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August 6, 2012
Day Two Fall Camp News and Notes
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BERKELEY -- While Day Two of the California football team's fall camp was, as head coach Jeff Tedford said, a "typical Day Two," there were some happenings of note.
True freshman Christian Okafor -- who did not dress on Saturday - was back on the field on Sunday after his 101-degree fever broke.
Elsewhere along the offensive line, true freshman center Matt Cochran -- who had quite a fine first practice on Saturday with his 6-foot-7, 340-pound "little" brother Aaron Cochran watching -- took a bit of a step back on the second day of fall camp.
"I thought Matt Cochran had a nice practice yesterday. Today he struggled a little bit with the quarterback-center exchange," Tedford said. "But, there's a lot to know in there and it's moving kind of fast for him. I felt like he showed some nice signs of being a big guy who can move his feet, and so I was pleased with him. Again, it's the second day in helmets, and there's a long way to go."
[READ MORE: Day One: Tight Ends, Running Backs and Offensive Line ]
The offense as a whole was "a little rusty," but Tedford said that it was not unexpected.
"You install a very minimal package going in on the first day, and then every day, there's just more that goes in and when people are thinking, the execution drops off a little bit," Tedford said. "Once you force-feed all the installation, you come back and do it again and sharpen up the execution."
Junior defensive tackle Austin Clark -- who was seen in a boot on Saturday - is healing from an offseason broken foot, which had nothing to do with practice, but was rather suffered during a shuttle test over the summer. Tedford said that he should be back in three weeks to a month. Clark was in the running for some serious playing time at nose guard behind starter Kendrick Payne, despite being all of 5-foot-10, 275 pounds.
[READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Fortt Arrives]
"He really was. He's a guy we were depending on to do some things, and we still are depending on him," Tedford said. "He's a tenacious player, really has a lot of leadership, cares a lot, hard player. We'll be excited when he gets back."
On Day One, Keni Kaufusi moved back to the inside, but on Sunday, Tedford said the staff has moved 6-foot-5, 293-pound Gabe King to the inside. King has yet to find much traction at defensive end, and was last year passed up by a true freshman in Mustafa Jalil.
As noted on Saturday, sophomore Lucas King -- who left the program in 2011 - has come on strong at outside linebacker, particularly -- it seemed -- in dime situations.
[READ MORE: Day One: Special Teams and Defense] "He's in all personnel groups. He can run, he's athletic, he's got a lot of range, he's long -- a long-armed guy," Tedford said. "He's done a nice job. He had a nice spring, and I think he'll continue to develop through the fall. There's a lot of depth with those guys at that outside position."
Elsewhere in the linebacker corps, sophomore Brennan Scarlett made a big impression on the opening day of camp, despite being in a yellow no-contact jersey. Scarlett, though, was not held back because of his offseason knee surgery. Like teammate Dasarte Yarnway this spring, his injury was of the motor vehicle variety.
"He said he was fine. He said he felt OK today, but I don't think he's 100 percent. He got into a little scooter accident -- that's what's holding him back," Tedford said. "He was doing fine, but he got in a scooter accident last week and hurt his ankle. His knee was doing fine. Scarlett's back, so Scarlett, [Dan] Camporeale, [Chris] McCain, King -- there's a lot of linebackers to choose from."
Other injuries, however, take a bit longer to recover from. Though defensive back Stefan McClure was helping out the staff by tossing some balls to his teammates in practice on Saturday, Tedford said that the sophomore is the furthest away out of any of the injured players from returning, after a gruesome tearing of his ACL, MCL and meniscus against Arizona State last year.
"He's not doing enough to need a brace," Tedford said. "He's really not doing much. It's all rehab. That microfracture surgery is a long, long surgery that you have to make sure it heals properly."
Recovery from microfracture surgery requires time and, above all, patience, to allow the re-growth of the joint surface. The recovery time is varied, but given McClure's top-level physical condition and the new therapy facilities the Cal medical staff has at-hand, the most time he would be expected to miss would be the entire season.
Tedford spoke at greater length about the trip he and offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik took this summer to New England, to visit the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick.
"It's always nice to go study ball somewhere, in all things, and it wasn't just about tight end play," Tedford said. "It was a little bit about everything, and having a chance to spend some time with coach Belichick and talk to him."
Tedford and Belichick did not have a previous relationship, but there was at least one familiar face in camp: former Bears tailback Shane Vereen.
"He (Belichick) was very welcoming. I talked to the team when I left. That day, he asked me to talk to the team when I left there, which was unusual. But, it was nice to see Shane, of course," Tedford said. "He was doing a nice job. It's always nice to spend some time with coach Belichick and just kind of look at the organization and the work ethic and the discipline for a team that's really had so much success."
[VIDEO: Day One, Part One ]
While a significant part of the visit was Tedford and Michalczik picking up program-wide concepts, witnessing the team-wide disciplinary practices and practice organization techniques, the main thrust of the visit was, of course, to learn how to utilize three tight ends with three different skill sets in 6-foot-5, 235-pound Spencer Hagan, 6-foot-4, 255-pound Jacob Wark and 6-foot-4, 270-pound Richard Rodgers.
"I feel like we have a different skill set with our tight ends right now, with Rodgers and with Hagan. Hagan's a converted receiver, but he's done a nice job of building himself up. He's really smart," Tedford said.
Of course, given his size and build, it's easy to forget that Rodgers was a wide receiver once upon a time in high school.
"Yeah, but he weighs 270 pounds," Tedford laughed. "Today, he released off the ball on one of the DBs and just left him standing there. He got down the field, and it was actually [freshman] Damariay Drew, and it was really funny. I said, 'Damariay, you know how much that guy weighs?' and he said 280. He says, 'Man, he can move for 280!' It was big eyes at we've got a 280-pound guy here who just shook me like that."
Tedford noted Drew as one of the early camp standouts, given that he's just a true freshman.
"Early signs are that Willie Fletcher and Damariay really have a nice skill set," Tedford said. "They have good feet, they can run, Damariay is physical. I know when we put the pads on, I'm anxious to see it, but I have a pretty good idea that he's going to do a good job of tackling. Willie Fletcher is a long, rangy corner who can run, and he's physical. It's the second day in helmets, but you can see certain guys flash there, and those two guys have kind of stuck out a little bit."
[VIDEO: Day One, Part Two ]
Redshirt freshman Joel Willis has also returned to the defensive side of the ball after spending the spring on offense.
"He did a nice job. He picked off a ball yesterday, picked off another one today," Tedford said. "He's got good feet, and he's another one in the running as a kick returner."
Apart from projected starters in punter Cole Leininger, kicker Vince D'Amato, punt returner Keenan Allen and kick returners Brendan Bigelow and Mike Manuel, the Bears are in the hunt for a few more good men to fill out the return game, including some of the freshman wide receivers.
"We're in the evaluation process with that, right now. All those young guys, during special teams period, are catching punts and catching kickoffs," Tedford said. "Guys who can come off the edge to block kicks, so we've got a couple of special team drills today to just see how people move in space, how people avoid blocks, can they tackle -- we didn't tackle today, but can they move their feet to get into position to tackle -- a lot of evaluation going on. Of course, when it becomes real football, then you can really tell."