Fall Camp Notebook: Day Three

Quarterbacks Improve Play, Best Participates in Full-Contact Drills and Calvin Continues to Wow

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The Cal football team tacked on shoulder pads for the first time, and the intensity seemed to carry through from yesterday.

Quarterback play was markedly better, especially for Kevin Riley. Midway through practice, Riley and Nate Longshore went toe-to-toe in 7-on-7 drills, alternatively connecting on completions for about half a dozen sequences in a row.

"They looked pretty sharp today," coach Jeff Tedford said of the quarterbacks. "They had a lot of zing on their passes."

Brock Mansion also continued to do a steady job for the most part, while freshman Beau Sweeney seemed to bolt out of the pocket a bit less frequently than he did yesterday. Sweeney had mentioned that he brings speed to the position prior to fall camp; while he obviously isn't all there yet, offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said after practice that he loves Sweeney's instincts.

Today was also the first time tailback Jahvid Best practiced without a yellow no-contact shirt under his jersey, and he absorbed his share of hits from a defense that had been starved of contact.

"The thought that was going through my head was, 'Keep driving my feet,' not really focusing or worried about my hip or getting injured," Best said, describing the first time he was met by a gang of tacklers in today's practice. "I'm just trying to get out there and do what I do, so I mean, I'm just focusing on executing the play."

His touchdown run during a segment of 11-on-11 drills, when he zigzagged through a slew of linebackers and defensive backs, was arguably the evening's top highlight. Come the regular season, Best could have a few more opportunities each Saturday to add to his highlight reel, as he'll assume a share of the Bears' punt return duties. He'll no longer be a gunner, which he says he is going to miss, but Bryan Anger's towering punts are giving him enough to worry about for now.

"I did (punt returns) in high school, but in high school, the balls weren't flying like they do now," Best laughed. "You've got Bryan Anger kicking so far, it's harder to judge a ball. You've gotta think about the wind, you've gotta read the ball. It's a lot harder, but I'm getting it down."

Shane Vereen, who struggled a bit hauling in passes, left the field towards the end of practice. Tedford later said he suffered a lower-leg bruise.

Freshman Marvin Jones continued to flash his potential, as did many other receivers on occasion. But the day belonged to Michael Calvin, who made one impressive catch after another all over the field.

"He's quick, he's fast and he's big," cornerback Chris Conte said. "He can jump out of the room. Just that combination kind of makes him hard to defend."

Conte played opposite redshirt sophomore Darian Hagan for most of the night, as Syd'Quan Thompson was excused for the day.


Contact Andrew Kim at [email protected]

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