April 12, 2003
In a spring football scrimmage that featured driving rainstorms and sloppy field conditions, the Golden Bear defense dominated play Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Leading the charge was newly enrolled linebacker Joe Maningo, a JC Gridwire second team All-American from nearby Football College, who stung Cal quarterbacks for five sacks and forced two fumbles during the intrasquad scrimmage. Maningo shredded opponents for 127 tackles (including 33 for losses) and 15 sacks last year at Foothill JC.
"Joe really runs around and creates havoc," said Cal's Jeff Tedford, the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year. "He made a lot of plays today."
Also starring on defense was tackle Tom Sverchek, who bagged two sacks, and linebacker Jaylon DeBruin and cornerback Mike McGrath, both of whom returned fumbles for touchdowns. DeBruin raced 77 yards for his TD, while McCrath's return covered 23 yards to the end zone. Inclement weather hampered the Bears' offense, as the passing game was limited to 124 yards.
Junior Reggie Robertson, who played understudy to All-Pac-10 second team quarterback Kyle Boller last season, completed eight of 15 pass attempts for 68 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Sophomore Richard Schwartz, a 2002 redshirt, connected on two of six attempts for 19 yards, although he was the victim of two dropped passes. Incoming freshman Cary Dove was 0-for-5 with one interception.
"These wet conditions certainly limited us today, but at the same time, it teaches us to be more careful with the football," said Tedford. "We place an emphasis on ball security and this was a good test. We also teach our players to play from snap to whistle, and in these conditions, there were more times for them to capitalize because the ball was on the ground more often."
Senior wide receiver Vincent Strang, a 5-8, 140-pound speedster, joined Maningo as the star of Saturday's scrimmage. He snared two passes for 55 yards and also returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown. Others who caught two passes in the intrasquad were junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur (27 yards) and junior tight end Jordon Hunter (13 yards). Hunter's second catch was a five-yard TD strike from Robertson.
Senior tailback Adimchinobe Echemandu continues his comeback from knee surgery, leading all rushers with 24 yards on nine carries, including the game's longest run from scrimmage of 20 yards. He also hooked up with a 36-yard pass completion to Strang early in the scrimmage.
As was the case during the 2002 season, special teams had its highlights as well. Cornerback James Bethea blocked an extra-point attempt, while placekicker Tyler Fredrickson drilled two 25-yard field goals despite the slippery conditions.
One week of spring practice remains for Tedford's Golden Bears, with the four-week session culminating next Saturday, April 19 when Cal stages its annual Spring Game at Memorial Stadium at noon. Admission is free.