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Spring open practice report

Posted by Eric | April 13, 2008 at 4:06 pm | In Defense, Offense, Players/Alumni, Quarterback, Special Teams | 2 Comments

Yesterday, Cal fans turned out a sizeable crowd for the Bears’ open practice/scrimmage. Here is a report, courtesy of GFang:

Quarterback

[Kevin] Riley- did not get to show off his arm too much . . . but when he threw, was very crisp and accurate with zip. He would’ve been perfect if Calvin didn’t drop 2 of his passes (that may be Calvin’s weakness). He had great protection, but he did run for 6 yards when under pressure once. Riley’s best pass was a 20 yard TD strike to Calvin deep in the endzone towards the end of practice. That got the biggest pop from the crowd today. Basically, he looked very accurate and was not afraid to thread the needle.

[Brock] Mansion- struggled, even in warm-ups. Misthrew about half of his passes. Does not have the mechanics that Riley does. I think he needs another year to work out the kinks.

Running Back

[Tracy] Slocum got into endzone twice, including a 15 yarder down the right sideline. He is workmanlike. In general he picked up at least 4-5 yards per carry against the 1st team defense. [Covaughn DeBoskie] is slender but tough. Runs very fluidly. He did fumble once after a nice gain, which was recovered by CB [Syd'Quan Thompson].

Defense

DE [Ernest] Owusu- played 2nd team; registered 3 sacks, including 2 in a row on QB Cory Smits. He will contribute this season!

LB [Zach] Follett, LB Charles Johnson, and DL [Jon] Karacozoff got their names called often, also.

Special Teams

[Thompson] is a natural at returning punts. WR Nyan Boateng also returned punts; his chances to return were limited. I’d definitely pick Squid to return punts, even if he’s our no. 1 CB.

P [Bryan] Anger is the real deal. Got big pops from the crowd. Thunderous leg! The 2nd chance he got, he launched it 10 yards over [Thompson]’s head and the offense recovered it. The 3rd time he punted, the returner stood way back lol. Anger will be able to consistently kick 50-55 yard punts with great hangtime. Right now he’s at about 70% consistency. I predict he starts for the next 4 years.

Feel free to chime in with any additional observations or thoughts about the scrimmage.

Heater’s blog, with insider position info

Posted by Eric | March 10, 2007 at 8:07 pm | In Defense, Offense, Players/Alumni, Quarterback, Special Teams | No Comments

EDIT: Jay’s done with all the positions, so check them out.

The Contra Costa Times’ Jay Heater is on a roll, with a special series on his blog detailing the situations of each of the team’s positions. It’s very informative stuff, so take a look:

  • 2/28: Middle linebacker: Coach Kenwick Thompson, Zack Follett, Greg Van Hoesen, Matt Russi
  • 3/01: Outside linebacker: Justin Moye, Anthony Felder, Eddie Young, Worrell Williams, Shea McIntyre, Mike Mohamed, Devin Bishop, Alex Cook, more
  • 3/02: Cornerback: Syd’Quan Thompson, Darian Hagan, Charles Amadi, Brandon Jones
  • 3/03: Offensive line: Alex Mack, Mike Gibson, Brian De La Puente, Noris Malele, Mike Tepper, Chris Guarnero, Chet Teofilo, Matt Laird
  • 3/03: Safety: Thomas DeCoud, Bernard Hicks, Brandon Hampton, Robert Peele, Marcus Ezeff
  • 3/05: Defensive line: Matt Malele, Mika Kane, Derrick Hill, Mike Costanzo, Cody Jones, Rulon Davis, Tad Smith, John Allen, Scott Smith, Phillip Mbakogu
  • 3/06: Running back: Justin Forsett, James Montgomery, Tracy Slocum, Bryan Schutte, Jahvid Best, Shane Vareen
  • 3/07: Fullback: Will Ta’ufo’ou, Brian Holley, RJ Garrett
  • 3/08: Wideout: DeSean Jackson, Robert Jordan, Lavelle Hawkins, Sam DeSa, Sean Young, LaReylle Cunningham, Jeremy Ross, Daniel Lofton
  • 3/09: Tight end: Craig Stevens, Cameron Morrah, Julian Arthur, Skylar Curran, Garry Graffort
  • 3/09: Special teams: Tom Schneider, Andrew Larson, DeSean Jackson, Nick Sundberg, more
  • 3/09: Quarterback: Nate Longshore, Kyle Reed, Kevin Riley

Enjoy.

Jackson in the media

Posted by Eric | November 15, 2006 at 8:48 am | In Offense, Special Teams | No Comments

Wide receiver/punt returner DeSean Jackson is getting some heavy media attention this week. While his huge numbers on the field are drawing much of this attention, his confidence and story about committing to Cal over USC are as well. As TBIOOTF writes, Jackson may be the “cockiest Cal player ever.” But is he overconfident? I don’t think so… just watch the highlights on Saturday. Regardless, Jackson is a hot topic for pundits, bulletin boards and blogs this week.

Jackson doesn’t shy away from comparing himself to last year’s Heisman-winner, and puts a target on his back for Saturday’s match-up.

LA Times: “Breakaway Threat”
Long Beach Poly’s DeSean Jackson almost stayed home to play for USC, but Trojans lost him because he felt coaches betrayed a confidence. Now he stars for rival Cal. …
Jackson welcomes comparisons to Bush. “It’s just too bad I’m not playing for SC because if I was playing for SC then it probably would be a different thing,” he said. “I’m the closest thing to Reggie Bush. But I kind of don’t like to follow after too many people. I just try to be myself.” …
“There was too much cockiness over there for me. They were SC. They’re national champions. They’re just guaranteed they could have whoever they want. I kind of felt like I was a more special player than that and they shouldn’t have taken it for granted like that.”

His commitment to that Cal class was also a great indication of the program’s emergence and success in California recruiting.

San Jose Mercury News: “Jackson’s escape from L.A. keeps paying dividends for Cal”
When Cal and USC collide Saturday, the top playmaker on the field will be a sophomore who grew up near the Los Angeles Coliseum, followed the Trojans as a kid, attended their summer camp, watched their practices, knew their players, toured their campus, heard their recruiting pitch — and chose Cal.

How often do the Trojans lose L.A. kids? About as often as they lose games.

“That’s the reason, right there,” Cal receiver DeSean Jackson said. “I didn’t want to follow everybody else. I’m not a follower.”

USC will be focusing on an attempt to shut down Jackson in punt-return game. Don’t be surprised to see many punts go out of bounds.

Orange County Register: “Jackson a danger on special teams”
The extra minutes USC coach Pete Carroll spent working on special teams last week could pay off hugely this week against Cal’s DeSean Jackson. Jackson, a punt return specialist and receiver, leads the nation with four punt-return touchdowns, his latest - and fifth overall - coming against Arizona on Saturday when he raced 95 yards for a first-quarter score.

Coach Pete Carroll and USC know about Jackson’s talent and will be preparing for it. Will they be ready?

Sacramento Bee: “Jackson a haymaker of a player”
Amazingly, Jackson has just 23 career punt returns, scoring on 21.7 percent of his attempts. It’s never a surprise when he breaks a big play. Cal coach Jeff Tedford and his staff have been the beneficiaries of Jackson’s desire to leave Southern California and bypass the strong overtures of the Trojans.

“He had spots (last season) when he made some plays, but he’s really torn it up this year,” USC coach Pete Carroll told the Los Angeles Times. “Gosh, they’ve thrown to him deep so many times, and the punt returns alone are awesome.”

Both Longshore, Jackson named Pac-10 Players of the Week

Posted by Eric | November 7, 2006 at 9:56 am | In Awards, Offense, Special Teams | No Comments

Both Nate Longshore (offense) and DeSean Jackson (special teams) have been honored with the Pac-10 Player of the Week award for their performances against UCLA. It’s very rare to see two players from the same team get honored in the same week so this is special, despite it being Longshore’s third such award of the season.

Longshore, a sophomore from Canyon Country, Calif., completed 20-of-24 passes (.833) for 266 yards and three touchdowns of 10, 24 and 44 yards with no interceptions. he added two rushes for 17 yards to compile 283 yards total offense. It marks the third time this year Longshore has been named Pac-10 offensive player of the week, having previously been honored after wins against Minnesota and Arizona State.

Jackson, a sophomore from Long Beach, Calif., returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown against the Bruins. It was Jackson’s third punt return for a touchdown this season and fourth of his career, tying Pac-10 records in both categories.

Vote for Cal’s Game-changing Performance

Posted by Steve | November 5, 2006 at 4:31 pm | In Awards, Special Teams | 1 Comment

For the second time this season, DeSean Jackson and the Bears have been nominated for Pontiac’s Game-Changing Performance. Both nominations have been for punts returned for touchdowns; first an 80-yard return against Arizona State, this week for a 72-yard punt return against UCLA. The punt return, made possible by a crushing block by Thomas DeCoud, put the Bears up 28-10 late in the 3rd quarter.

Schneider wins Pac-10 Player of the Week (ST)

Posted by Eric | October 2, 2006 at 2:58 pm | In Awards, Special Teams | No Comments

Kicker Tom Schneider has been honored with the Pac-10 Player of the Week award for his special teams play.

Smith, White, Schneider Named U.S. Bank Pac-10 Football Players of the Week:

Schneider, a junior from Walnut Creek, Calif., was perfect on two field goal attempts and five PATs to account for 11 points in California’s 41-13 win at Oregon State.

QB Nate Longshore was again nominated for the award on offense, but probably did not win due to the fact that he already received it twice this season.

Vote for Cal’s Pontiac Game Changing Performance

Posted by Steve | September 26, 2006 at 12:37 am | In Awards, Games, Marshawn, Special Teams | No Comments

DeSean Jackson’s second-quarter, 80-yard punt return for a touchdown is one of four plays nominated for Week 4’s Pontiac Game Changing Performance. The University to win this award will receive a $5,000 contribution to their general scholarship fund and place them in the running for the $100,000 Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the Year. Voting began Sunday, and will end on Wednesday night. Go here to vote. As extra incentive to vote, Pontiac is also giving away a $5,000 scholarship each week to one lucky visitor to the site, so hurry up, and go support our Bears. While you’re at it, also don’t forget to drop by here once a week to vote for Marshawn Lynch for the Heisman.

Longshore Pac-10 Player of the Week - again

Posted by Eric | September 25, 2006 at 10:42 pm | In Awards, Defense, Quarterback, Special Teams | 2 Comments

QB Nate Longshore has been named Pac-10 offensive player of the week for the second time this season.

Longshore, a sophomore from Canyon Country, Calif., directed California’s offense in the Golden Bears’ 49-21 win against No. 18-ranked Arizona State. Longshore completed 18 of 26 passes (.692) for 270 yards and four touchdowns covering 9, 31, 23 and 8 yards with just one interception. All four touchdown passes came in the first half as California built a 42-14 halftime lead. It marks the second time this season Longshore has been named Pac-10 offensive player of the week having also been so honored after his performance in Cal’s win against Minnesota.

DB Daymeion Hughes and WR/PR DeSean Jackson were also nominated for defensive PotW and special teams PotW, respectively.

Personnel, prediction, and more on the ASU matchup

Posted by Eric | September 21, 2006 at 12:03 pm | In Defense, Games, Special Teams | No Comments

Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said that Mickey Pimentel will be starting Saturday over Justin Moye at linebacker (who will also get snaps). Pimentel looked good against Portland State and recorded a sack with Brandon Mebane.

The Contra Costa Times also has a nice article about linebacker Worrell Williams. The combination of Pimentel, Williams, and Desmond Bishop is a mean one, and they should live up to the preseason hype against ASU.

Also, Marcus O’Keith got a well-deserved feature article in the Daily Cal today. O’Keith has definitely taken advantage of the limited opportunities he’s had on the field. He’s been named the starter at kickoff returns (instead of Marshawn Lynch) for ASU, as well.

Finally, here are some more quotes (in addition to the last post) on the Cal/ASU matchup on Saturday.

Contra Costa Times’ Jay Heater:

Pressure would seem to be a crucial aspect of this game. ASU 18 sacks, Cal 5 sacks. However, Cal faced a running team in Minnesota and the Portland State game was a blowout and can be discounted. Even so, it will be interesting to see if the Bears can put the screws to ASU sophomore QB Rudy Carpenter.

ESPN’s Bruce Feldman:

This one figures to be one of those traditional Pac-10 offensive shows. There is a very intriguing matchup here between the improved Sun Devils’ run defense (third in the Pac-10, allowing 2.6 yards per carry) and the great Marshawn Lynch. I’m not very sold on the ASU D and I still expect Lynch to run wild. Plus I like the home field edge.

Thing that has me sold: Marshawn Lynch.

Scouts Inc.’s ASU-Cal Edge:

Expect a close game but Arizona State will come up just short on the road. The Sun Devils will keep the game close thanks to their offensive balance. However, Cal’s run defense is strong enough to put Carpenter in more third-and-long situations than Koetter would like to see. That pressure will cause Carpenter to make some uncharacteristically poor decisions and/or errant throws that end drives.

The Sun Devils will have some success getting to Longshore as well, but their corners will have a hard time matching up with Cal’s deep corps of receivers. Cal will have consistent success moving the ball on the ground and don’t be surprised to see their backs break some long runs. In addition, the Bears have the home run threats in the return game to win the battle of field position.

ESPN’s Craig James:

Q: Does Tedford and the boys have any shot against a high powered Arizona State offense this weekend?
A: I think they do…and that they will beat ASU. The Cal debacle at Tenn earlier was just a snowball they couldn’t stop. This weekend we should see the real Cal team

Also interesting to note:

In the last 28 Pac-10 games, only USC (27-1) has a better record than Cal (21-7) and ASU (20-8). … ASU leads the series against Cal 13-12, but the Bears have won four of the past five.

Bears redeemed in decisive victory over Minnesota

Posted by Eric | September 10, 2006 at 1:19 pm | In Defense, Games, Offense, Quarterback, Special Teams | 1 Comment

I predicted 41-28, but Cal exceeded expectations and soundly defeated the Gophers 42-17 last night.

The defense was notably improved. Redshirt freshman Syd’Quan Thompson found redemption with great coverage and several tackles, including one for a loss. Daymeion Hughes made two interceptions. Brandon Mebane and the defensive line did well facing Minnesota’s powerful offensive line and running attack. Mebane and Mickey Pimentel each had sacks, an impressive feat considering that Minnesota only allowed 3 sacks total last season and has gone 8 consecutive games without giving one up. Most of all, the defense made sound tackles.

On the offensive side of the ball, Nate Longshore lived up to his potential and emerged as the definite starting quarterback of the team. Completing 22 of 31 passes with 4 touchdowns and 300 yards, Longshore was able to lead the offense and execute sharply. The offense included both pro-set and spread plays, a hybrid that seemed effective to confuse Minnesota’s defense. The running game was powerful and effective as well, and the Marshawn Lynch / Justin Forsett duo pounded the Gophers into submission. The receivers also looked very good. Lavelle Hawkins gained serious yards (125) while DeSean Jackson was Longshore’s favorite for the endzone with 3 TD catches and 100+ yards also.

Special teams coverage needs some work, as they gave up a 99 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Both Andrew Larson on punts and Tom Schneider on kickoffs looked good.

There were a few stupid personal foul penalties that should have been avoided. Hopefully this is addressed by Coach Jeff Tedford.

The stadium was especially loud on Minnesota’s third down plays, causing at least two false starts.

Overall, the game was a great bounce back to winning form from last week. The Bears looked like what they should’ve one week earlier. They were confident, poised, and they executed brilliantly.

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