Aug. 17, 2008
Berkeley - The California football team displayed high energy once again with a spirited single practice on Sunday evening in Memorial Stadium, with continued emphasis on 11-on-11 sessions, goal line situations and other drill specific techniques.
One group that was particularly fired up in Sunday's practice was the defensive line. Led by the vocal leadership of senior Rulon Davis, the d-line swarmed to the ball and the quarterback on several different occasions. Sophomore Cameron Jordan, along with Davis and Tyson Alualu all made disruptive plays in the first 11-on-11 session. Davis also forced Kevin Riley to throw the ball away in another 11-on-11 situation with his outside pressure. One of the new additions to the defensive line is Kevin Bemoll - a converted offensive lineman - who made his first big play of camp when he batted a pass in the air which was promptly intercepted by freshman Mychal Kendricks.
Under the direction of defensive backs coach Al Simmons, the Cal secondary has also been progressing nicely during fall camp. Sophomore Darian Hagan showed quick hands in a few of the drills today, including a pass break up in the end zone in Bears' red zone drill. Hard hitting senior safety Bernard Hicks managed to slap the ball away in mid air on an intended pass for a receiver as well in the 11-on-11s.
The offense remained crisp in its drills as well, as new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti continues to groom the rookies and veterans with understanding and executing the playbook. Both signal callers - Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley - had productive shifts, as Longshore found an out-stretched Will Ta'ufo'ou who shielded the defender to make the diving grab at the goal line in the red zone drill. Riley was efficient as well in the first 11-on-11, connecting on three straight passes, including two in a row to Nyan Boateng.
Towards the end of practice, the Bears worked on - and what has become a team favorite - situational drills near the goal line. Both Longshore and Riley delivered as Longshore found LaReylle Cunningham and Sean Young for touchdowns, while Riley hooked up with Boateng and Anthony Miller for scores.
"It was some good situational competition;" said head coach Jeff Tedford. "They always get jacked up for that. [In the goal-line situations], the quarterbacks threw some nice balls, down there tight, in tight quarters, the last play of the game, they threw some strikes down there to score."
Cal's running back corps of Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen, Covaughn DeBoskie and Langston Jackson, also got a healthy dose of running plays in another 11-on-11 session. Tedford was also asked about Jahvid Best's role this season in the post-practice media session.
"We're going to try and get the ball in Jahvid's hands 25 times a game," said Tedford. "I feel very good about the other guys [at tailback], but Jahvid has multiple uses as far as punt returns and kickoff returns. Those other guys will spell him at running back; he's not going to take the whole game there."
To help create holes for the backs to run through, the Cal offensive line has been solidifying various protection schemes and assignments under the direction of assistant offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Jim Michalczik. After practice, Tedford singled out back-up center Chris Guarnero, who entered camp as the backup center, but has been seeing time with the first string at guard.
"I'm glad you asked about him because he's been doing a phenomenal job. He can play guard which he's been doing now, but he can play center as well. Since he's been competing at guard, he's take a major step forward. If we had to play tomorrow, he'd be starting at guard for us. He's always had a great attitude and worked hard."
Cal returns to the field tomorrow for a double session, before a closed practice session on Tuesday.