BERKELEY-The Gumby high-top fade may be gone, but the easy smile and affable personality remain. Senior defensive end Cameron Jordan was as cheery as ever late Wednesday morning as he broke down how the Cal defense plans on attacking Arizona's offense.
"We definitely have to put a lot of pressure on this quarterback," Jordan said, referring to the Wildcats' Nick Foles. "I mean, clearly, he's not a scrambler, so we don't really have to worry about him doing all that."
Jordan is right on the money. Foles rushed just 27 times last year for -73 yards. So far this year, he's pulled the ball down six times for -33 yards.
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"We definitely have some different blitzes and some different contains that we're working on," said Jordan. "I think the key is probably us: the D-line. We've really just got to wreck their O-line, get as much pressure as we can get on them, hopefully make them make a bad decision and our secondary will key in on that."
Last season at Memorial Stadium, Cal held Arizona to just 16 points, shackled tailback Keola Antolin to only 78 rushing yards and, in all honesty, lucked out thanks to the inexperience of a then-sophomore quarterback.
Foles drove the Wildcats down to the Cal 25 with less than two minutes left, and, on third-and-three, saw his pass batted out of the air by now-Jacksonville Jaguar Tyson Alualu. Foles grabbed the bal out of the air at the 34-yard line and tried to throw again, an illegal play.
"That's one of the funnier parts of the game, I mean, I didn't know a quarterback couldn't catch his own ball and try to dish it out again," smiled Jordan on Wednesday. "But, uh, yeah, more power to us, I guess."
Of course, sharp-eyed football fans will remember that Brett Favre's first career completion was, in fact, to himself.
"Nice, nice!" Jorday laughed. "I mean, quarterbacks do like themselves, so they might as well pass it to themselves."
Jordan-who contributed seven tackles and half a sack against Arizona last year-will likely be one of the more experienced players on the defense come Saturday, with the questionable status of senior linebacker Mike Mohamed's big toe still questionable. Mohamed was free from any encumbrances like a boot, brace or tape job on Wednesday, but was not in full pads. He did, however, move quickly and easily during agility drills on the sidelines.
"We'll see, as the week goes on," head coach Jeff Tedford said on Tuesday about how Mohamed will be eased into practice this week, if given the medical go-ahead. "Mike's into it, 100 percent, mentally. That toe, last week, we were told by the doctor that if he were to play, he could risk damaging it more. Your big toe-and the ball of your foot-is very painful when you have something like that, and you can't push off and run. And, if he can't run, then he's not going to be very effective. We obviously didn't want to hurt him any worse."
In Mohamed's stead, junior linebacker D.J. Holt has stepped up in a big way. Thanks to a team-high 10-tackle performance against Nevada last week, Holt now paces the team in tackles with 27-six ahead of Mohamed.
"That's what I keep hearing," smiled Jordan. "He's being a monster right now. With Mike Mo down, he's stepped up, had a great game against Nevada. When he came in, we had some stud backers to begin with, so he just had to work his way in, and sometimes, it takes a little bit longer."
• During pre-practice work, Michael Calvin made a nice long catch mid-stride on the left sideline and continued to make some pretty solid grabs all morning.
• Defensive lineman Trevor Guyton is still out with a boot on his right leg. In Guyton's absence, Aaron Tipoti is really stepping up, particularly in nickel situations.
• Freshman Jed Barnett was consistently booting 65-yard punts for a spell, most with some pretty tight spirals.
• Junior placekicker Giorgio Tavecchio was clutch in field goals out to 42 yards.
• True freshman wideout Keenan Allen's stride is just as smooth and as even as ever, and he showed good sideline awareness and footwork in over-the-shoulder catching. This all despite having a light tape job on his ankle. Looks like it's mainly precautionary.