Aug. 24, 2011
Having multiple different types of playing surfaces on the schedule in 2011, from natural grass to field turf to even a dirt baseball infield, Cal football is lucky to have a couple of veteran kickers returning to take on the challenge in 2011.
Second-year special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk is pleased with the fine tuning his kickers have accomplished during fall training camp. Standing atop the depth charts a pair of seniors in punter Bryan Anger and placekicker Giorgio Tavecchio. In addition, junior longsnapper Matt Rios is back to work with the two kickers for a third straight season and senior quarterback Brock Mansion returns as the placeholder for Tavecchio.
While adjustments may have to be made due to the different playing surfaces, the personnel has not changed at all for the Cal kicking game.
Anger enters the 2011 campaign as one of the most decorated Golden Bears on the roster. For the past three seasons, the native of Camarillo, Calif., has made Cal fans "ooh and ah" at his deep punts that often have opposing returners back peddling quickly. Anger, who was named a third-team preseason All-American by Phil Steele, an honorable mention selection of GoDaddy.com and one of the five players named to the preseason watch list for the prestigious Ray Guy Award, is not letting the preseason hype get to him.
"As a freshman, I did really well," Anger said. "After that season, I let stuff get to me. I finally realized that stuff means nothing. It's all about the now. So I just have to perform now and stuff will happen after."
Genyk has nothing but the utmost confidence in Anger, and does not worry about the pressure riding on his right foot.
"He's a very well balanced young man," Genyk said. "He realizes that he's competing with the top flight punters in the country, and his goal is to continue to really give as much back to our team with great focus and energy. He's a very good athlete. We're really having Bryan focus on improving his hang time, and I think he's working hard in that regard. We ask him to do a lot back there because he's so athletic and he's got a great arm, so we'd really like to incorporate his athleticism into our punt game. "
Behind Anger's skill and Genyk's coaching in his first year, Cal improved 11 spots to No. 19 nationally in net punting (38.51 avg.) last year, while Anger was second in the Pac-10 and sixth nationally with a 45.6 yard punting average that broke a 23-year-old single-season school record. Anger has blasted four punts for over 50of the 12 punts of 70 or more yards by a Cal punter yards in his career, including his personal best of 76 yards in the 2008 Big Game against Stanford that ranks fourth all-time at Cal.
With all of that recent success, Anger did not change much during training camp in 2011. He is more concerned with just working on some fine tuning.
"I'm just trying to extend on what I've already done," Anger said. "I want to keep everything the same, just peak at the right moment. I want to peak right before the season starts, right after camp."
On the flip side, Tavecchio has a whole new challenge to overcome in his final collegiate season. Cal is playing its home games at AT&T Park in 2011, so Tavecchio must learn to kick field goals off of the infield dirt.
For a veteran like Tavecchio, who blasted a career-high 53-yard field goal in the 2010 season finale against Washington, nothing changes with the style and technique of a kick no matter what kind of surface it may be.
"I approach every kick the same way," Tavecchio said. "I'm going to try to keep that same mentality, whether it's on turf, grass, carpet or the nice, beautiful San Francisco (AT&T Park) grass. Obviously, there is a bit of a difference, mostly with the plant foot, but we're dealing with that. We're going to get it squared away and take care of our business, which is what the team needs to do to be successful."
As Genyk puts it, at this point in the career of most collegiate kickers, they have their style down so much that the surface does not matter that much. What does matter to Genyk is for Tavecchio to be able to trust his techniques and styles when it comes time to kick a crucial field goal at a pivotal point of a game.
"Giorgio had an exceptional spring practice, and then into the summer," Genyk said. "As far as camp is concerned, he's been very consistent. We've put him under pressure, and so far, over 25 kicks and he's split the uprights on every one. His kickoffs have been very good. So I think he's going to pick up where he left off last year with the Washington game, but more importantly, we want him to handle the pressure-packed moments better."
Tavecchio enters the 2011 season with some preseason accolades of his own. He is a candidate for the Campbell Trophy often referred to as the "Academic Heisman" and the Burlsworth Trophy, given annually to the nation's most outstanding player who began his collegiate career as a walk-on.
When asked about his final collegiate fall camp, Tavecchio smile and was quick to respond, "Enjoy it."
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., Nov. 5) and Oregon State (Sat., Nov. 12) at the venue after playing Presbyterian in its home opener on Sat., Sept. 17. Cal football tickets can be purchased online 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