Joyous cheers erupted at the end of Cal’s Saturday morning workout. A later afternoon practice in shells was cancelled, giving the players — with Sunday already off — a free rest of the weekend.
“Great work, great work today,” Jeff Tedford said of the day’s session. “Very physical, energetic … they came out charged, ready to go.”
Still, that enthusiasm didn’t quite translate into impressive performances.
While most players were clearing out, the running backs stayed behind for an extra few minutes in running game coordinator Ron Gould’s dog house. The reason? To practice extra ball security drills. According to Gould, fumbling was a problem for many of the backs on Saturday; in one sequence, junior transfer C.J. Anderson broke out a big run down the left sideline, only to cough up the ball on the very next play.
“Well, today we were awful,” Gould said. “The guys had been doing a great job, we were progressing, making improvements every single day but today we took a back seat … We got to concentrate.”
Tedford did mention that junior running back Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson has started to make a strong push for the team’s back-up spot behind Isi Sofele. Out of shape in spring practice, DeBoskie-Johnson — who backed up Shane Vereen in 2009 following Jahvid Best’s season-ending injury– has trimmed down during the fall.
Tedford highlighted a recent goal line play where DeBoskie-Johnson was one-on-one against linebacker Mychal Kendricks and “ran right through him” after putting the pads down.
Talking about his tailback’s rising stock, Gould commended DeBoskie-Johnson’s “vastly improved” pass protection.
“That’s one of the things I told him he needed to do if was going to play for me,” Gould said. “He’s done a fairly good job at picking up those blitzers, understanding the protections — he’s a very smart guy.”
— Left tackle Mitchell Schwartz was finally competing and participating in full on Saturday. He had been slowed by a nagging hamstring. Meanwhile, linebacker Jason Gibson has returned from his ankle sprain.
— A reporter asked Tedford if he would ever want to observe practice from the high-rising construction cranes around Memorial Stadium. The head coach’s response (after a chuckle): “No way. No way.”
— With the second Saturday session cancelled, Monday marks the team’s first two-a-day practice. The team will do some dress rehearsals for its playing experience in San Francisco — the Bears will have practice at AT&T Park on Tuesday and the first of two August sessions at Evans Diamond the following day. Their very last practice is set for Candlestick Park, the site of 2011’s opener against Fresno State.