Fall Camp 2010: Day 5

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When pads finally came on Wednesday for the first time in this fall, so too started what Cal football coach Jeff Tedford called "real football." Real as in full-on contact, as in no-holds-barred hits.

And if you're talking hits, not too many dole them out better than safety Sean Cattouse.

In last September's game at Minnesota, he YouTubed Golden Gopher receiver Eric Decker with a hit that left the now-Denver Bronco struggling to get off the ground.

The moment was one of the most memorable last season for a Cal secondary that ranked 111th nationally in pass defense, stumbling far short of its preseason expectations.

The Bears have brought in new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, whose schemes have -- perhaps too often, by now -- been described as "aggressive." While the front seven will be given the most dramatic makeover, the defensive backs look to benefit as well.

"It really gave us a clean slate, this new defense," Cattouse said.

Cattouse, who along with senior Chris Conte are expected to start as safeties, described the new coverage schemes as "more complex," filled with more movement, disguising and blitzing. They'll hope it makes up for losing three starting defensive backs, including All-Pac-10 cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson.

Conte also must transition from being the reserve corner he's been most of his college career.

"It's been easy," he said of the move. "There's a lot more you have to know. There's a lot more on the mental side, but i think football-wise it's a lot easier. The game slows down for you a lot. It allows you to be more of a football player. I like it a lot more. It's more of a natural fit for me, so I'm enjoying it."

As for facing the top-flight passing games of the Pac-10, they insist they're not worried.

"I'm not even thinking (about them)," Cattouse said. " I"m just ready to go ball and whoever we got, we got. I don't even know who's supposed to be who. I could care less."

Added Conte: "Man, I don't think anybody's ready for us, really. Nobody's talking about us."

Run It, Run It

Backup running back at Cal have traditionally been groomed for a future starting role. The Bears streak seven straight 1,000-yard rushers was no accident, and would likely have continued had Jahvid Best not been injured -- or if Shane Vereen started an extra game.

And while one tailback hasn't laid claim on the No. 2 spot yet, Tedford has pointed to two in the backfield corps as having stepped ahead of the pack: sophomore Isi Sofele and redshirt freshman Dasarte Yarnway.

"Right now, if we had to pick, those would be the guys that would be there," he said.

While the two may make an odd couple -- the 5-foot-7 Sofele weighs in at 186 pounds, while Yarnway measures an even 6-feet and 225 pounds -- they could be crucial to spelling Vereen's workload this fall.

"You could use the cliche thunder and lightning, but I dunno," Yarnway said. "Isi's a really quick guy. He understands the game to a T and he's really aggressive. As for me, I just work on being as complete as I can be -- catching the ball in the backfield, running routes, or going between the tackles, being able to bend the corner and take it outside.

"It's a real nice combination."

Quick Hits

--Bryan Anger, arguably one of the best punters in the country, was sailing his customary 60-yard bombs early on in practice. Still, he wasn't named to the initial preseason Ray Guy Award watch list. Look for the junior to be added later on.

--Vereen, to little surprise, rested his hamstring for another day. While he did catch a few balls while pedaling the exercise bike, his legs will certainly be saved up as much as possible for the regular-season grind. The then-sophomore was barely able to walk a day after his 42-carry performance in last year's Big Game.

--The weather in Memorial Stadium often dips below that experience in the rest of Berkeley, springing up unpleasantly on those foolish enough to underdress. Cattouse, a Chicago native, didn't mind much: "Yeah, no sleeves for me. I'm used to way colder. Way colder."


Contact Jack Wang at [email protected]

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