California Bears Spring Practice
Begins - Thursday, March 11
Ends - Saturday, April 24
The Bears opens the 2010 Spring Practice with some injury issues -
Shane Vereen - torn meniscus, shoulder, ribs (limited)
Mychal Kendricks - shoulder (out)
Michael Calvin - knee (probable)
Vereen's injuries are more worrisome. He gave his all after Jahvid went down. Opposing coaches this season will be scheming against Shane the same way they prepped against Jahvid. If we are going to be competitive in the Pac-10 we are going to need Vereen's grit and emotion.
After the jump, we'll look at the issues the Bears will be addressing starting tomorrow.
We are ready to join Handsome Men's Club and win Ali Fedotowsky's love.
Tedford opened up the starting quarterback competition for 2010 early on. Once again, Brock Mansion and Beau Sweeney will try to win the job over Kevin Riley. JO thinks Mansion has a shot (LINK). I think Sweeney has a better chance to break through. The Brock Mansion Party Yacht may have sailed after Sweeney overtook Mansion last year on the depth chart. Riley though will most likely retain his starting QB status. You have to wonder whether the QB competition is Tedford's motivational technique to keep Riley focused. Too many times have we seen Riley throw passes that sail right over the receiver's head. The bottom line is that Kevin needs to improve his accuracy and make the opposing defenses respect the passing game in order to take the pressure off Vereen.
Two more questions should be resolved in the backfield this Spring - who will spell relief for Vereen, and who will replace Brian Holley at Fullback. Debo flashed some of his ability to go north-south and carry tacklers with him. The only greenshirt from the 2010 class - Trajuan Briggs - is ready after losing his HS Senior season to an ankle injury. So is Dasarte Yarnway who redshirted due to a torn tendon in his foot. Isi Sofele will probably become a bigger part of the offense because of his speed and versatility. I'd look for him to make some noise this spring. Will Kapp and John Tyndall are the leading candidates to do the dirty work in front of Vereen. It'd be great to see Will on Saturdays to keep the Kapp legacy alive at Cal.
Uncle Ted seems to think that the offensive line is going to be a strength for the Bears in 2010 (LINK) in spite of some atrocious pass protection in 2009. As well as we all know, the offensive line performs as an unit and there will be some reshuffling this Spring. Donovan Edwards is the favorite to take over Mike Tepper's vacant Left Tackle spot. I would look to Mitchell Schwartz if Edwards can't get the job done. Dominic Galas, Brian Schwenke, and Mark Brazinski should all be in the rotation on the line this year. We'll see if Brazinski can win the Center position outright and if Justin Cheadle comes back to start at Right Guard after being named the most improved player on the offensive line. The rotation of Guarnero, Galas, and Schwenke offers additional assurances (LINK) in case Matt Summers-Gavin gets injured.
The Tight End position is just as deep as the running backs with Anthony Miller, Spencer Ladner, Jarrett Sparks, and Solomona Aigamaua (LINK). The news of Charles Satchell switching to Safety leaves Cal with Marvin Jones, Jeremy Ross, Alex Lagermann, and Michael Calvin as the most experienced wideouts this Spring. Spencer Hagan is going to get his chance in the spotlight before Keenan Allen, Tevin Carter, Terrance Montgomery, Kaelin Clay, and Coleman Edmond arrive on campus.
The WildBear opened as the surprise of 2009 but fizzled imo since Best/Vereen got the carry 99.95% of the time. It has become an effective recruiting tool though. Darren Ervin, the first Golden Recruit to commit for the 2011 class, plays both running back and quarterback in high school. Tedford immediately thought of using Ervin in the WildBear as a passing threat. Zach Maynard in the 2010 class should also be a threat to pass out of the WildBear. Both Maynard and Ervin are not going to be available for 2010. Perhaps Tedford & Co could work on getting Isi more carries on the fly this Spring. That'll add more unpredictability to confound opposing defenses, especially in goal line situations.
The biggest question this Spring on defense is the new Coordinator Clancy Pendergast from the NFL.
My mission is to bring sexy aggression back (via assets.sbnation.com)
Coach Pendergast is already making an impression on recruiting -
Another coach [Rob] Hankins [linebacker from Dallas, TX] had a chance to spend time with was new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, recently hired from the Oakland Raiders after having spent the last six seasons as a defensive coordinator in the NFL at Arizona and Kansas City, including leading the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008 with an aggressive, turnover-inducing defense.
"We got a chance to talk about the defense," said Hankins, "and all the new stuff he's bringing in and how they're going to make it one of the most dominant defenses in the nation. It sounds real fun and real interesting and I feel like I want to be a part of that. He had a lot of years in the NFL." - BearInsider.com
"I've just really been looking at not so much what's been done in the past," said Pendergast, "but just identifying and evaluating the personnel that's on the team right now and what their strengths and weaknesses are from an ability standpoint and how we and our staff can best utilize their ablilities.
"From what I've seen so far, it's a group that's hungry. They work extremely hard in the weight room. They work hard at the conditioning aspect of football and they like to play the game. From that standpoint, going into spring, I have a pretty decent idea of things but I'll have a lot better feel when spring's over."
"We're going to look at our guys and see how they fit," said Pendergast. "We're going to be multiple with what we do so I don't want to be pigeonholed into having a certain philosophy or a certain style, just based on scheme.
"With the multiple personnel groups you have, you're going to want to have a little bit of both (3-4 and 4-3 defenses)," said Pendergast. "Against a 2-back offense, you're geared towards a certain element of the 3-4 vs. the 3 wide receiver, one back sets, you'll have to have a little bit more of a 4-3 flavor and you have to be able to handle the adjustments. It really just depends on what you see from the offense." - BearInsider.com
Tedford has already stated that he expects the Bears defense to get more aggressive in 2010. Coach Pendergast is setting the bar even higher. Can Coach Pendergast recreate his Super Bowl magic at Memorial Stadium?
Luckily, the cupboard for Coach Pendergast is not bereft of talent. The new linebackers coming in - Chris Martin, Cecil Whiteside, Nick Forbes, and David Wilkerson - should make his life a whole lot easier. All Pac-10 MikMo returns to lead the defense (LINK). Cameron Jordan and Derrick Hill, barring any injuries, will join him to anchor the line upfront. Kendrick's injury makes the rest of the starting spots up for grabs. Ernest Owusu, Trevor Guyton, Deandre Coleman, Keith Browner, DJ Holt and Chris Little will all get their looks this Spring to stand out.
Spring is the time to rejuvenate, resurrect, and reinvent the Gold Rush
Little really jumped out at me during the 'Zona game. He disrupted 'Zona's spread and consistently harassed Foles w/ Jordan and Alualu. Hopefully Little will take advantage of the opportunity this Spring to assert himself on D.
I am Sean Cattouse. My speciality is putting people in the Hurt Locker.
In the secondary, Sean Cattouse is the only heavy hitting certainty. Wikipedia has some real-life g-force reference points for us to compare Cattouse's hit on Eric Decker -
Formula One car, maximum under heavy braking 5 g
Luge, maximum expected at the Whistler Sliding Center 5.2 g
Standard, full aerobatics certified glider +7/-5 g
Apollo 16 on reentry 7.19 g
Typical max. turn in an aerobatic plane or fighter jet 9-12 g
[Sean Cattouse hit on Eric Decker 10.78 g]
Maximum for human on a rocket sled 46.2 g
Chris Conte, Chris Moncrease, Charles Satchell, Alex Logan, and Vachel Samuels will compete to start next to Cattouse. Darian Hagan returns for his senior year looking to improve from a disappointing 2009. Bryant Nnabuife, Josh Hill, DJ Campbell, and the highly-touted Steve Williams from Dallas Skyline should make the cornerback competition interesting. Samuels was recruited as a cornerback but wants to get playing time in any way possible. I would look for Samuels to return to cornerback to provide more depth to the pass coverage team.
Another new addition to the Bears staff in 2010 is Coach Jeff Genyk, replacing Pete Alamar as the Special Teams/Tight Ends Coach.
From Coach Genyk -
"It's been interesting; a lot of players have come by and said, 'Hey coach, you have some new schemes for us this year?' My response is that it's not so much about the schemes but having the great effort, great attitude and acknowledging how important it is to you and the whole program that you give your all. It's all about effort, attitude and an understanding of the impact that special teams can make in the outcome of a football game.
"I think the specialists' performances demand so much consistency - the kickers, punters, snappers - because their performance is magnified because of the number of reps they take. If you're a starting linebacker, if you miss a play, you can bounce back and make a play in thirty seconds and all is forgetten. As a specialist, you can do some incredible things but if you make one mistake, you can impact a whole game and people will remember it all year.
"Consistency is developed by making sure that the players are put into pressure situations in practice, where the outcome of their actions somehow affect more than just them, but the team." - BearInsider.com
Neither Georgio Tevecchio nor Vince D'amato could CONSISTENTLY kickoff the ball behind the 5 yd line last season. David Seawright, my favorite Cal Bears Twitterer (LINK), will try to upstage Tevecchio and D'amato before Freshman walk-on Jed Barnett joins them for summer workouts (LINK). Bryan Anger is likely to have another Ray Guy Award watchlist performance. Syd's graduation opens up the punt returner position. Isi and J Ross should get their first crack at it starting tomorrow.
Mark April 17th on your calendar for Cal Day. Tedford opened up Spring Practice last year and gave the fans early glimpses of the team. Hopefully the weather will be just as nice this year and GO BEARS!