"The afternoon went well"

You can buy the preseason football preview, set up your countdown clocks, and buy the new year's shirts, but nothing quite ushers in the upcoming football season like the first day of practice. While the new players showed up for the morning session, all returning players participated in the afternoon session where players went through drills that they've gone repeatedly in the spring. With the first game of the season less than four weeks away, everything takes on a little more seriousness.

As expected, the Monday afternoon practice was light, opening with stretching and basic drills, and eventually working up to 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. With neither shells or pads being used, the emphasis was on reintroducing players to the basics and helping them get reacquainted on the field.

"This afternoon went well," head coach Jeff Tedford told a group of reporters afterwards.  "The players put in a good summer and the tempo today was good. They hustled, they really respected each other, and I was pleased to see the camraderie."

"We worked on tempo, alignments, and getting people used to working together. When you get people together who respect each other, you're not getting them injured."

A good amount of the afternoon was spent on passing drills with running backs and tight ends going up against linebackers on one side of the field an wide receivers working against defensive backs on the other side of the field. Quarterbacks Nate Longshore and Joe Ayoob spent most of their time working with the wide receivers, while Bryan Van Meter and Steve Levy principally worked with the backs and tight ends.

"The quarterbacks were a little rusty today but there's been some retention from the spring."

The quarterbacks also spent time working on hitch patterns - not only is timing critical, but also location. A pass too high exposes the wide receiver, while a pass behind slows the receiver up, and a completely missed pass can result in a deflection, or an interception.  Likewise, receivers have to catch and control the ball quickly and be quick coming out of the turn. If everything's executed propertly, it could mean the difference between a 5-yard play and a long touchdown.

During early practice, the defensive backs appeared to have the edge on receivers as Harrison Smith and Tim Mixon broke up passes in the early going. As the afternoon went on, different players had their moments, wide receiver Drew Glover caught a deep pass from Van Meter, LaReylle Cunningham had a couple of nice catches and Ryan Foltz and Randy Bundy did good jobs of knocking away passes.

It's far too early to draw any conclusions based off of this one practice other than these are the first few steps of a five-month journey and to see how these first few days will fit into the larger picture. One issue is how the leadership roles will be filled this year.

"When you have 26 guys move on leadership needs to surface," Tedford said. "You're going to need to count on it when people start going through tough times...Some level of leadership will surface, and we'll find out more as practice goes along.  We saw some of that take place this afternoon and we're pleased They're all good character kids, and they have the ability to take on leadership qualities."

Tedford's happy with what he's seen from the freshmen so far.

"I've been very impressed with the focus and work ethic of the freshmen. It's been nice to see them getting together with each other and it's great to see them on the field running around."

While in the past only a few members of the incoming freshman class participated in summer bridge, that changed this year.

"We had all 18 freshmen participate in summer bridge," said Tedford. "This is the first year that we've had everyone. Usually we've just had the mandatories show up, this time we had all the freshmen. For all of them to sacrifice their summer and come here, they all did a nice job and got over whatever homesickness they might have had."

But aside from everybody getting together and beginning the process of  focusing upholding the standard that the 2004 team set, it's also a time to begin coaching - which means keeping players alert.

"You really want to work on having people pay attention to detail," said Tedford. "If you've got somebody who's a senior who makes a bad decision, he understands that and maybe you don't have to tell him again.  If you've got someone who's new, you need to coach him about what he's doing.

"Some guys who've been here will hear the same thing they've heard for three years - about everything from bed check to keeping the locker room clean. But you name it, you have to cover it."

Notes...Drew Glover and Cameron Toler, both redshirt freshmen from Bishop O'Dowd who were listed as defensive backs in the spring, will be shifted over to wide receiver. Glover, who made several nice catches as a wide receiver on Monday afternoon, will be wearing #84 this fall. In the spring roster, he appears as #42, and in the early fall roster, he appeared as #35...Syd'Quan Thompson will be playing defensive back this fall...Mike Tepper was in on the sideline with crutches. He has his cast off and now has a boot around his ankle...Starting on Tuesday, both new and returning players will begin practicing together...A small group of recruits attended the afternoon practice, including Allen Bradford and Shareece Wright.


©Copyright 2005, TheBearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this online community and get access to the members-only content from the nationwide Insiders network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.


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As expected, the Monday afternoon practice was light, opening with stretching and basic drills, and eventually working up to 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. With neither shells or pads being used, the emphasis was on reintroducing players to the basics and helping them get reacquainted on the field.

"This afternoon went well," head coach Jeff Tedford told a group of reporters afterwards.  "The players put in a good summer and the tempo today was good. They hustled, they really respected each other, and I was pleased to see the camraderie."

"We worked on tempo, alignments, and getting people used to working together. When you get people together who respect each other, you're not getting them injured."

A good amount of the afternoon was spent on passing drills with running backs and tight ends going up against linebackers on one side of the field an wide receivers working against defensive backs on the other side of the field. Quarterbacks Nate Longshore and Joe Ayoob spent most of their time working with the wide receivers, while Bryan Van Meter and Steve Levy principally worked with the backs and tight ends.

"The quarterbacks were a little rusty today but there's been some retention from the spring."

The quarterbacks also spent time working on hitch patterns - not only is timing critical, but also location. A pass too high exposes the wide receiver, while a pass behind slows the receiver up, and a completely missed pass can result in a deflection, or an interception.  Likewise, receivers have to catch and control the ball quickly and be quick coming out of the turn. If everything's executed propertly, it could mean the difference between a 5-yard play and a long touchdown.

During early practice, the defensive backs appeared to have the edge on receivers as Harrison Smith and Tim Mixon broke up passes in the early going. As the afternoon went on, different players had their moments, wide receiver Drew Glover caught a deep pass from Van Meter, LaReylle Cunningham had a couple of nice catches and Ryan Foltz and Randy Bundy did good jobs of knocking away passes.

It's far too early to draw any conclusions based off of this one practice other than these are the first few steps of a five-month journey and to see how these first few days will fit into the larger picture. One issue is how the leadership roles will be filled this year.

"When you have 26 guys move on leadership needs to surface," Tedford said. "You're going to need to count on it when people start going through tough times...Some level of leadership will surface, and we'll find out more as practice goes along.  We saw some of that take place this afternoon and we're pleased They're all good character kids, and they have the ability to take on leadership qualities."

Tedford's happy with what he's seen from the freshmen so far.

"I've been very impressed with the focus and work ethic of the freshmen. It's been nice to see them getting together with each other and it's great to see them on the field running around."

While in the past only a few members of the incoming freshman class participated in summer bridge, that changed this year.

"We had all 18 freshmen participate in summer bridge," said Tedford. "This is the first year that we've had everyone. Usually we've just had the mandatories show up, this time we had all the freshmen. For all of them to sacrifice their summer and come here, they all did a nice job and got over whatever homesickness they might have had."

But aside from everybody getting together and beginning the process of  focusing upholding the standard that the 2004 team set, it's also a time to begin coaching - which means keeping players alert.

"You really want to work on having people pay attention to detail," said Tedford. "If you've got somebody who's a senior who makes a bad decision, he understands that and maybe you don't have to tell him again.  If you've got someone who's new, you need to coach him about what he's doing.

"Some guys who've been here will hear the same thing they've heard for three years - about everything from bed check to keeping the locker room clean. But you name it, you have to cover it."

Notes...Drew Glover and Cameron Toler, both redshirt freshmen from Bishop O'Dowd who were listed as defensive backs in the spring, will be shifted over to wide receiver. Glover, who made several nice catches as a wide receiver on Monday afternoon, will be wearing #84 this fall. In the spring roster, he appears as #42, and in the early fall roster, he appeared as #35...Syd'Quan Thompson will be playing defensive back this fall...Mike Tepper was in on the sideline with crutches. He has his cast off and now has a boot around his ankle...Starting on Tuesday, both new and returning players will begin practicing together...A small group of recruits attended the afternoon practice, including Allen Bradford and Shareece Wright.

©Copyright 2005, TheBearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this online community and get access to the members-only content from the nationwide Insiders network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.

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