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August 17, 2012

Day 13: Injuries take their toll, OL depth solidifying



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BERKELEY -- Despite injuries to Mark Brazinski and Dominic Galas, the California offensive line has been one of the few units that hasn't been slowed by personnel issues as the Bears move into the second half of fall camp.

The depth chart has now started to emerge in a more concrete form as of Friday. Head coach Jeff Tedford said that, if Cal were to play today, the starting five would be Tyler Rigsbee at left tackle, Jordan Rigsbee at left guard, Brian Schwenke at center, Chris Adcock at right guard and Matt Summers-Gavin at right tackle.

"There is no such thing as threes anymore," Tedford said. "The threes are rotating with the twos. We're to the point where there are no threes -- there are no twos on the D-line anymore, so we're definitely not at threes."

On Friday, true freshmen Freddie Tagaloa and Matt Cochran each took reps with the second-team offense at left tackle and center, respectively, with Geoffrey Gibson at right guard.

"Gibson's still in the rotation. [Bill] Tyndall is in the rotation," Tedford said. "Some of the young guys, I think -- Steven Moore and Cochran -- are right there. We're still working Freddie a little bit to bring him along."

Before fall camp began, Tedford oft cited the 6-foot-8, 340-pound true freshman out of Richmond (Calif.) Salesian as a candidate for early playing time, owing to his physical prowess.

"We're still waiting to see," Tedford said. "He does some good things, but speed of the game -- he's got to get used to the speed of the game."

Cochran is making great strides in the mental aspect of the game, as he's been pressed into service as the second center. That said, if the situation arises early in the season where the Bears need an emergency center, there are others who are ahead of the true freshman.

"We'll have to see. It would be either Adcock moving back to center or Rigsbee could go in at center, or we could put Cochran there," Tedford said.

Cochran, Tedford says, still needs to adjust to the speed the game.

"Actually, the mental part of the game, he's doing really well with," Tedford said. "It's just the physical part and continuing to grow. He's got a ball in his hands, so the snap is obviously key. Thinking and snapping and then executing, the center has a bit more to do than those other guys do."

Fellow true freshman Christian Okafor is a bit further away, and won't get playing time this season as a likely redshirt candidate.

Other units haven't been so lucky. Tedford may have to overhaul the remaining schedule, given some injury attrition on defense.

With inside linebacker David Wilkerson limited, Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt still not ready to participate in practice and more than half of the defensive line dealing with nagging injuries, Tedford has some plans to adjust.

"This whole week, I'm getting ready to go in right now and probably change the whole week's schedule, to see what do we need to still get done, and what can we do. Can we push something back to get it done next Thursday instead of on Monday, or what," Tedford said.

Tedford said that the team's next scrimmage -- scheduled for Monday -- may be adjusted or even moved just for lack of bodies.

"If we can't get quality out of it, then there's really no use in doing it," Tedford said. "We just have to see how people end up healing up."

The limitations on Viliami Moala and Mustafa Jalil -- who were not projected to start, but are expected to be big contributors - have hamstrung what the Bears have been able to do on defense.

"We have enough confidence and experience in the guys that are going to be in there," Tedford said. "They played a lot last year, so all those guys -- Moose and Vei -- all those guys, we've already seen play. We know what they can do -- it's just a matter of whether they're in shape, they're physically healthy and do the things that we ask them to do -- that's what's wrong right now."

Not being able to go full-bore leaves the staff wanting a bit more. Tedford, for one, is eager to see how all the parts fit together, but he may just have to wait.

"We've had enough of that, and the game being two and a half weeks away, we feel like we've got a lot of good work done, so now the focus goes on probably more pod work instead of big team work -- two-on-twos and two-on-ones and three-on-twos and things like that where we don't have a bunch of bodies falling over each other and things," said the Cal skipper. "We're still going to be physical and we're still going to do things, so we're getting a lot of work done -- we're productive -- we just have to make sure everybody gets healthy."


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