The California football team went back to work on Saturday morning with high energy in Memorial Stadium in the first of two practices, with continued emphasis on 11-on-11 drills, goal line situations and red zone work in full pads. The Bears then practiced in shells later in the evening, focusing on special teams assignments and more 11-on-11 situations.
In an extended first session of 11-on-11 drills, there were plenty of offensive highlights of note, including a solid effort by the trio of running backs -- Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen and Covaughn DeBoskie. Early in the drill, Best took a handoff, followed his lead blockers and found a huge gap to run through, before darting his way down the sidelines for a sizeable gain. Vereen continued to display his versatile cutback abilities, as he juked two defenders, and reversed his field for a five yard pick up. DeBoskie was also turning some heads on a pair of occasions when he caught a pass over the middle and turned up field for a big chunk of yardage. Later in the second 11-on-11 drills, DeBoskie refused to go down after being hit by two defenders, and used his arm as leverage to gain an additional five yards. DeBoskie showed persistence again in a goal line situation when he kept churning his legs after being hit in the backfield, and plunged into the end zone for a score.
The defense also had its moments in the 11-on-11s as well. Darian Hagan jumped a passing route and intercepted the ball, while Charles Johnson shed a tackler to chase down Kevin Riley from behind for a tackle. Senior Anthony Felder made his presence felt in the goal line drill when he forced his way into the backfield to disrupt a running play up the middle for a loss. Fellow senior Bernard Hicks used veteran awareness not to be fooled by a quarterback run at the goal line for a stop.
"Tyson Alualu is a guy who is solid every single day," said head coach Jeff Tedford about the play of his defensive line. "Cameron Jordan has shown flashes. Both those guys are doing a good job. Rulon Davis has also been showing flashes. Some of the younger guys, Aaron Tipoti, Trevor Guyton and Kendrick Payne are all true freshmen that have done a real nice job and may end of contributing this year."
Early in the practice the wide receivers continued to work on polishing route running, while also addressing blocking defenders down field. The wide outs also worked one 2-on-2s with the defensive backs in the red zone. Freshman Marvin Jones caught a touchdown in the corner of the end zone from Nate Longshore and Nyan Boateng was on the receiving end of a pass from Riley for a score as well.
"We're working at everyone to see who needs to take some turns at certain things and special teams in case they are on the bus," Tedford said. "One of the things I mentioned yesterday was that having the Washington State game so early, we have to have our 64-man roster done pretty quick."
Both signal callers looked effective in the 11-on-11s as well. Longshore completed three straight passes to Cameron Morrah, Sean Young and Boateng in the second installment of the drill. Riley was also solid with crisp passes to LaReylle Cunningham, Boateng and Jeremy Ross.
In the second practice of the day, Cal emphasized special teams play, especially coverage and blocking schemes on kickoffs.
The Bears also mixed in 11-on-11s again, with an extended session late in the practice. Jones stood out on one play especially when he flew past his defender and hauled in a 60-yard pass from Riley. Jones found himself open again a few plays later as he shed defenders for a sizeable gain.
Longshore was efficient in his series, finding Vereen on two different occasions. On one play in particular, Longshore avoided an attacking Mychal Kendricks, spun around and found Vereen for a good gain.
Defensively, Felder continued to flex his size and strength in the 11-on-11s, as he, along with Devin Bishop, brought the heat to disrupt the quarterback play. Guyton drew an ovation late in practice when he penetrated the backfield to halt DeBoskie's progress.
The Bears return to the field Sunday for a single practice in pads.