New Cougs lend unique view of Cal

ARGUABLY THE TWO MOST important players in practice week game prep for the Cougars won't play a down of football on Saturday. One plays offense, one plays defense. Last year, they were in Berkeley, but both James Montgomery and Brandon Jones traded blue for crimson this offseason. And Montgomery is pulling double duty, playing the role of Cal's star RB this week against the Cougar defense.

James Montgomery was wearing No. 4 on the scout team on Tuesday as he emulated Jahvid Best, one of the Pac-10's top running backs. Best accounted for 277 yards of total offense against Michigan State, nearly half of Cal's 592 total yards.

"He has speed like no other," said Montgomery of his former teammate. "I've never seen anyone accelerate like him...he's've got to stop him before he gets started, and he gets started in two steps...I'm just trying to get the defense the most prepared as I can, getting an extra burst in there."

Montgomery did a pretty fair job of personifying his former teammate, testing the Cougar defense with a few nice runs.

Cornerback Brandon Jones, who has been hobbled with an ankle injury, talked about the Cal defense.

"They have a real good defense," said Jones. "They play together and all know each other's abilities...they're patient and they get to the ball... The linebackers are their strongest point."

Cal's defense is a little bit different than last year, said Jones.

"They changed it. It used to be a 4-3 and now it's a 3-4," said Jones, who said he's been giving the Cougar coaches the rundown on a number of Cal personnel.

THE INJURY BUG bit again on Tuesday, though to what extent was not known immediately after practice. But coach Paul Wulff didn't sound overly optimistic on the injury suffered by starting left guard Andrew Roxas.

"It doesn't look good...looks like he injured himself out there," said Wulff. "One of those accidents that happens -- a guy fell down and he fell into him...we're going to ice him down, and evaluate him."

Steven Ayers, who got his first college playing time and start last week at left tackle, slid over into Roxas' spot on Tuesday. Vaughn Lesuma returned from injury (back) to his left tackle spot.

Brian Danaher missed some of the practice (strained glute muscle), but Wulff said it doesn't appear anything that would keep him out of action on Saturday. Getting in some of the work with the first unit for Danaher on Tuesday was B.J. Guerra.

"You've got to grow up a lot faster," said Guerra, who said the call to the first team came with a sudden surge of nervous adrenaline. "To get things done, you have to know what you have to do every play, because at this level, you can't make any mistakes...I felt pretty comfortable...the more reps you get, it slows down and you pick things up."

Regardless of to what extent Roxas' injury turns out to be, Wulff said it's time for the Cougs to make gains.

"We have to keep pressing forward, and whoever is ready to go, is going to go," said Wulff. "If they're not, there's nothing that we can do. We're going to keep going at our pace, and the boat's moving forward, and we've got to keep going."

WULFF SAID he thought the Cougs "got some good work done" on Tuesday. He also reiterated what he mentioned last Wednesday, that the team needs to practice and prepare with passion. The attitude in practice during the week shows up on Saturday, said Wulff.

"They've got to have a great desire to prepare—mentally for practice -- and then go out and execute it in practice,"said Wulff. "We're still learning that.

"I thought today was good. Tomorrow needs to be better."

SPECIAL TEAMS WAS a sore spot for the Cougs on Saturday, and the staff will be working on getting them cleaned up this week.

"Not bad, it's going to be a work in progress," said Wulff when asked how he'd rate the special teams work on the day. "We'll get better this week."

Getting back starting punter Reid Forrest would help.

"I hope so, he made it through today. We'll take it one day at a time," said Wulff of his punter.

  • The wide receivers looked sharper than on Saturday, with some nice grabs -- including a leaping catch by Kevin Norrell on a ball thrown slightly behind him.

  • Gary Rogers had a little bit of everything going on during the scrimmage portion of the session. He threw a pick to one of the scout team safeties and his timing with the receivers wasn't consistent throughout, but he also threw both nice short and deep passes that were right on the money.

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