Sept. 15, 2000
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A contingent of 65 Cal football players arrived in Champaign, Ill., Friday afternoon to begin final preparations for Saturday's game against No. 19 Illinois.
Included in the group were center Reed Diehl and H-back Marcus Fields, although both have been ruled out of the contest with injuries. Diehl has shown marked improvement in his nerve palsy in his left leg, but the coaches are hoping to get him back for the Fresno State game next week. Nolan Bluntzer will start in his place at center.
Another player making his first collegiate start against the Illini will be H-back Keala Keanaaina. He could also see significant time at tight end, as well. Starting TE Brian Surgener was held out of practice all week with a kidney bruise, but he is expected to play against Illinois.
Upon their arrival in Champaign, the Bears went through a 45-minute workout at Memorial Stadium. There were wind gusts of more than 20 mph during the practice, which could be a factor if they keep up during the game.
Another factor could be the time difference between Berkeley and Champaign, especially with the 11 a.m. CT kickoff (9 a.m. PT) for ESPN. The Bears left Oakland Airport at 7 a.m. Friday and will wake up at 6:30 am. CT (4:30 a.m. PT) Saturday to get ready for the game.
Game Notes ...
Cal will try to stop an Illinois rushing attack that is ranked fourth in the country, averaging 272.0 ypg ... two of Cal's offensive staff members, coordinator Steve Hagen (39) and running back coach Ron Gould (35), celebrated birthdays on Friday, Sept. 15 ... Cal offensive guard Scott Tercero, a third team Freshman All-America last season, had an excellent week of practice as he continued to rehabilitate from summer knee arthroscopic surgery, and the coaches are hoping to use him for 15-20 plays against Illinois ... on some plays Saturday, Cal's strategy calls for tailbacks Joe Igber and Joseph Echema to be in the backfield at the same time.