April 8, 1998
BERKELEY, Calif.--El Nino hasn't dampened Cal's spring football drills as head coach Tom Holmoe and his team enter the midpoint of week two of the April practice sessions.
Despite occasional rain and relatively chilly conditions in Memorial Stadium thus far, Holmoe indicates that he is pleased with the progress shown during the first five practices.
"We're on target," he said. "We've had good, solid practices. It appears we're much more in sync than a year ago, particularly on defense. The only area where we're treading into some new territory is on the offensive line where we've revamped the blocking schemes under Monte Clark." The Bears have relied more on bulky offensive linemen who engage defenders and stay with them during the course of a running play in the past. This year, Clark has instilled a more aggressive style based on quickness off the ball and attacking the defensive player in order to create running lanes. The Cal players have seemed to enjoy this new style of play and appear to be making excellent progress.
Holmoe singled out seveal players who have looked good during the first week and a half of drills, most notably senior wide receiver Dameane Douglas. "Dameane very well might be the best player on this football team," said Holmoe. "He's been very, very impressive. I can hardly describe how fun it is to watch him on the field. He's just such a competitor." However, the other receiver spot remains a question mark as nobody has risen to take control of the battle for starting duties and that may open the door for the immediate impact of one of Cal's incoming group of freshman wide receivers who arrive in time for the August camp in Turlock. Defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich said he was pleased with his group's performance thus far during the spring. "We're coming along, but there still are some spots that have not been solved to date," he said. The coaching staff is extremely pleased with the showing of junior linebackers Matt Beck and Sekou Sanyika, but hasn't yet decided on which player will be added to the starting line-up at the other linebacker spot. Transfer Jason Smith from Vanderbilt has been the biggest development during the spring at that position, but he doesn't become eligible until the 1999 season according to NCAA transfer rules. Setencich also indicates that the safety spot opposite Marquis Smith remains open for competition. Newcomer Damian Marzett has showed good signs, but Setencich believes he'll be much more of a factor after a year learning the system and could possibly be a candidate for redshirt status. The Cal defensive coordinator singled out Cal's defensive line for it's impressive showing thus far. He said that junior Jeremiah Parker has stood out thus far,but that the entire group -- particularly Andre Carter, John McLaughlin, Jacob Waasdorp and Jerry Deloach -- should comprise one of the top lines in the Pac-10 this season.
Cal will practice again on Friday, before taking the Easter weekend off and resuming practice on Monday.
CAL NOTES: Matt Beck will likely sit out the rest of any contact drills as a precaution so not to harm the shoulder that caused him problems last season. He could play if needed, but the coaches don't want to take any chances...With only Justin Vedder and Sam Clemons out for spring drills at quarterback, they're getting plenty of repetitions and have performed admirably thus far. Clemons has the type of arm strength only a Brett Favre or a John Elway can display and seems to have made tremendous strides with his accuracy...The tight end position is an area where Cal has tremendous depth as starter Brian Surgener has looked good, but is being pushed by Corey Smith and A.J. Kunkle for starting duties...The coaches love the performance of Mike Freeman at fullback and Joshua White will need to performa at a high level to keep his starting position.