Aug. 12, 2011
The fifth day of the 2011 Cal football training camp featured the first practice when the Golden Bears sported full pads and really got to knock each other around. As junior Matt Summers-Gavin put it, Cal finally got to play real football on Wednesday afternoon.
"It felt great," Summers-Gavin said. "We've been going hard every day, but when you get out there in the full pads, that is real football. It was exciting and great to be out here. We're going at it 100 percent, working real hard trying to get better every day."
Summers-Gavin and the rest of the veteran offensive linemen like seniors Mitchell Schwartz and Justin Cheadle have a familiar face shouting instructions to them in the o-line section of Witter Rugby Field during practice. They have been reunited this season with the offensive line assistant coach who initially brought them into the program - Jim Michalczik, who begins his eighth season overall and second stint with the Bears in 2011.
Michalczik returns to Cal after spending the previous two seasons with the Oakland Raiders. Despite missing a couple of years in their careers, Michalczik is happy to see the progress that has occurred with the linemen that he ushered into the program.
"Three years later, a guy has matured and the focus is there," Michalczik said. "That's the great thing about college football. You meet these guys when they're 18-years-old and still a little wet behind the ears, and then it's fun to see them grow."
Summers-Gavin and all the older linemen were nothing short of ecstatic to find out the coach who helped recruit them was coming back to Berkeley.
"I remember when I came back [in the winter] and he was in our o-line room and I was like, 'What are you doing here?'" Summers-Gavin said in jest. "I was very excited that he was the person coming in. He left and then we had coach Steve Marshall, who was another coach that I really liked, but going to another new coach would have been another transition. Coming back to coach Michalczik, I was very happy that happened."
Michalczik was also glad to see his crew get out there and finally get to hit people, although he expected his o-line to be a little overly anxious.
"There was little bit of anxiety," Michalczik said. "Sometimes you get a little too wound up. We don't have the confidence yet to come out and say, 'ok let's do this.' I see the results but then you have to cut it loose and have some confidence to let them play. You have to keep working at it."
Michalczik has been very impressed with the progress of his crew even before fall camp began. From spring camp workouts to fall camp, he said the linemen have been working hard every day. He has a good core of guys with a lot of experience under their belts, as well. In fact, five members of the group have combined to make 85 collegiate starts - Schwartz, Cheadle, Summers-Gavin, Brian Schwenke and Dominic Galas.
Schwartz enters the 2011 campaign as the leader of the pack and with the preseason recognition, having been named a 2011 third-team preseason All-American according to GoDaddy.com and a national honors candidate who was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection as a junior a year ago. Also a member of this year's Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award watch lists, he has started all 38 games possible over the last three seasons.
Cheadle is no stranger to awards himself. Last year, he garnered second-team midseason All-Pac-10 honors. He has started 22 games over the last three seasons and is raising the bar for his personal expectations for himself this year.
"I want to be the best offensive lineman I can be," Cheadle said. "I want to emerge as an offensive line leader and make sure I'm taking the senior leadership role to help us get the right mind set on what we're about to embark on this season."
Besides the solid crop of returners, there are some other talented offensive linemen ready to make a big splash on the line. Alejandro Crosthwaite, Tyler Rigsbee and Bill Tyndall all have a strong chance of seeing some quality playing time.
"We have some guys who have a real good chance at becoming leaders," Michalczik said. "We just want to see them step up. As they start having more and more success, I think they're going to take that leadership role."
The Cal football team is currently in the midst of training camp to prepare for the 2011 season. Single-game tickets for the season-opening TicketCity Battle by the Bay at San Francisco's Candlestick Park against Fresno State on Saturday, Sept. 3 are on sale now. The neutral-site season opener for both teams is not part of the Bears' season-ticket package.
Tickets are also on sale for Cal's five home games this season at San Francisco's AT&T Park. Cal will host Pac-12 opponents USC (Thu., Oct. 13), Utah (Sat., Oct. 22), Washington State (Sat., Oct. 5) and Oregon State (Sat., Oct. 12) at the venue after playing Presbyterian in its home opener on Saturday, Sept. 17. Tickets can be purchased online for at CalBears.com or by calling the Cal Athletic Ticket Office at (800) GO BEARS.
After playing the last 88 seasons and every home game at Memorial Stadium since the facility opened for the 1923 Big Game, Cal will host its home games outside of Berkeley for the first time in 2011 while Memorial Stadium undergoes an extensive renovation and retrofit. For updates on the progress of the renovation and retrofit of Memorial Stadium as well as the Memorial Stadium webcam, visit stadium.berkeley.edu.
2011 CAL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Day, Date - Opponent (Time, TV)
^Sat., Sept. 3 - Fresno State (4 p.m. PT, CSN California)
Sat., Sept. 10 - at Colorado (1:30 p.m. MT/12:30 p.m. PT)
Sat., Sept. 17 - Presbyterian (TBA)
*Sat., Sept. 24 - at Washington (TBA)
*Thu., Oct. 6 - at Oregon (6 p.m. PT, ESPN)
*#Thu., Oct. 13 - USC (6 p.m. PT, ESPN)
*Sat., Oct. 22 - Utah (TBA)
*Sat., Oct. 29 - at UCLA (TBA)
*Sat., Nov. 5 - Washington State (TBA)
*Sat., Nov. 12 - Oregon State (TBA)
*Sat., Nov. 19 - at Stanford (TBA)
*Fri., Nov. 25 - at Arizona State (8:15 p.m. MT/7:15 p.m. PT, ESPN)
!Fri., Dec. 2 - Pac-12 Championship Game (TBA, FSN)
Home Games in Bold at AT&T Park, San Francisco, Calif.; ^TicketCity Battle by the Bay at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Calif.; *Pac-12 Game; !Pac-12 Championship Game at Home Site of Regular-Season Champion; #Homecoming