Fall Camp Notebook: Day Ten

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The Cal football team continued Sunday to ratchet up the realism of its situational drills in preparation for its first scrimmage of fall camp on Tuesday.

Coach Jeff Tedford brought officials out for the second day in a row and the Bears finished their 11th practice in 10 days with three situational team sequences: one with the offense starting on its own 33-yard line, one at the goal line and a two-minute (in this case 90-second) drill with the offense starting from its own 40. Quarterback Kevin Riley ran with the first-team offense in all three drills -- as he has done for the majority of fall camp -- while Brock Mansion quarterbacked the second team.

Mansion had a good practice highlighted by a nearly flawless touchdown drive on the final sequence -- getting some help from a 15-yard defensive penalty on a third down. The sophomore completed all six of his passes on the drive, including two to redshirt freshman receiver Ross Bostock and two to tight end Skylar Curran, and capped it with a sharp touchdown pass on a slant to tight end Tad Smith.

Mansion was on point during the earlier sequences and 7-on-7's as well. He threw consecutive touchdown passes to Curran and Jeremy Ross during skeleton offense and made possibly his best throw during the goal line exercise. He put a ball right in the crook of tight end Jarrett Sparks' right arm for a touchdown from about five yards out as Sparks was fighting off a linebacker with his left arm.

Riley struggled in the final hurry-up drill after being sacked by linebacker Jarred Price on the opening play. He completed a one-yard pass to Anthony Miller (cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson made a nice tackle to keep Miller in bounds), scrambled for eight yards and then overthrew a well-defended Miller on a wheel route on fourth down. Aside from that drive, Riley did not have a lot of opportunities to throw the ball during team sessions, although he did connect with Shane Vereen for a touchdown during the goal line set.

Tedford said after practice that the naming of a starting quarterback could happen "anytime" and not necessarily as late as the Wednesday a week and a half before the Maryland game -- the date by which he has said the depth chart will likely be finalized for the season opener. Tedford also said that Tuesday's scrimmage will not have a "great deal" of influence over his decision.

"The scrimmage is just another time -- anytime you can put them on the field by themselves and see how they react and respond is a major part of the evaluation process," he said.

Vereen took most of the first-team reps at tailback with Jahvid Best taking another rest day to try to nurse a sore toe back to health. Best is getting cardiovascular work in off the field, but he has not participated in a full practice since Wednesday.

"He cuts so hard that when he's got a sore toe it hinders him quite a bit," Tedford said. "He could get through it, but then when we get to game week he can't have the same sore toe.

"He practiced probably three days with that sore toe, but it just doesn't heal when he's cutting on it."

Best is day-to-day and it has not been decided if he will participate in Tuesday's scrimmage.

Worth the Price

Jarred Price got several chances to show his quickness off the edge Sunday afternoon and didn't pass them up, sacking both Riley and Mansion during team sessions.

In his first fall camp with the Bears, the junior transfer from Blinn College has worked primarily with the second and third teams at weakside outside linebacker -- the position vacated by Zack Follett -- although he did play with the ones against the two-minute offense. A defensive end in junior college, where he played in a 4-3 scheme, Price is adjusting to a new role with new responsibilities.

"(At Blinn), our linebackers had to play the run for the most part," he said. "Here in the 3-4, it's like either you're going to play the run, pass drop or rush the quarterback. It's more versatile in the 3-4. I like the 3-4 better."

One play after getting to Mansion during the first team session, Price beat Chet Teofilo off the end again, forcing Mansion to leave the pocket and force a shovel pass to receiver Jeremy Ross. Earlier in practice, during one-on-one blocking drills between the running backs and linebackers, Price showcased a neat spin-move to shed tailback Ryan Davis and -- again -- reach the quarterback.

Senior Devin Bishop has spent most of camp at weakside backer with the first team, but Price appears to have the speed to wreak havoc in the backfield on passing downs -- like Follett did a year ago.

"Most people say Zack was one of the most explosive linebackers to come through Cal," Price said. "They're saying Worrell (Williams) was the smartest and Tony (Felder) was the toughest. Honestly, I feel like the linebackers that we have now, we can do the same thing they did. I never take nothing away from them -- they were great players and still are. I feel like we have a lot to catch up on, but we'll be there before the season starts."

Injury Updates

Safety Marcus Ezeff, who had to be helped off the field Saturday morning and wore a protective boot on his right foot later in the afternoon, just has a mild sprained ankle, Tedford said. He was still wearing the boot on Sunday, but he should return to practice in a few days. Fellow defensive backs Sean Cattouse and Josh Hill both returned to normal practice Sunday after missing a couple sessions with a pulled hamstring and an ankle sprain, respectively. When the first-team defense lined up in the nickel package, Hill played corner.

Receiver Alex Lagemann was absent from practice due to illness. Linebacker Ryan Davis was sidelined with a cracked tooth.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks and receiver Nyan Boateng -- both recovering from concussions -- donned yellow jerseys but still participated in most of the drills and looked like they were moving pretty naturally.Boateng laid out for a low pass during one-on-one's and Kendricks jumped in the air to deflect a pass during 7-on-7's.

Quick Hits

-- Freshman Dasarte Yarnway split the first-team carries with Vereen.

-- Punting with the ball on the opposing 47-yard-line, Bryan Anger landed his last of three reps right on the 1-yard line. It was caught by gunner D.J. Campbell.

-- Vereen scored on a handoff around left end during the goal line exercise, freed up by what looked like a pancake by fullback Brian Holley. Holley, though, was whistled by officials for holding and the touchdown was negated. On the next play, linebacker Mike Mohamed stuffed Yarnway at the line of scrimmage and came out of the pile fired up.

-- Skylar Curran took the majority of the first-team reps at tight end, two days after Tedford called his progress in camp a pleasant surprise.

-- Backup running back Peter Geurts has quit the team.


Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected] For further coverage of Cal football, visit The Daily Cal's new football blog at blog.dailycal.org/football.

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