Program vendors should do a brisk business at Cal football games this fall because coach Jeff Tedford estimates that at least five freshmen will get significant playing time, and the number may go as high as 10.
“Usually, it’s just two or three, or even just one,” Tedford said as summer practice wound down.
One who seems certain to get a lot of playing time is the man-mountain from Sacramento in the middle of the defensive line, Viliami Moala, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 350 pounds. Tedford has been impressed with defensive backs Kameron Jackson and Stefan McClure.
“They’ve brought a lot of energy to practice,” he said.
The last two recruiting classes have been good ones, and Tedford was especially pleased with the last one, coming after his only losing season at Cal.
“I didn’t know if kids would think we were going down or if they’d just look at this as a glitch in a good body of work,” he said.
Apparently, they took the second approach.
This has been a transitional period for Cal football, and not just on the field. Tedford had to deal with the tree-sitters, who brought to mind Herb Caen’s categorization of the city as “Beserkely.” He had to deal with the struggle to get the student activity center, which will be used by all sports, but is especially critical for football. Athletes from other sports will be using it before football, which will first use it in the spring, but it will now be a reality.
“We can show recruits an actual facility instead of just drawings,” Tedford said.
By the fall of 2012, he’ll be able to show them a completely remodeled Memorial Stadium — but this year, the Bears will be on the road. Their opener, against Fresno State, will be at Candlestick Park. The remaining home games will be at AT&T Park, which could be interesting should the Giants reach the postseason again.
To prepare his team for playing in a baseball facility, Tedford held one practice at AT&T and others at Evans Field on the Cal campus. One end zone at AT&T is only a few feet from the grandstand wall, which will have a pad on it. Tedford had his players run at the padded wall — “I went first,” he said — to assure them they wouldn’t injure themselves in a game.
Not exactly your usual football practice.
The Bears will be playing in an expanded conference, the Pac-12, and are playing in the North Division, which is considered the stronger one. Preseason predictions have Cal ahead of only Washington State.
Those predictions, though, are based on last season, and the Bears fell apart when quarterback Kevin Riley was knocked out for the season in the Oregon State game. Brock Mansion took over the rest of the way.
“We averaged 37 points a game with Riley, 13 points a game after that,” Tedford said. “You’re not going to win many games scoring 13 points.”
This year, Zach Maynard is the quarterback and he should be a big improvement.
Tedford is confident this team will erase the bad memories from last year, and I have more confidence in Tedford than in predictions from a national media which traditionally pays little attention to West Coast football.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.!doctype>
Playing at AT&T creates extra buzz
Playing in The City will take some getting used to. In what will be a season filled with changes, the most noticeable one for Cal will be moving across the Bay from Berkeley to play at the Giants’ AT&T Park while Memorial Stadium is renovated. The Bears will play their home games in the World Series champion Giants’ cozy waterfront ballpark, a one-year arrangement while their home field receives an extensive, $321 million renovation. They’ll also open the season Saturday against Fresno State at Candlestick Park.
While most of the seniors would prefer to finish in Berkeley, the venue has created an added buzz. Whether that translates into wins remains to be seen.
“As a Giants fan, I love the idea of playing there,” offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz said. “For me, it gives a little extra excitement to it. If nothing else, it should be a fun year because of that.”
The wide receiver made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2010, hauling in 46 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns. But after his debut in which he totaled 158 yards of offense and scored twice, Allen tailed off a bit. Cal will look for a more consistent season in 2011. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder has a rare combination of speed and size that should give defenses fits all year long.
After playing outside linebacker last season, the senior will fill the shoes of Mike Mohamed in the middle, this season. Kendricks is coming off a breakout junior campaign in which he recorded 8½ sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He also tied for first in the conference with three fumble recoveries. He is a first-team preseason All-Pac-12 Conference selection by several media outlets.
GAME TO WATCH
TROJANS COME TO TOWN: Despite being ineligible for postseason play once again in 2011, Southern Cal always is a big draw when it comes to the Bay Area, and this year is no exception. Coach Lane Kiffin leads the Trojans into town Oct. 13 for a nationally televised Thursday night ESPN game at AT&T Park. It won’t be USC’s first trip to the Giants’ ballpark, however, as quarterback Matt Barkley led the Trojans to an Emerald Bowl victory against Boston College in 2009.
Coming off the worst season in Jeff Tedford’s tenure, the Bears will be hoping to play themselves back into perennial bowl participants. But it could be a tough task in the expanded Pac-12 Conference with a new quarterback and running back needing to learn the ropes. Expect some ups and downs, but eventually a return to a bowl game.
BY THE NUMBERS
5-7 Cal’s record in 2010
8 Consecutive winning seasons prior to 2010
13 Returning starters Cal has from last season
$321 million Cost of renovation to Memorial Stadium