Midweek Notebook: Week 3

First Practice Post-Maryland Is Spirited One

Photo: Tailback Shane Vereen was electric in the Bears' first two games, but an ankle sprain suffered against Maryland kept him in a red jersey and out of practice Tuesday afternoon.
Nathan Yan/File
Tailback Shane Vereen was electric in the Bears' first two games, but an ankle sprain suffered against Maryland kept him in a red jersey and out of practice Tuesday afternoon.

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With last Saturday's loss to Maryland still fresh in its memory, the Cal football team responded with a spirited and physical practice session that defensive coordinator Bob Gregory later described as one of the best bye-practices the Bears have had since he's been at Memorial Stadium.

"Guys got after it," Gregory said. "Guys were physical. Guys were on the ball. It was a real good practice."

Gregory wants more from safeties

Gregory was quick to shoulder the blame for Cal's lack of aggressiveness last Saturday -- "that's my fault for not getting them ready to play," he said -- he also voiced that he expects better play from the safeties.

"The safeties were not good," Gregory said. "They gave us not the kind of run support that we need. We've got to get better there."

Junior Marcus Ezeff appears to be in good graces at this point, as Gregory described him as the team's best safety. However, the other two in contention for a starting spot, Bernard Hicks and Brett Johnson, will continue to battle it out throughout the next two weeks before the Bears face Colorado State on Sept. 27.

In the front seven, it had appeared that defensive end Cameron Jordan had been giving senior Rulon Davis a run for his money at the position, as Jordan started opposite Tyson Alualu against the Terrapins. Gregory debunked that notion by attributing Jordan's start to the fact that Davis has been banged up, seeing sporadic reps in practice.

Davis donned a red practice jersey and sat out today's session in its entirety, which allowed some of the younger reserves like Ernest Owusu and Keith Browner to see more time with the second unit.

"I thought the other guys did fine," Gregory said.

Injuries piling up for Bears

Cal was without many other marquee names in drills, as numerous starters sustained injuries against Maryland.

Tailback Jahvid Best, who has a bruised sternum, was held out of live drills, while Shane Vereen sported a protective boot and sat out all of practice. Coach Jeff Tedford affirmed Vereen's high-ankle sprain is "similar" to the injury he suffered during fall camp.

Best, meanwhile, took most of the day off as a precautionary measure, according to Tedford.

"(Best) looked great," Tedford said. "He ran today. We didn't let him get hit today because he's still a little bit stiff, but he ran fine, ran hard, full-speed. We just don't want him to get hit right now and re-injure that thing."

Furthermore, wideout Michael Calvin will likely sit out all of this week's drills. The redshirt freshman was seen in a protective boot, and despite playing against the Terps, he may continue to sit until his toe is completely healed.

According to Tedford, that's been the plan all along.

"He's been playing, but it's still been a little bit sore, so we're just trying to get to where he's 100 percent and has no soreness, and the best way to do that is to rest," Tedford said.

Special teams unit leaves much to be desired

Tedford was seen fuming on the sidelines during certain special teams plays against Washington State on Sept. 6, and today the unit is still an area needing improvement.

The Bears managed a paltry 52 yards per kickoff against Maryland, which finished with an average of 62.5. Kicker Jordan Kay booted twice for a 49.5 average, while David Seawright nailed a 57-yarder in his lone attempt, only to see it roll out of bounds.

"We need to have better kicks, first of all," Tedford said. "Secondly, we need to be disciplined in staying in lanes. We got outflanked the other day. Somebody lost the ball, and we got outflanked. Picked the wrong shoulder to attack, and they hit us where we weren't."

Tedford likened the art of kickoffs to a golf swing. He said Seawright has the strength and physique to produce booming kicks, but attaining the proper technique remains on both kickers' to-do lists.


Contact Andrew Kim at [email protected]

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