Early Report

Less than five months away from the first snap of the 2011 season, the Cal football team tries to maximize spring practice.

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Evan Walbridge/Senior Staff



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Quarterback:

Next week, the Cal football team will hold its last open spring practice at San Ramon Valley High, the stomping grounds of 2012 quarterback recruit Zach Kline.

Judging from how spring practice is going, he may not even be too far off from competing for time.

A week ago, coach Jeff Tedford narrowed down the quarterback competition to senior Brock Mansion, junior transfer Zach Maynard and freshman Allan Bridgford. Since then, they've taken turns rotating in and out of the top spot.

Mansion is the only one with any sort of on-field experience, but his performance in Saturday's practice at Valley Christian High in San Jose didn't do much to distinguish him from the pack.

Maynard - who arrived at Cal with his brother Keenan Allen after playing two years at Buffalo - had impressed Tedford throughout the week, but like the rest of the offense, sputtered. He threw two interceptions Saturday, forcing one and getting sacked on another, and said his mechanics were rusty.

That left Allan Bridgford to shine - however relatively - at the halfway point of the Bears' spring practices. Although he didn't get many first-team reps, the oft-injured sophomore tossed a pair of touchdowns on 6-of-10 passing during the scrimmage portion.

-Jack Wang

Running Back:

Two weeks have passed since Cal's first full practice in pads, and the running back situation has yet to get any clearer. Isi Sofele still stands as the No. 1 back. The coaching staff said it is fully aware of his capabilities after he backed up Shane Vereen last year.

Mike Manuel had a rough day at Saturday's practice, coughing up the ball after a big hit. Nonetheless, the junior transfer continues to impress Tedford, who called him a "real pleasant surprise."

Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson has tweaked his ankle and is still a step slow, but has lost 10 pounds by self-report. He told BearInsider.com that he has another five pounds or so to shed.

"There was an open hole and I couldn't get to it and I felt like crying," DeBoskie-Johnson said. "Back in the day I could have gotten to that hole, so I made a promise that after every practice, I'll be doing gassers. I've got to get that back."

He had some nice short runs, including two touchdowns during Saturday's practice, but Tedford said his ability to compete will depend on his competition, which includes freshman Darren Ervin, who is nursing a sprained ankle.

The running back situation only gets murkier when considering touted recruits in Daniel Lasco and Brendan Bigelow.

"Those guys are really good players," Tedford said. "So we're going to depend on some of the young guys, like we did when Jahvid (Best) was a freshman, when Marshawn (Lynch) was a freshman."

-Christina Jones

Defense:

Tedford admitted that the defense outplayed the offense at Saturday's practice. That may have been a bit of an understatement.

By the end of practice, the defense had intercepted two passes and recovered two fumbles, including a 39-yard return for a touchdown from junior defensive back Tyre Ellison. The unit also finished with five sacks, a number that would have been a lot higher if not for the limited contact on the quarterbacks.

After losing star linebacker Mike Mohamed, who garnered All-Pac-10 honors the past three seasons, to graduation, two freshmen look to fill that void. Lucas King had one sack in another standout practice after recording two more sacks and a fumble recovery in the squad's April 2 practice.

"Gabe has done some good things," Tedford said. "He's getting better everyday. I think he's a strong competitor."

Three sacks came from Cecil Whiteside. The second string offensive tackles could not stop 6-foot-3, 229-pound freshman.

Marc Anthony grabbed an errant pass for an interception during practice. The junior cornerback will have to play a bigger role this season after the loss of senior defensive backs Darian Hagan and Chris Conte, who is projected to be selected in the NFL draft.

"(He) had a forced ball today that he picked off," Tedford said. "Drove real nice on a wide screen ... You expect him to make that play when he wasn't blocked."

-Jonathan Kuperberg

Tags: MYCHAL KENDRICKS, JEFF TEDFORD, BROCK MANSION, ISI SOFELE, CAL FOOTBALL






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