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Cal alumni and the NFL draft

Posted by Eric | April 30, 2006 at 2:59 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Former Cal offensive linemen Ryan O’Callaghan (tackle), Marvin Philip (center), and Aaron Merz (guard) have been selected in the NFL draft. O’Callaghan was selected in the fifth round (136th overall) by the New England Patriots. Philip was selected in the sixth round (201st overall) by the Pittsburg Steelers. Merz was selected in the seventh round (248th overall) by the Buffalo Bills. Congratulations to all of them.

In other news, there’s an article out about former Cal receiver Chase Lyman. Lyman was selected in the fourth round by the New Orleans Saints last year, and finally appears to be doing well enough to play. He suffered injury after injury throughout college and the NFL, but he was very good when healthy. Hopefully we’ll see him on the field next season.

Media on the spring scrimmage

Posted by Eric | April 24, 2006 at 2:01 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Here’s a few articles from the past 2 days with insight on the spring scrimmage on Saturday:

Impressions from the spring game

Posted by Eric | April 22, 2006 at 4:33 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Today I had to chance to watch the annual spring scrimmage with a free burrito. To be honest, the game wasn’t too spectacular but seeing the team play increased my excitement for the upcoming season.

In addition to the starters, the second and third stringers got a great deal of playing time. In terms of the spread, we didn’t see too much of the predicted complexity in the offense, but some option plays out of the shotgun. Overall, it felt like there was a lot left to be seen.

Joe Ayoob did not get a chance under center (he was injured) but did hold for the placekickers. Of the other three QBs, Nate Longshore looked the sharpest throwing, having the luxury of running the first-string offense. While he had some touchdown passes, he did struggle somewhat in running plays. We also got a glimpse of Kyle Reed in play; he showed a lot of potential but definitely needs more experience before taking the starting position. Steve Levy showed a lot of heart and made some great runs, but had some difficulty with passes. I heard he hurt his hand early on in the scrimmage, but I’m not able to confirm that. A nice surprise was seeing him make a few punts as well. They actually looked pretty good.

We didn’t see much from the receivers, as most of the plays in the air were short passes. In the opening drive, DeSean Jackson caught a pass from Longshore and took it something like 75 yards to score. He also returned a punt for a touchdown. There were a few more catches from Lavelle Hawkins, Robert Jordan and LaReylle Cunningham, but nothing much to talk about.

Tight end Craig Stevens also caught a touchdown pass from Longshore in the red zone. I’m not sure if we saw much from the other tight ends.

Marshawn Lynch didn’t appear as explosive as usual and lacked any jaw-dropping plays, but looked solid up the middle. Justin Forsett looked good too, and had some nice moves.

The offensive line looked decent, but not as dominant with the loss of last year’s seniors. They could improve, but they don’t look bad either.

On the defensive side, things look very good. The players are strong and fast. The line always put the pressure on, sometimes overwhelming the offensive line. The linebackers made a lot of tackles, with Desmond Bishop making quite a few plays. The defensive backs did well and got close to a bunch of interceptions, with Tim Mixon returning a pick off Reed for a touchdown.

Overall, the team looked ready for the season. The offense seems to be progressing well, and with a more experienced offensive line they will be a powerhouse. Meanwhile, the defense is definitely solid and will be feared next season.

Lynch running better, smarter

Posted by Eric | April 20, 2006 at 5:12 pm | In Marshawn | No Comments

The Contra Costa Times is saying that Marshawn Lynch is running smarter, making him even more dangerous on the field. In addition, it reports that he’s weighing in at 225, something like 10 pounds more than last year. At 5′10″, he’s going to be a monster. Here’s an excerpt:

Jay Heater says: Although Cal tailback Marshawn Lynch gained 1,246 yards as a sophomore, the third-best rushing year in team history, running backs coach Ron Gould said Lynch only has started to tap into his potential.

“He has gotten so much better (in the offseason),” Gould said. “He has gotten better in terms of work ethic, and I see a better back in terms of all-around play. He is running the ball harder inside. He has been great in meetings. He is smart like a fox.”

You can see the rest of the article here. It also mentions that fellow tailback Marcus O’Keith has put on 20 pounds to 200, and Justin Forsett is looking good as usual.

Cal the #6 “most intriguing system shift”

Posted by Eric | April 20, 2006 at 2:40 am | In Coaches, Offense | No Comments

ESPN’s Bruce Feldman has listed Cal sixth in his list of the most intriguing system shifts. He says:

Jeff Tedford has been considered one of college football’s sharper offensive minds. I think he could probably turn Steve Levy (the SportsCenter host, not the one-time Cal fullback) into a winning QB. However, Tedford is tinkering with his system. He hired Northwestern assistant Mike Dunbar to incorporate more principles of the spread offense into his attack, which the new OC reasons should help the Bear QBs see the field better while operating out of the shotgun. It also will open up wider lanes for star TBs Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett. After all, it sure made unheralded freshman Tyrell Sutton look great. Dunbar’s offense led the Big Ten in total offense last season and was fourth in the nation in total yardage and seventh in passing.

To spice things up even more, Tedford visited West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez for a better handle on the evolution of the spread and all that it can do with formations and disguising things. This should be fun. The Bears have a ton of firepower, although their O-line won’t be as experienced as last year’s unit.

Read the rest of the article here.

Ayoob challenging Longshore as starter

Posted by Eric | April 17, 2006 at 8:19 am | In Quarterback | No Comments

As reported yesterday, former starting quarterback Joe Ayoob appears to be doing increasingly well in spring practice. The SF Chronicle is reporting that he’s challenging Nate Longshore as front-runner for the starting spot.

Brace Adams says: Ayoob has been a surprise. He’s beginning to show the form that earned him junior college All-America honors at CCSF, where he led the Rams to a national championship as a freshman.

“He’s throwing the ball a lot sharper,” Tedford said.

Ayoob has been helped by changes in Cal’s offense, with Tedford incorporating elements of the spread-option, which Dunbar used at Northwestern in leading the nation’s No. 4-ranked offense last season. It is similar to the pure spread Ayoob ran at City College.

Read the whole article here. If he does take over the starting spot from Longshore, it’ll be a remarkable comeback after his meltdown of a season last year that ended with boos at home. I’d like to see Longshore take over after his nasty injury last season, but we’ll see who Tedford decides on.

2006 Preview on College Football News

Posted by Eric | April 17, 2006 at 1:37 am | In Ranks/Predictions | No Comments

College Football News has put up a rather lengthy preview on the team for 2006. They praise the potential of the team, giving a lot of specific details on players, stats, and the schedule. In addition, the article includes some breakdowns and analysis that make for good reading and overall excitement for the upcoming season. Check it out here.

More on QB progress and interview with Tedford

Posted by Eric | April 16, 2006 at 12:56 pm | In Coaches, Quarterback | No Comments

There’s a new interview video with head coach Jeff Tedford and some analysis from The Bear Insider about the progress of our quarterbacks. Between the four of them, it seems that: Nate Longshore understands the offense best and makes the better reads; Kyle Reed is throwing well but can’t handle the defense; Steve Levy is good with decisions but doesn’t have a good arm; surprisingly, Joe Ayoob is looking particularly good with passes and runs in the spread (this article in the Contra Costa Times also points this out). Take a look.

Practice report

Posted by Eric | April 15, 2006 at 5:19 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

The Bear Insider has a nice report of practice on Friday, including details about the outcome of some plays and the overall progress of team. The article talks about the performance of the QBs, kickers, receivers, offensive line, and defense. There’s also an interview with defensive back Daymeion Hughes on video. Check it out.

Tedford hires new DB coach

Posted by Eric | April 13, 2006 at 11:38 am | In Coaches | No Comments

R. Todd Littlejohn has been hired as the new secondary coach. He spent last season at Buffalo, but also coached at UCLA, SJ State, and the SJ SaberCats (arena). See the article here.

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