Sept. 4, 2000
Berkeley, CA - California head coach Tom Holmoe announced today his team's starting line-up for the season-opener scheduled this Saturday vs. the University of Utah in Memorial Stadium at 3:15 p.m.
While many positions were pretty much set before Cal's pre-season camp even began, others were heavily contested and the final list includes a few surprises.
One of the most intriguing positions is at wide receiver, where Cal returned only two lettermen (Phillip Pipersburg and Sean Currin), who combined for a scant 16 catches last season. An influx of new talent have made things interesting for the coaching staff with three junior college transfers and a pair of high school grads all bidding for playing time.
Holmoe indicated his veterans, Currin and Pippersburg, had drawn starting assignments on Saturaday. Currin has enjoyed an excellent pre-season displaying sure hands and steady play. The former walk-on was awarded a scholarship this past off-season and appears ready for a breakthrough season. Pippersburg has been inconsistent in his pass catching thus far, but has elevated his game in the last week to earn the starting role in a close battle over Chase Lyman.
Lyman gives the passing game an important element of size as he checks in at 6-3 and 190 pounds. More importantly, he has shown an ability to catch everything thrown in his direction during practice sessions and has good speed as well.
There are several other players who figure to get a good amount of playing time and could push for starting duties in the early season. Included in this group is junior Chad Heydorff, who is expected to begin practicing again this week after suffering a hamstring pull two weeks ago in Turlock. Heydorff had an inside track for starting status before the injury. How quickly he regains full health will determine whether he becomes a serious candidate for the starting line-up.
Others who will be seen this week in the playing rotation are true-freshman Geoff McArthur, redshirt-freshman James Smith, JC transfer Charon Arnold and senior deep threat Phillip Pipersburg. Derek Swafford, a JC transfer from Ventura CC, has a sore back and he is unlikely to play in the opener this week.
Another position which has attracted immense scrutiny during the pre-season is at placekicker, where three players waged very strong competition for the starting call. In the end, Holmoe decided to go with sophomore Mark-Christian Jensen, who started most of last season for the Golden Bears. After hitting 4-of-8 field goals last year, including a long of 37 yards, Jensen has appeared much more consistent during practice sessions thus far.
However, he barely edged out redshirt-freshman Tyler Fredrickson and sophomore Jeremy Hershey. Both Fredrickson and Hershey hit over 80 percent of their attempts during practices and scrimmages and either could be called upon if Jensen falters in his starting role.
Another player who is expected to return to practice this week is sophomore offensive guard Scott Tercero, who has been rehabilitating from arthoscopic knee surgery this summer. However, the coaches are unlikely to play him this Saturday, instead letting him gradually return to playing shape over the next few weeks. In his absence, senior Robert Truhitte will get the call at right guard alongside redshirt-freshman Mark Wilson. The other side of the line is set with Reed Diehl, Brandon Ludwig and Langston Walker.
Defensively, Cal has stalwarts Andre Carter and Jacob Waasdorp to build around. However, there will be several players in the starting line-up for the first time in their college careers. Among those are defensive end Tully Banta-Cain, inside linebacker John Klotsche, safety Nnamdi Asomugha and cornerback LaShaun Ward.
In a position change, J.P. Segura will move to the outside linebacker position to back-up Scott Fujita as sophomore Calvin Hosey is still suffering from a sprained foot and is unlikely to play on Saturday.
Below is Cal's starting line-up for the season-opener...
QB Kyle Boller
TB Joe Igber
WR Philip Pippersburg
WR Sean Currin
OT Mark Wilson
DE Andre Carter
OLB Scott Fujita
ILB John Klotsche
ILB Chris Ball
CB Chidi Iwuoma
SS Dewey Hale
PK Mark Jensen