Saturday Golden Nuggets: Chocolate Sofele

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via www.dailycal.org

Berkelium97 will be back on the job on Monday. But for now, plenty of weekend news on Cal sports that we had to split this into Saturday and Sunday posts, including Kevin Riley's thoughts on Cignetti and Ludwig, and Aaron Rodgers's perfect preseason (literally). Also lots of news on the women's front, including a stunner on the volleyball court.

But we start with Cal's talent of the future, Isi Sofele. Based on the fact Tedford is comparing him to Darren Sproles, we might see plenty of him this season, and not just in a 'Best 2007' role.

"He's quick, elusive, he has really good ball skills and he's a really good special teams player," Tedford said. "You can put him in a lot of places. He's done a really nice job of comprehending the offense, about as good as anyone."

Despite rushing for 1,920 yards as a high school senior, Sofele has been working primarily with the receivers so far. But Tedford said he would consider using Sofele at running back as well.

"There have been a lot of guys like (Sproles)," Tedford said. "The thing about it is, he's small, but he's really strong. He really packs a punch. He can block; he's physical. That's what you worry about with a small guy. Is he physical enough? He's really physical."

Chris Nugon from Rivals describes what he's doing to improve his receiving skills.

 A full-time ball-carrier out of the backfield in high school, Sofele admitted it's been a steep learning curve adapting to life on the outside.

"I'm used to just getting the hand-off and taking off," Sofele said. "It's different coming out here catching 100 balls a day. It's hard to adjust to that. Whatever it is though I'm doing to do it."

Sofele had a tough time early in camp holding on to passes thrown from the Cal quarterbacks. Not only did Sofele had to adjust to running routes, but he also had to learn how to haul in fireballs thrown off the hands of Division-I quarterbacks.

To help with that adjustment, Sofele has spent almost everyday after practice catching tennis balls from an automatic dispensing machine.

"That machine helps a lot," Sofele said. "Balls come out 90 miles per hour. So I sit there and catch every ball."

Finally, Katie Dowd of the Daily Cal writes:

Sofele is quiet and serious when he's being interviewed. He cracks a smile only when talking about his youngest brother, who is just starting to play football competitively. He likes to talk about his family, not so much about himself. He doesn't acknowledge how much more work he has to do just because he got the short end of the stick gene-wise.

"It's been really different. I'm not used to catching so many balls," is all he says of the transition to wide receiver. "I'm used to just getting the handoff and taking off. But it's cool. I'm trying to go out and try something different and fit in with the rest of the guys."

Just when it seems Cal is about to lose a very special player, another one is ready to take his place. Looking back over the last decade with Tedford, recruiting these types of talent might be his most underrated attribute.

Cignetti and Riley struggled getting on the same page: This article has probably been linked before, but this particular quote elucidates why Kevin Riley might've struggled so much last season.

"They see so many things so similar," Riley said. "You don't have two different guys telling you two different things. Last year a couple of times, Coach Cignetti would tell me something and then Coach Tedford would tell me something different. (Ludwig's) kind of adapted some of the things that Cignetti brought in, but in his own way. And he's added his own stuff, too. He's definitely made an imprint."

The constant quarterback competition last season also hurt his confidence in his abilities.

Riley's ascension also hurt his ability to lead his team as well, with the older Longshore hanging over his shoulder.

"Last year, I felt like it was still open. I felt like if I didn't start out well, Nate could finish the game," Riley said. "Now I feel like I'm the guy and I'm ready to play. Nate was a senior last year and it was hard because I didn't want to bump heads with him. Definitely I feel like I'm one of the leaders of this team and that people look up to me."

Riley also admitted the competition affected his play on the field.

"Not only am I just a better player than I was but I thought about (the competition) too much," he explained. "You can't play that play (because) you are not going to be confident throwing the ball. Mistakes happen and coach knows that. I just have to go out there and improve and not let it happen again."

Aaron Rodgers's dress rehearsal? Perfecto: Assuming Rodgers doesn't play the final week of the preseason, here are his final stats: 27 for 38, 458 yards, 6 touchdowns, no interceptions, perfect passer rating.

He saved his best for what is essentially his dress rehearsal for the regular season. Here are the video highlights of Rodgers vs Arizona from NFL.com.

Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers dominated the Cardinals' starters in Green Bay's 44-37 victory over the defending NFC champions on Friday night. Rodgers threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns as the Packers opened a 38-10 halftime lead.

"That's about as good as we can play on offence," Rodgers said. "Talk about exciting. We've got a defence like that that can stop them and we get the ball back at the end. So many weapons, great play-calling, and it's just us on offence executing."

...

The Packers' No. 1 offence had four touchdowns and a field goal in their six first-half possessions as Green Bay (3-0) rolled up 357 yards. That gives the Packers' first-team offence nine TDs and a field goal in 12 possessions. The starters have not been forced to punt.

"I thought we were great tonight," Rodgers said. "Three games, no punts for the first team. Thirty-one points tonight. The line was great. I barely got touched."

To put it more succinctly, Rich Eisen tweeted:

[Dominique] Rodgers-Cromartie will see Aaron Rodgers in his sleep tonight.


 

Around SBN:

Other Cal sports

Calvolleyball09_medium

Image from Twitpic.

Cal volleyball falls...to the Anteaters??? Plus: Danzig is still a prophet. Pretty big shocker in Reno this weekend.

Cal took the first set like any top-10 team playing an unranked opponent ought to. The Bears hit .481 while holding the Anteaters to a .125 hitting percentage. But from there, things went downhill fast.

UC Irvine came roaring back behind outside hitters Juliane Piggott and Kari Pestolesi who combined for 37 kills in the match. As was often a problem for Cal last season, the front row failed to block consistently, allowing the Anteaters to jump ahead by logging lots and lots of kills. For the match, the Bears managed a woeful 6.5 blocks.

After tying the match at one-all, UC Irvine took that momentum into the third set and roared out to a 9-2 lead. Cal hurt its case further by making seven attacking errors and allowed the Anteaters to hit .346 in the set.

But after dropping the third set 25-19, the Bears launched a comeback. Cal secured a lead it would not relinquish in the set on senior middle blocker Mindi Wiley's service rotation. UC Irvine committed two attacking errors, and Wiley put the Bears ahead 18-14 on a service ace. Sophomore hitter Tarah Murrey clinched the set with a kill to force a tie-breaking fifth set.

Cal was helpless to stop the Anteaters' attack in the fifth, however, allowing UC Irvine to score 13 of their game-winning 15 points on kills. The remaining three points came from a service ace and two errors by the Bears.

Cal hit .265 for the match, and senior outside Hana Cutura led the team in kills, with 19.

This setback deals a serious blow to those believing Cal could improve upon last year's success. Credit to danzig though, he did see that this tournament would be more difficult than it looked on paper.

I’m a tad worried. This is one of the hardest out-of-conf tourneys there is. Although the AVCA doesn’t recognize them UCI and StMary’s show up in multiple other polls in the 20s. Ucon is no slouch either… they’re on the bubble. I think we drop at least one… most likely to UCI or Ucon. Although StMary’s is good, we got their number. We play them all the time and kill them each time. UCI is great this year and I’ve seen them ranked as high as #21 (some coaches voted UCI #1…wtf?)

Here’s last year’s records:
Cal: 26-7
UCI: 17-12
StMarys: 20-8
Ucon:21-11

I’m not pleased we’re starting out with such a hard tourney… and I fear we could drop one if we’re not focused. If we win this tourney we should be ranked #5 going into the Hawaii tourney…where we play Texas (#2) and Hawaii (#7). Yep. It’s a frickn muderer’s row. If we can get out of Sept with less than three losses and a win over the FUrd, I’ll be able to relax.

 

You can track the Cal volleyball team all season long on their Twitter feed.

More quick Bear claws.

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