Here’s my story on one-time Arizona State recruit Angelo Richardson, an Oakland native who is back in Tempe taking classes and part of the football team six years after being paralyzed from the waist down in a random shooting incident.
From Thursday’s regular post-practice media sessions with coach Jeff Tedford and coordinators Jim Michalczik and Clancy Pendergast:
— There is nothing definitive (still) on the status of OT Matt Summers-Gavin (knee) or TE Richard Rodgers (foot). Both practiced Thursday and are day-to-day. Will they play Saturday against the Sun Devils? Your guess is as good as mine. I wouldn’t bet on it. (In fact, Tedford said Jacob Wark, who sprained his ankle at USC, will start at TE).
— Tedford said senior OG Dominic Galas will begin contact practice next week for the first time since tearing a pectoral muscle just before the start of fall camp. He’s not likely to play in a game until at least Oct. 13 at Washington State, but if all goes well the Bears could get more than half a senior from him.
“He’s doing more and more each day,” Tedford said. “Next week he’ll start to have a little bit of contact. He hasn’t had any contact yet. We’ll have to see how he will respond to contact. He’s been working really hard. We’ve got to make sure he’s got good enough strength in that arm.”
— Tedford isn’t reading anything into Cal’s current four-game win streak against ASU or its unbeaten home record vs. the Sun Devils since 1997. “I couldn’t even tell you the record,” he said. “I know we beat ’em last year, but that doesn’t even matter. It’s all about this year. They have new leadership there. I do know this: They always have very good athletes there.”
— The Bears have converted 73.3 percent (11 for 15) in the red zone, but that’s a bit misleading. They have scored just six touchdowns in those opportunities, settling for five field goals. Compare that to Oregon, which has entered its opponent’s 20-yard line 25 times and come away with 22 scores — 20 of them TDs.
“We just have to execute. When our receivers are open, we have to hit them. We have to be able to run the ball, knock people off the ball,” Tedford said. “It’s still football. Sure it gets a little bit tougher when you get in the red zone because the field is shorter . . . we’ve had the opportunity to have successful plays, we just haven’t executed that well.”
— Tedford on how to deal with ASU’s 39 tackles for loss — tied for most in the nation: “Block ’em. Block ’em and get rid of the football when you need to get rid of the football. That’s how you manage it. You change up protections and try to keep them off balance.”
— Offensive coordinator Michalczik on the Bears surrendering 13 sacks the past two weeks: “Sucks.” Pretty much says it all.
“It always is everybody, but we’ve got to do much better up front on the offensive line,” he said. “When the pressure starts happening, you can’t panic and we have too many guys panicking instead of trusting their technique. We’re really working to get our brains back to fundamentals.”
— Michalczik echoed Tedford’s comments on the ongoing education of sophomore tailback Brendan Bigelow, who has carried just four times each of the past two games, but totaled 191 yards. “We’re always looking at ways to get him the ball — he’s such a talent.,” Michalczik said. “He’s still young, still growing, still learning.”
— Defensive coordinator Pendergast, who came to Cal after coaching 15 years for five different NFL teams, acknowledged he didn’t have to prepare for spread-style offenses in the pros. This season, he said, probably half of the teams Cal faces will employ some sort of spread offense.
“In the NFL, we only had one check and that was it, whether you had any form of wildcat,” he said. “Now we have two defensive packages that have evolved that can handle the spread-style attack. Over the last two-plus years we’ve been able to build on that and I think the players have a good feel for it.”
“It’s been a learning curve for Clancy,” Tedford said. “On Sundays it all looks the same. Every week is different in college football. At this point I know he has packages for every style of offense we play.”