BERKELEY-Last season, wide receiver Michael Calvin caught one pass in 10 games. In 2008, he caught four before sustaining a season-ending knee injury during practice. Not exactly the numbers you'd like to see from a wideout heading into his junior season. But, so far through fall camp and the first week of practice, Calvin has shown that his hands - and his psyche - are more than ready to go.
"I haven't seen any signs of that," Tedford said of a mental block that Calvin showed as recently as spring camp, where he showed a bit of tentativeness in running certain routes and certain cuts.
In Thursday's light, helmets-only practice, Calvin hauled in every toss that came his way, including a nice leaping grab to center the ball in his chest before coming down for a 10-yard gain.
"He's always had pretty good hands," Tedford said. "He's just a lot more consistent, and I think his confidence has a lot to do with that. It wasn't that he had poor hands, it's just through all his hard work and dedication over the summer, catching balls, I think he's gained a lot of confidence."
Calvin and the rest of the team appear more than ready for Saturday's season-opener against UC Davis, with just a Friday walk-through between them and the start of the 2010 season.
All of the receivers continued to show great chemistry with starting quarterback Kevin Riley during one-on-one drills on Thursday.
Riley and true freshman Keenan Allen - who will get the start on Saturday across from Marvin Jones - displayed a great rapport, with the fifth-year senior and the newcomer looking as though they'd been hooking up for years instead of months.
On one play late in practice, Riley rolled right and found Allen streaking along the goal line for a scoring strike.
"I love Kevin," Tedford said. "Kevin really has done a nice job. His growth and development as a person, as a player, as a leader is awesome."
As for the tight ends, young Jacob Wark continued his ascension on Thursday, to showing off improved ball skills and soft hands.
Fellow 2010 recruits Kaelin Clay and Tevin Carter each showed improvement during ball-security drills as well as during one-on-ones, but are still on the bubble when it comes to playing time.
"Carter and Clay, no, not definitely," Tedford said. "We could decide a few games into the year."
During the turnover period at the beginning of practice, punters Bryan Anger and freshman Jed Barnett showed great awareness on simulated blocks, with Anger alertly falling on a skittering ball behind him and Barnett recovering from one in time to boot the ball away.
In other special teams news, backup longsnapper Brandon Madueno is still sidelined with an unspecified ankle injury, and spent practice working out on the sidelines in a red jersey.
After practice, Madueno and Anger took advantage of the warm weather - great punting conditions, according to Anger - and put in some extracurricular work on the empty Memorial Stadium turf.
Tedford said that behind starting kick and punt returners Isi Sofele and Ross, candidates for return duty include Allen and Coleman Edmond.
Tedford said that, as of now, Ernest Owusu has the starting defensive end spot opposite senior Cameron Jordan locked down, but he will rotate with backup Trevor Guyton on Saturday.
"They'll rotate, and Deandre Coleman will play as well," Tedford said. "(Owusu) is explosive. He's done a good job. He plays hard. Somebody has to line up as the starter, but we'll have the other guys in there. Guyton's done a great job as well."
Tedford said at Tuesday's press conference that offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig would be handling the playcalling duties on offense, and clarified a bit after Thursday's practice.
"Last year I called a few every now and then," Tedford said. "The year before that, (Frank) Cignetti called most of them and I called a few of them. It was the same thing last year - he called most of them. I may call a play here or there, or I'll just suggest that, hey, we're in this territory, so you might want to think about this or think about that, or what-have-you. We're probably on the same page a lot more on philosophy issues, not that we were on different pages, but as you go through things and learn how each other thinks, then you kind of know what's going on that way."