Aug. 23, 1997
Tarik Smith Sparkles in 75-Play Scrimmage as Cal Breaks Camp
LOS ANGELES - Senior tailback Tarik Smith proved that he is all the way back from last year's knee injury as he popped a pair of big plays during Cal's final summer camp scrimmage in Turlock Saturday morning.
The Cal offense proved to be explosive during a 75-play scrimmage as the Bears broke four different plays of 40 yards or longer. Three Cal tailbacks had big days, led by the All-America candidate Smith.
Smith broke loose on a 70-yard run early in the scrimmage when he turned the corner on a sweep play and sprinted through the Cal defense for the touchdown. A few minutes later, he took a swing pass in the left flat and again broke free to score on a 42-yard reception.
Back-up Deltha O'Neal also looked sharp as he rushed for 97 yards on just 7 carries. He excited the coaches with a 59-yard TD run.
Freshman tailback Marcus Fields also was superb as he showed excellent acceleration while accounting for 65 rushing yards on just 9 carries.
Cal fullback Joshua White also got in the act as he ran over several Cal defenders while catching three swing passes for 31 yards and also blocking effectively.
Quarterback Justin Vedder had a fine outing in directing the Cal offense as he completed 10 of 14 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown without an interception. He opened the scoring during the scrimmage as he took a quarterback draw 40 yards for a touchdown.
The leading receiver on the afternoon was Dameane Douglas, who caught 3 passes for 62 yards, including a 34-yard reception on a pass from Vedder.
Defensively, Cal wasn't as sharp as during the Wednesday scrimmage, but several players looked good. Freshman Andre Carter had the lone sack on the afternoon and also recovered a fumble. Senior linebacker Andre Rhodes led the team with 6 tackles.
"I was really pleased with the way the offense got untracked today," said head coach Tom Holmoe. "We showed some big-play ability and that gives us hope that we'll be an explosive football team.
"It was encouraging to see Tarik Smith run with the football. He's ready to play and that's going to big part of our offense. All of our tailbacks looked like they can contribute in a big way.
"We accomplished a lot during this football camp and we escaped without any major injuries. That's a huge plus."
A number of potential starters sat out the scrimmage, but all are expected back in the near future. Defensive tackle Brandon Whiting figures to return to action by the end of next week and will have a full week of practice before the Houston opener. Tight end Corey Smith hopes to be back in action when the Bears resume practice on Tuesday.
One of the priorities during the camp was to solidify the offensive line. While some uncertainties remain, it is expected that the coaching staff will name its starting group early next week. The anchors of the line will be juniors Jeremy Newberry and John Welbourn. However, as many as seven other players are vying for the other three starting positions. Included in that group are Brian Shields, Kursten Sheridan, Kevin Doherty, Kevin Swillis, Yauger Williams, Drake Parker and John Romero. It's clearly the largest offensive line groups in Cal history as none of the nine players mentioned above weighs less than 295 pounds and seven of the nine are at the 300-pound mark or above.
Cal will host its annual Family Funfest on Sunday beginning at 12 noon on Kleeberger Field, just north of Memorial Stadium. The Cal players will be available to sign autographs and a free lunch will be served to those in attendance.
Cal begins its fall semester on Monday and the team has been given the day off but will resume practice on Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.