Midweek Notebook: Week 1

Photo: Josh Hill is listed as a starting safety on the Cal football team's latest two-deep. The sophomore, who converted from cornerback, will be part of a four-man rotation that includes Sean Cattouse and Chris Conte.
Victoria Chow/File
Josh Hill is listed as a starting safety on the Cal football team's latest two-deep. The sophomore, who converted from cornerback, will be part of a four-man rotation that includes Sean Cattouse and Chris Conte.

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Perhaps one of the biggest changes to this year's Cal football practices - from the players' perspective, at least - has been the shift to early morning practices. Rather than running onto the field in the afternoon or evening, the team has to wake up every day by 6 a.m., and stumble up to Strawberry Canyon at around 6:45 or 7.

Having had early wake-up calls all through fall camp, the Bears haven't had too hard of a time adjusting to hiking up the sunrise-backed hills.

"I think for the most part we're doing good," linebacker Mike Mohamed said yesterday. "There's definitely some sleepy eyes in some of the morning meetings. This morning, coach (Kenwick) Thompson, linebackers coach, he cranked up the music right before the meeting just to wake everybody up."

The senior standout admits that the team probably doesn't go to sleep as early as they should. Instead of hitting the sack by the ideal 10 p.m., players will more likely stay up past midnight, as many college students would.

Coach Jeff Tedford said the change was made in order to give the Bears more time during the day; when everything on the schedule is crammed into the night, the risk of burning out players rises.

It's not the only change he's made. In addition to the new, less intense attitude Tedford has tried to adapt, the coach has made more of an effort to see all aspects of the team as he enters his ninth season.

"He's actually sat through a couple of defensive meetings this year, which is something new, something I haven't seen in my four-plus years here," Mohamed said. "Like I said, he's just trying to be more of a head coach and be all around, not just the offensive-minded Jeff Tedford."

Those meetings have also undergone a major change, what with former NFL defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast taking up the reins. When the much-anticipated, aggressive schemes finally make their debut against UC Davis at Memorial Stadium this weekend, the team should have most of the kinks sorted out.

"During spring ball, it was tough to adjust to a new defense, but now, in the fall, I feel like we hit it running, just having that six months under our belt already," Mohamed said. "I think camp's gone pretty smoothly and we're ready to showcase it on Saturday."

One Last Go

With a more experienced line protecting him and a bolstered receving corps to throw to, Kevin Riley is primed for his best season yet. The senior has repeatedly emphasized the fact, as well as saying that he's more than ready to perhaps end his football career "with a bang."

"I love Kevin," Tedford said. "Kevin really has done a nice job. His growth and development as a person, as a player, as a leader, is awesome ... He's had the best camp I've ever seen him have here and I think he's going into the season very confident.

"He's not going to be perfect. No quarterback is perfect, but he's doing a great job and I have a lot of trust in him, a lot of confidence in him."

The Pac-10's active leader in touchdown passes and wins won't silence any doubters this weekend, though. The Aggies won the Great West Conference a year ago, but they only moved into the FCS, formerly known as Division I-AA, in 2003.

Extra Hits

-Sophomore Matt Summers-Gavin won't start against UC Davis this Saturday, but took reps in practice and may be in the rotation. He is still projected to slide in at right tackle. Donovan Edwards is listed as the backup.

-Michael Calvin has moved ahead of JUCO transfer Coleman Edmond for the backup X receiver spot. The athletic junior has been bogged down by injuries throughout his career, and had fallen down the depth chart during fall camp when he was out with an injured groin.

-Freshman linebacker David Wilkerson has been cleared by the NCAA to practice, but not yet for competition.

"We're in a tough situation because if he doesn't get cleared in time, how many reps do you give him through the week?" Tedford said. "We're acting like he is going to be cleared, so it's sometimes, the clearinghouse is so cluttered and crowded, it could be any day that we hear what's happening."


Jack Wang covers football. Contact him at [email protected]

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