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Cal Football Fall Practice #4: Running Back U

You know what's always going to be great about Cal football? Ron Gould. Ron Gould makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, because you know the Bears won't be unwatchable offensively as long as he's drilling five points of pressure into his tailbacks and producing 40 yard touchdown runs every now and then (not that the offense can't be fatally flawed every now and then, which is still plenty watchable if emotionally taxing).

Previous fall practice stories: Kodiak's camp preview | Practice #3 | Practice #2 | Practice #1

And after what was pretty much a rare off-year, at least for Ron Gould's standards (where the Bears still produced a 1,000 yard back), things look like they're back to business. We have a Maxwell Award candidate starting for us at tailback, and he's being challenged for the #1 position by a back-up who is realizing his potential. We have a spectacular gamebreaker who can produce when fully healthy, and another potential future starter lying in at the fourth string spot.

"Pretty special guys" as Tedford calls them. Gould is golden.

Tedford presser with more notes on the RBs + more after the jump.

Jeff Tedford continues to like what he sees out of C.J. Anderson and push for that number one spot.

Anderson is "pushing to be the No. 1 back," Tedford said, in part because of his adeptness as a pass blocker and receiver.

"Mentally, he’s really sharp, doesn’t make many mistakes," Tedford said. "All-around, he’s an excellent football player. He’s probably our most well-rounded back."

Anderson pass-blocking was a thing that he didn't really pick up as much as Sofele did last year, but if he's there that's huge for his playing time reps. Anderson's pass-catching potential was something that occasionally flashed to the surface, and if it's picking up at a reasonable rate that increases his versatility as a back. Sofele has only had a handful of catches the past few seasons, so Anderson completing those parts of his game is a big plus to his future PT.

Tedford mentioning Anderson and Sofele both being in the backfield at the same time makes me think we could see situations where we force front sevens to guard against flares to the backfield, or maybe some inside draw plays, and maybe more advanced variants of the zone read. Can't wait to see what the Bears come up with offensively.

There were complimentary words for Brendan Bigelow and Daniel Lasco, although I'd imagine carries would not be easy to come by with Sofele and Anderson likely on the top of the running chain. did a feature on the two running backs.

"We're always going to be competitive out there," Sofele said. "Off the field, we're best friends. On the field, we're out there fighting for the top spot. We really love competing against each other. The more we compete, the better we both get, which helps the team get to where we want to go.

"I love being part of a tandem, knowing that you have help out there," Sofele added. "It would be nice to be a one-man workhorse, but it's hard to take over a whole game by yourself. You always need help. It's a great thing to have C.J."

Anderson agrees with Sofele, especially after learning first-hand in junior college how important it is to always keep your stamina up during a game.

"I was always told when I was at the junior college level that you want to be fresh," said Anderson, who played for two seasons at Laney College in Oakland before transferring to Cal. "You never want to take a carry when you're tired. As much as we're both in great shape, we're both going to have some times when we're winded."

More notes.

1st unit: Tipoti-Payne-Barr
2nd unit: Lopa-Moala-Jalil
3rd unit: Lopa-King-Jalil

So Aaron Tipoti is seeing a lot of action at end, and I'd guess he'd be our super sub who can play multiple spots. With Payne seemingly solidifying the nose guard spot, we'll probably see Tipoti occasionally flash inside as part of 4-3 packages to allow Coleman and Jalil to slide in. I'd guess Tipoti would start, then either Coleman or Jalil will be anchored on the other side.

To those wondering if Barr leapfrogged Jalil, Mustafa had academics and was late to practice, and probably just took whatever reps were left over. Tedford liked what Barr had to offer, so I'd guess he's a rotation player if he can get the chance to see the field.

  • Jason Gibson out means our two deep is probably set at ILB: Mullins, Forbes, Hurrell, Wilkerson in some order. Where Fortt fits into the equation remains to be seen, but he will definitely play if he's cleared, so take your pick as to whether he goes inside or outside.
  • Jeffrey Coprich broke his jaw. He'll be out for a few weeks of fall camp. Blueshirt candidate regardless.
  • Stefan McClure isn't ready and is starting to look like he'll blueshirt. The three corner rotation of Marc Anthony, Steve Williams and Kameron Jackson might be a bit dicey depth-wise if anyone gets hurt; it looks like only walk-on (?) Isaac Lapite is behind them, and he has yet to see game action. Could this be a spot where we see youngsters like Joel Willis and Willie Fletcher see the field early?