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August 25, 2011

Freshmen make moves on depth chart



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BERKELEY -- When defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast suggested to California head football coach Jeff Tedford that the Bears flip their longtime practice jersey color scheme, it wasn't just because the second-year coach wanted to see what it would look like.

"It was just to throw you guys off," Tedford smirked to the media afterwards. "No, it's for what you're wearing on home games so that the quarterbacks get used to seeing that color. Actually, it was Clancy. He said something about it, and I guess that's what they do in the NFL or whatever. It's a good idea. It makes sense."

When the season opens on Sept. 3, Cal will be the designated home team -- ostensibly wearing their blue tops -- against Fresno State at Candlestick Park.

While seeing freshman defensive tackle Viliami Moala in white at first engendered visions of an unstoppable goal-line fullback, the human-bowling ball hybrid will see plenty of action in his first season on the other side of the ball where he belongs, according to Tedford, who now has a "pretty good idea" as to which freshmen will see the field this fall.

Along with Moala, other impact freshmen will include cornerback Stefan McClure, defensive end Mustafa Jalil, safety Avery Walls, tight end Richard Rodgers, outside linebacker Chris McCain and tailback C.J. Anderson, who has been pushing Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson for the No. 2 tailback slot of late.

"Very close. It's very close," said Tedford, who, when asked whether DeBoskie-Johnson has the second slot secured, smirked a bit, and repeated, "It's very close."

Anderson -- a transfer from Laney College in Oakland -- has had to run himself into shape since finishing one remaining junior college class over the summer, and from all the latest indications, he may be just about ready for his close up.

"Oh yea, he's in better shape," Tedford said. "He's got really good balance, he's strong, he catches the ball really well, he's a physical guy, so that's the thing about him: he breaks tackles. That's been pretty impressive so far."

Scarlett is a curious case, in that he's projected as a defensive end, but has been taking reps with the linebackers throughout fall camp and could wind up as more of a rush end by the time he hits the field with regularity.

"He's kind of a defensive end, and linebacker. They're kind of the same," Tedford said. "Really, I mean, he's really a defensive end."

With freshman wide receiver Kaelin Clay moving around a bit more on Thursday, Tedford was asked how close his potential home-run threat is to returning to active duty by opening day. Clay surely has the itch, even donning his helmet for a moment while getting on the stationary bicycle.

"That's iffy. He could be," Tedford said. "He's running now, and things like that, so we just have to see how the change of direction and things like that come along. It's possible."

In Clay's stead, senior receiver Coleman Edmond has emerged as a revelation on the outside, combining size and speed with strength and quickness to move into the rotation.

"I think he can play faster because he knows what he's doing more, now, and he's catching the ball more consistently, running really good routes, so I think, mainly, it's knowing what he's doing," Tedford said of his junior college transfer who spent much of 2010 on the bench after signing out of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif. "He can concentrate on fundamentals and techniques instead of wondering what he's doing all the time."

For Edmond, it's been the coaching of Eric Kiesau that's really helped him to master the offense and become a factor this year.

"He's simplified everything a lot," Edmond said. "Coach [Kevin] Daft was also a great coach, but coach Kiesau, he puts it out there in a way I understand a little bit better. They're both great coaches. Some people just learn a little bit differently, and coach Kiesau is able to teach me the way I learn best."

With Spencer Ladner still on the shelf, it looks like sure-handed H-back Spencer Hagan will take over the No. 2 slot behind starter Anthony Miller. Ladner was running sprints on the sidelines early Thursday morning, as he progresses in his knee rehab.

Defensive tackle Aaron Tipoti was back practicing in full after being on the shelf with a relapse of post-concussion symptoms, as was offensive tackle Tyler Rigsbee, who participated fully in Cal's first official practice of the regular season.

"He practiced. He didn't play in the scrimmage. Today was his first real practice," Tedford said. "From what I could tell, I mean, typically, if someone doesn't stand out, it means they did OK. If they make mistakes, you notice them. He's good with assignments and things like that. Now, whether physically, he was where he needs to be, I would highly doubt it. He's going to have to work himself back into that, but he always stays into it, mentally."

Having longtime prep and juco coach in father Craig Rigsbee looking on over the final days of spring practice would certainly seem to ensure that Tyler -- along with younger brother in true freshman guard Jordan Rigsbee -- would keep his head in the game.

Tyler Rigsbee figures to be the back-up at both offensive tackle positions, though Tedford said that the official two-deep will not be released until Sunday.

In the meantime, he did say that the No. 1 linebacking unit -- at least for Thursday -- consisted of David Wilkerson and Dan Camporeale on the outside, with Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt on the inside.

"Campo, he's absolutely in the mix there, yeah," Tedford said of the outside spot opposite Wilkerson, which figures to be hotly contested between Camporeale, senior Ryan Davis, McCain and Cecil Whiteside. "All those guys are going to play, it's just a matter of who takes first reps, and we'll know that this weekend, moving closer to the game."

One second slot that Tedford was willing to speak about was at the quarterback position, where, behind junior transfer Zach Maynard, sophomore Allan Bridgford has taken hold as the first back-up.

"He's just been real consistent," Tedford said. "He's really done a nice job, mentally, with the game, understanding what we're doing and he's had a consistent camp."



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