turf in 21 months.
“I’m very anxious to get in there,” said coach Jeff Tedford, whose team played at AT&T Park in San Francisco last season while the stadium underwent a $321 million facelift and seismic retrofit.
For some players, such as sophomore Brennan Scarlett, the experience will be a first.
“I’ve never personally stepped on the field. This is my first time,” said Scarlett, who is close to winning a starting job at outside linebacker. “We’ll definitely be juiced. Now we’ve got our own field again.”
Junior quarterback Allan Bridgford has been around long enough to have played and practiced at Memorial Stadium. It just feels like forever.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the field, so it feels like I haven’t even been there, either, even though I have been,” Bridgford said. “I haven’t really peeked in there because I want the first time to be like a lot of adrenaline going through my veins.”
The Bears will do a helmets-only morning workout in the facility, with an emphasis on simply getting a feel for the turf and its footing.
Because the north tunnel still has not been re-paved, the Bears cannot get a lot of their equipment, including blocking sleds, into the stadium until Aug. 24. At that point, the team will begin practicing there full-time.
Cal opens its season Sept. 1 at Memorial Stadium against Nevada.