August 8, 2012

Bears suit up in full pads for first time this fall



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BERKELEY -- Jeff Tedford is a football nerd, to put it kindly. The California head coach has an extensive personal library of game film. He's fanatic about detail. He's a perfectionist. So, when he describes anything he sees on the field as "perfect," even in his muted, reserved post-practice media sessions, he might as well be jumping up and down.

That's how he described one throw made on Wednesday by true freshman quarterback Zach Kline -- a throw which was on the lips of several players as they left Witter Rugby Field after the Bears' first fall camp practice in full pads.

"He looked it off left and came back and threw a perfect ball, right on stride to [Kenny] Lawler," Tedford said. "He threw a nice post. It was nice."

Observers said the pass was a rocket that traveled about 40-50 yards in the air, all the way down to the 20-yard line. Kline also had two touchdown passes in team and 7-on-7 work as Cal went live for the first time this fall.

[RELATED: Day Four Breakdown: Offense ]

"It was good. It was really good. We got a chance to bang a little bit," Tedford said. "I can't wait to watch the tape, but there were some good hits. Backs ran hard. It was nice."

Players and observers were also buzzing about freshman wide receivers Bryce Treggs and Darius Powe. By several accounts, Powe caught just about everything thrown his way, and at 6-foot-3, 212-pounds, he's a big target.

"He's big," Tedford said. "He needs to lose some weight. We're trying to get him about eight to 10 pounds right now. He's about 217, but we want him closer to 205. I think he'll move a lot better. He's moving fine, but he can really move better if we can cut his weight a little bit."

Another player who has dropped some considerable poundage is defensive tackle Viliami Moala. After coming in at close to 370 pounds, the former four-star US Army All-American out of Sacramento (Calif.) Grant is now a relatively skinny 335.

"He's probably down about 10 pounds from spring," Tedford said. "He's probably down between 10 and 15 pounds, depending on which meal."

Moala and several other players have been absent from practice, due to summer school finals.

"He's finishing some school stuff, so he's been doing that, so today, he wasn't here," Tedford said. "Friday will be the last day of them studying for finals. Some of them were up late into the night and early morning studying, writing papers and doing finals, so a lot of academic stuff still going on."

Tedford said that the first day in pads wasn't too taxing, as far as injuries go, with the only real medical note being some cramping on the part of defensive end Puka Lopa. The biggest change, as Tedford notes during every camp, is that finally, the team can play some real football.

"We're able to go low, more. When we just have shells on, we can't block below the waist," Tedford said. "A lot of the run game is predicated on reaching and knocking getting on the ground, which is kind of hard to do when everybody's trying to stay up. It really allows us to get after legs, it allows defensive linemen to play the cut block and makes people play a lot lower. Sometimes you can get in bad habits, trying to stay on your feet the whole time. The key is bending at the knees, so when we get in pads and when we're doing those drills, it helps us play with low pad level and bend at the knees."

There was one big hit of note, coming from safety Tyre Ellison.

"Tyre Ellison had a nice hit down here on the goal line, filled up in there nice and made a nice tackle," Tedford said. "There wasn't any oh-my-gosh de-cleaters, but good tackling."

Going in full pads allowed true sophomore tailback Brendan Bigelow to continue his strong camp.

[RELATED: Bigelow Shows No Fear on Day Four ]

"Great. Great, yeah. He didn't get that many touches today, but when he ran with the ball, he ran fine," Tedford said. "Lot of confidence, playing really fast."

HIGHLIGHTS
-- A forced fumble by outside linebacker Chris McCain that was recovered by cornerback Steve Williams on the first drive of the first team session.

-- The 50-yard completion from Kline to Lawler also during the first team session.

-- Four quarterbacks -- Zach Maynard, Allan Bridgford, Kline and Austin Hinder -- each registered TD passes during the red zone portion of the final team session.

-- Nine different players -- Ross Bostock, Maurice Harris, Spencer Hagan, Lawler, Bryce McGovern, Powe, Richard Rodgers, Treggs, and Patrick Worstell -- were on the receiving end of a combined 10 touchdowns passes, highlighted by diving catches in the end zone from Bostock and Treggs.



 

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