Aug. 11, 2008
BERKELEY - The Cal Football team began its second week of preseason camp with a pair of practices on Monday at Memorial Stadium. The morning session was conducted in shells while the afternoon was a full-contact affair for the 10th practice of camp.
When asked about the play of the receivers on Monday, head coach Jeff Tedford addressed their play, but also the condition of the whole team.
"I thought they dropped too many balls today," Tedford said. "We need to focus more, maybe we're wearing down a bit, but we have to push through it. We're through practice 10 now and we've got to get over the hump and take it into our first scrimmage on Thursday."
In the morning session, receiver highlights included senior LaReylle Cunningham corralling a ball in traffic on a pass over the middle from sophomore Kevin Riley and senior Sean Young making a difficult catch on a well-thrown 40-yard bomb from Riley. In the afternoon, the defensive backs had the edge, however.
"The corners made a couple of plays today," Tedford said. "Syd [Thompson], of course, he's pretty solid all the time. I thought the quarterbacks left the ball in the air a little too long and I thought the corners did a nice job of going and getting it. We had some guys open, but we weren't real sharp in the passing game."
In addition to a diving pass break-up in the end zone by Thompson, redshirt freshman Sean Cattouse also had an end zone break-up in red-zone situations. Sophomore Darian Hagan continued his strong camp with a pair of break-ups as well, though one other impressive pass deflection was tipped up by redshirt freshman Michael Calvin, who then secured the ball for a touchdown.
"Hagan's getting there," Tedford said. "I think he understands what it takes and he's understanding the defense and he has more discipline. He's getting there."
In addition to the passing game being a little off the mark, the Bears were playing without multiple running backs who are nursing minor injuries and the coaching staff was shuffling offensive linemen.
"We're trying to give people different opportunities at different positions, as well as resting people that have minor dings [on the line]," Tedford said. "We're trying to get those guys fresh, while getting a true impression of some other guys."
Tedford was also complimentary of redshirt freshman running back Peter Geurts, who has seen an increase in carries, as well as punishing hits with the injuries to other backs.
"Peter Geurts has been a warrior, he's all beat up and he continues to play and he's very solid," Tedford said.
Cal's tight ends continued to be a major part of the offensive playbook as well. Junior Cameron Morrah collected a Longshore pass for a touchdown and also snagged a short delivery from Longshore before lowering his shoulder for the ensuing collision, sending the defender's helmet flying. Junior Tad Smith, who converted from defensive end in the spring, had another big gain over the middle on a Riley offering.
Tedford also commented on a former Golden Bear player, standout quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who made his first professional start Monday evening for the Green Bay Packers against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"We spoke through the summer," Tedford said. "And I had a chance to watch his first few series [in tonight's exhibition] and he was really, really sharp. He showed great command; he threw great balls - two were dropped, one was off the guy's chest and one was dropped on third-and-17. He looked great. I'm really excited for him; I think he's going to have a great year."
Rodgers finished his evening 9-of-15 for 117 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown to James Jones, in his first game action since the much-talked about saga in Green Bay surrounding Brett Favre and his return to the NFL.
"I texted him today telling him how proud I was of the way he's handled the whole situation," Tedford said. "That's not easy to do; everything you do is scrutinized. From what I've seen, he's done a very nice job of keeping his poise and composure and really focusing on the job at hand - being the quarterback of that team."
Cal is back in action on Tuesday with an afternoon practice in full pads.