August 7, 2012
BERKELEY - Head coach Jeff Tedford talked about his team's strength at tailback Tuesday following the Golden Bears' workout at Witter Rugby Field, which was the team's final practice before putting on full pads for the first time in training camp Wednesday.
Tedford had plenty of praise for his top tailbacks.
"Those top four backs right now are pretty special guys," Tedford said. "The first four are really quality tailbacks."
Sofele and Anderson combined for 1,667 rushing yards last season to extend Cal's string of having its top two running backs combine for 1,500 or more rushing yards to nine consecutive seasons. Their combined total represents the most rushing yards the Bears have had returning by their top two running backs since Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen returned 2,295 yards in 2009 and the third-most during the nine-year streak, with the combination of Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett's 2,245 rushing yards returning in 2006 the only other one higher.
Sofele is on the watch list for the 2012 Maxwell Award given annually to the top college football player in the nation. Last year he registered the sixth-highest rushing total in Cal history in his first season as a starter when he ran for 1,322 yards and 10 touchdowns on 252 carries to give Cal its ninth 1,000-yard rusher in the past 10 campaigns.
Anderson proved to be a capable second option a year ago and finished the season with 345 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 72 carries. Early in the season he was most often used in short-yardage and goal-line situations, but his role expanded later in the campaign and he has continued his improvement through last spring and into training camp.
"He had a great offseason, a great summer, he looks great right now," Tedford said. "He's a great leader for our team. Mentally he's really sharp, he doesn't make mental mistakes. He's pushing to be the No. 1 back."
Tedford also talked about using both Anderson and Sofele in the same backfield in 2012.
"They make be in the backfield together quite a bit," Tedford acknowledged.
But, it's not only Sofele and Anderson that could be in the team's backfield this season. Bigelow and Lasco are also producing excitement during training camp and also could contribute this season. Bigelow saw limited action as a true freshman in 2011 with six rushes for 25 yards, while Lasco was a redshirt.
"Bigelow's hitting it hard, he's not tentative whatsoever [and] Lasco the same way," Tedford said.
The team's day was pretty much a carbon copy of Monday that started with breakfast and meetings in the morning followed by a long break from football during the middle of the day for summer school. After practice the players returned to the Simpson Center for team and position meetings before calling it a night on the eve of Wednesday's first practice in full pads.
"I'm looking forward to pads tomorrow to bang a little bit and really see what we're all about." Tedford said. "It will be more like real football tomorrow."
The real games start with the season opener against Nevada at a renovated Memorial Stadium on Sat., Sept. 1 (Noon PT). The contest will be televised live by Pac-12 Networks, and the radio broadcast will be available on the Cal IMG Sports Radio Network with KGO 810 in San Francisco serving as the flagship station.
Tickets for Cal's return to a renovated Memorial Stadium in 2012 are currently on sale by calling (800) GO BEARS (800-462-3277), online at CalBears.com, or in person at the Sales and Service Center located in the Haas Pavilion Club Room Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. PT. More season-ticket information is available at CalBears.com. For updates on the progress of the renovation and retrofit of Memorial Stadium, visit californiamemorialstadium.com.
In addition to the Sept. 1 season-opener vs. Nevada, Cal's 2012 seven-game home schedule includes contests against Pac-12 foes Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, Washington and UCLA, as well as a non-conference game against Southern Utah.