First, the crowd easily exceeded that which was present at the end of the Cal/USC game in 2001 (the commonly acknowledged nadir of modern Cal football history). Secondly, the team demonstrated the kind of depth that Bear fans could only dream about before head coach Jeff Tedford arrived on the scene in Berkeley. And, thirdly, there is a confidence in the air that says, "Bring it on!"
This was not a typical Blue/Gold match-up. The team has too many players sidelined to put on a regular scrimmage. Instead, the team featured a variety of drills for 90 minutes followed by a limited scrimmage of 60 minutes. The following details the highlights of the afternoons activities:
Without a doubt, the top play from scrimmage was TB Terrell Williams 49-yard touchdown run. He exhibited a burst of speed that confirmed his knee is no longer an issue. Another player who demonstrated some swiftness was WR Noah Smith. After receiving a pass down the line of scrimmage from QB Cary Dove, Smith fumbled the ball, had it bounce back into his hands and then he took off. It was no contest as he ran away from the defenders on his way to a 45-yard TD. Yes, he is as fast as advertised.
Also notable were the efforts of FB Frank Summers, WR Junior Brignac and TE Eric Beegun. On one carry, Summers found the center of the line was not open, bounced around the left end and scooted 25 yards to the end zone. Brignac caught a beautifully thrown fade pass for a score. And, Beegun made a great sliding catch of a Cary Dove pass for a 20-yard TD.
Neither Dove nor QB Reggie Robertson were outstanding. Robertson was 4 for 7 for 39 yards with one interception while Dove was 4 for 6 for 64 yards with one touchdown..
Offensive Player of the Day Terrell Williams
Those who have cried for "over the top" support from the safety position for the last several years would have wept with joy today. Safety Ryan Gutierrez intercepted a pass intended for Noah Smith on a play in which he provided support coverage. Also, Daymeion Hughes was everywhere, making play after play. Simply stated, he will be All-Pac10 before long. Another DB who made some noise today was CB Thomas DeCoud. He broke up a pair of passes and made a great block (reminiscent of DE Ryan Riddle v. Illinois last year) on special teams. Also, it was great to see CB Tim Mixon on the field today. The Bears appear to be set at corner with Hughes, Mixon, DeCoud and Harrison Smith (one pass break-up today) manning the two-deep.
The defensive line had little opportunity to "show their stuff"; however, DE Ray Tago did ring up one sack.
Defensive Player of the Day Thomas DeCoud
Sam DeSa gave notice that he will be a force on the return units. His kickoff return of 60 yards was a thing of beauty as he went up the middle, veered right and outran most of the coverage team.
Punting continued to be a bit of an adventure with only two of nine attempts exceeding 4.0 seconds of hang time (David Lonie and Lucas Everett one apiece). Of the three punters, Lonie, Everett and Taylor Kunzi, the best was Lonie. Poor snapping was a contributing factor to the mediocre punting.
Field goal kicking was much better. At the end of the scrimmage, each of the three placekickers, Lonie, Anthony Binswanger and Tom Schneider lined up from the 20, 30 and 40 yard lines. From the 20, they were 1 for 3 (Binswanger), from the 30, they were 2 for 3 (Schneider and Lonie) and from the 40, all three kickers converted their respective attempts.
Special Teams Player of the Day Sam DeSa
In the blocking drills, the standouts were OG Jonathon Murphy, he did a fine job when matched up against a defender. Also, FB Chris Manderino and FB Byron Storer held their own against some tough opposition. On the defensive side of the ball, DT Matthew Malele and LB Francis Blay-Miezah repeatedly did a fine job of defeating the blocker to make the play.
It was a great wrap-up to a solid spring. The key to success this season will be how the Bears handle the heightened expectations. If Coach Tedford can get the players to maintain their focus on the task at hand and not become wrapped up in all the attendant hoopla that will inevitably become part of the show, Cal should do very well. Fortunately, Coach Tedford has experience dealing with everything that comes with success (having once coached on a #2-ranked team). The sky is the limit for this squad. Let the games begin...
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