Maynard’s accuracy, comfort level improving in camp

Defensive linemen Gabe King (99), Viliami Moala (55) and Keni Kaufusi (56) participate in drills at Fall Camp. The season starts on Sep. 3 against Fresno State.
Derek Remsburg/Staff
Defensive linemen Gabe King (99), Viliami Moala (55) and Keni Kaufusi (56) participate in drills at Fall Camp. The season starts on Sep. 3 against Fresno State.

Remember football season? No one blames if you don’t; many fans likely aren’t eager to relive Cal’s first losing season under Jeff Tedford. But believe it or not, the Bears are two days away from wrapping up fall camp, ready and willing to rebound in their one season away from Memorial Stadium.

The coaching staff won’t start game-planning and sorting out the official depth chart until Wednesday or so; here’s a run down of how the team will probably look, along with a few extra tidbits from fall camp.

Maynard Easing into QB1

Junior Zach Maynard locked down the starting quarterback spot after just 15 spring practice sessions, which may have as much do with his competition as his own abilities. Maynard, who transferred from Buffalo after coach Turner Gill left for Kansas, is arguably the most mobile player that Tedford has lined under center, but he also hasn’t played a football game in over a year. In addition, he’ll have to adjust to playing in the Pac-12 after spending a full season in the MAC.

Tedford says that over the last two weeks, Maynard has appeared increasingly comfortable controlling the offense.

“He’s very accurate throwing the ball,” Tedford said. “He throws all the balls really well. He can throw the deep ball, he can throw the comebacks on a line, he’s got touch for the intermediate stuff, so he’s got all the balls.”

What could help him is the presence of half-brother Keenan Allen, who grew up with Maynard and played high school ball with him. Allen is a potential superstar at wideout, and could team with senior Marvin Jones to form one of the top receiving duos in the conference.

Senior Brock Mansion and junior Allan Bridgford backed up Maynard through camp. Tedford said he hasn’t decided who will take the No. 2 spot, but the latter is probably a smart bet.

Sofele Leading Tailbacks

As expected, Isi Sofele will enter the season as Cal’s No. 1 running back after playing behind Shane Vereen a year ago. Although he only racked up 338 yards on 69 carries, the 5-foot-8 junior returns as the Bears’ most experienced rusher.

“I feel pretty confident going in there,” Sofele said. “I feel like I’ve prepared myself my whole life for this moment … I feel like I have a lot to prove.”

Sofele isn’t at the same level as predecessors Shane Vereen and Jahvid Best, but position coach Ron Gould will likely find a way to utilize his talents well. Junior Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson appears to have the No. 2 spot locked down, which gives Cal a sturdy complement to its diminutive lead back.

Blasquez Reshapes Workouts

There was a low-key change in the staff this past offseason: Mike Blasquez, who has worked as a Cal strength and conditioning coach for the past eight years, began working primarily with the football team.

Blasquez replaced John Krasinski, who spent nine seasons with the program, and has received rave reviews from nearly every player. Many praise his ability to promote a team environment — players have been sporting his “Team Matters” mantra on shirts — and improving the players’ mindsets during workouts. Even NFL draftees such as defensive end Cameron Jordan sang his praises when they worked with him last spring.

Before coming to Cal, Blasquez worked at prep football powerhouse De La Salle in Concord, Calif., where he helped them to 138 of their national-record 151 consecutive wins from 1992-2004.

“He really is a fantastic coach,” said junior right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin, who attended St. Ignatius in San Francisco.  “I’m not surprised they didn’t lose any games with him running them.”

Grudge Match

Steve Williams didn’t have to think twice before naming his most anticipated matchup this season.

“Robert Woods. USC.”

The sophomore cornerback’s pick isn’t all that surprising. A year ago, USC took a wrecking ball to the Bears with a 48-14 win in Los Angeles. Robert Woods was a big reason why.

If you don’t remember, that was the game in which Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley tied his school’s single-game record with five touchdown passes — and he did it in the first half. Woods, then a true freshman, was on the receiving end of two of those scores, burning the Cal secondary for 116 yards.

Williams is a full-time starter this year after starting three games in 2010, and he’ll have his shot at redemption on Oct. 13 with the game broadcast on ESPN.

Note: In the event that the San Francisco Giants make the NLCS without home field advantage, the Bears will have to move the USC game away from AT&T Park. Considering that the Giants barely scratched out one win against the Houston Astros this past weekend, Cal fans probably won’t have to change their travel plans.

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  • Sash

    I’m a bit disappointed with the way Tedford has been running the football practices. Cal team is very young and would have benefited from extra practice. Instead Tedford gave them multiple days off. Why would you give days off to the players, specially this year when they didn’t have the luxury of an additional month of practice because they didn’t go to a bowl game in 2010.  Cal players are always amongst  the least conditioned players in the league. Hard work is a concept that unfortunately coach Tedford  does not believe in, nor does he practice it. I just hope that  Dailycal writers don’t give Tedford a free pass on this issue.

    Go Bears

    • “Free pass”?? For 5+ years Tedford has phoned it in and he’s had nothing BUT free passes to go with his ginormous paycheck.

      His teams perpetually quit on him, he loses games he should win and almost never wins games he should lose and, year after year, Cal is one of the least prepared of teams in the Pac. Yet, there Tedford remains.

      Think this year is gonna be any different? A team with a completely inexperienced D1 QB? A team with a completely inexperienced running game? A team replacing an army of experience on defense? A team with a head coach who has taken in 3 consecutive stellar QB’s and spit out 3 broken QB’s who got progressively worse the longer they remained under Tedford?

      No. Think basketball. Think rugby. Hell, think competitive tiddlewinks but do not think football. At least, not with any thoughts of  expectation for this year. Tedford will finish last in the division this year, behind even Wasu, and folks will continue to apologize for him and nothing will change…this year, next year, or the year after; just a steady stream of losses.

      It is time for Tedford to go but he’s proven himself to be virtually unhireable elsewhere so, basically, we’re gonna have to keep him around until his contract is over because we’ve got no money for a replacement.

      And Tedford knows it. So Tedford is just phoning it in…milking the cash cow for all its worth…until his contract ends and he can retire. If Tedford had an ounce of self-respect…if Tedford bore ANY semblance to a man…he would quit. But he hasn’t and he doesn’t and he won’t.

      • Anonymous

        Like you say Tedford has been very quick to pass the buck. This is a do or die year for Tedford. He has avery good coaching staff this year. Gregory was a dud at defensive coordinator and then came Andy Ludwig who had a nice resume but for some reason when he came to Cal he fizzled. Tedford has finally taken the reins again and says he will call the plays and will be in charge of the QB. Any mediocre QB should be able to do well with the receivers Cal has. That plus a defense that may be better than last years squad, and a coordinator that is more familiar with the Pac-12 and does a good job in coaching the defense. 

        I do not want to hear Tedford at any time during the season complain about playing at AT&T. I do not want to hear him say Maynard is new to Tedfords special offense ( an offense no one seems to understand except Tedford). It is Tedfords job to prepare his team for each game. Maybe that explains why Cal has been horrendous on the road. To his only credit, Tedford has been to a bunch of sub par Bowl Games, they weren’t invited to a bowl last year and probably shouldn’t have been invited to one the year before that.

  • Anonymous

    I keep hearing great things coming out of camp. The first true test will be when Cal has to face Fresno. This will be the first time in a half a decade that Cal must go into the season not depending on their running game, having Stevens hurt and out for the season will mean that Fullbacks  Kapp and Tyndall will have to step up as will each running back that gets a chance to carry the ball. Yes Allan and Jones may be the best pair of wideouts in the Pac-12, but how are the TE’s doing? Not much talk about their progress or if they are even going to be a part of the air game. I have also heard the DB coach talk about how talented the secondary is, we shall see what happens when they go up against 2 of the top ten QB’s in the nation.

  • Anonymous

    Gee Jack- taking cheap shots at the Giants. 

    • Anonymous

      Not cheap at all. That team is all hype and no balls.

    • Anonymous

      I wouldn’t say it’s a cheap shot.  The Astros are probably a good AAA team right now.   Good teams have to sweep them.