BERKELEY-With the south scoreboard still glowing with Saturday's score, the Cal football team took to the field late Monday morning for a light, helmets-only workout focusing mainly on positional work and a little special teams.
After practice, head coach Jeff Tedford confirmed that, after last week's performance, true freshman Keenan Allen will be taking over for safety Chris Conte on kickoff returns, taking his place opposite of No. 2 tailback Isi Sofele. This marks a change in return philosophy, from having the second returner act as an extra blocker (as Conte did) to having two pure returners.
But while Allen's duties may be expanding, his head isn't, even after Saturday's romp.
"I already talked to him about it," Tedford smiled. "I already denied him for a thing tonight. Kyle (McRae, associate media relations director) wanted to bring him, and I said no. We're not going to overwhelm the guy. He's still a freshman. He's still a young guy. Yeah, he had a good first game, but Keenan doesn't really like that (attention) any way. He's not into all that stuff."
Early in practice, Allen and fellow starting wideout Marvin Jones played a little long toss, and Allen showed some nice touch on passes out to 30 yards.
Of course, his primary job is to catch-not to throw. Starting quarterback Kevin Riley looked sharp both with touch-balls and low liners during one-on-ones, but the same couldn't be said for his backups, who occasionally had a tough time finding the right range.
Brock Mansion put a little too much under two of his passes to tight ends, but true freshman Jacob Wark-who caught his first collegiate pass on Saturday-was able to make a nice leaping catch to haul in one of them.
After having watched the tape of last week's game, Tedford had some words to say about the performance of the Bears' No. 2 signal-caller, sophomore Beau Sweeney, who looked uncomfortable in the pocket and elected to run several times with open men downfield. While Sweeney went 6-for-8 for 29 yards, he also rushed six times, though he was able to acquit himself quite well, running for 34 yards and a score.
"I think that's true," Tedford said of Sweeney's happy feet. "First game. You're getting the feel for the speed of the game out there is real important, so it was nice to get him into the game and let him get that experience."
While the Bears were able to get 51 players on the field in Saturday's game, one name that was conspicuously absent was Matt Summers-Gavin.
"We didn't feel like we needed to risk that," Tedford said of his right tackle, who missed most of camp with a bone bruise in his knee. "He should play this week. If the week of practice goes fine, he should be fine, unless something happens through practice. It's only Monday."
With Summers-Gavin held out, Tedford was reasonably happy with the performance of the offensive line, complimenting the center play of Dominic Galas and the guard play of Justin Cheadle. Things weren't all rosy, however, as Cal didn't break off many particularly long runs. The Bears' tailbacks only had three runs of over 10 yards.
"We got a couple who got hit in the backfield, and you never like to see that, but that's not just the offensive line. That's the tight ends, the fullbacks, stuff like that," Tedford said. "I've said many times that the long runs are made in the secondary, with receivers blocking and things, but those guys played hard. You've got to give (the Aggies) credit. They ran to the ball really well and played really hard. We were fairly consistent."
But for as many times as Davis defenders made their presence felt in the backfield, the Aggies' experienced offensive line was clearly in over their heads against the Bears' defensive front, particularly against defensive end Deandre Coleman.
"He played pretty well, he played pretty well. He was very physical at the point of attack," Tedford said. "But, again, the guy he was playing against was overmatched. When he got his pads down and pushed, he's knocking the guy five yards into the backfield. Knocked it back to where the exchange was happening, one time."
On the whole, Tedford was pleased with the performance on the defensive line, even though it came at the expense of an opponent like Davis.
"Yeah, they did get into the backfield, but again, Davis was a little overmatched in the front," Tedford said. "Davis had some good-sized offensive linemen, but the strength of our guys, I think, was a little bit more for them. It'll be a different story this week. Colorado has a huge offensive line-all 300-pound guys for the most part-so it'll be a lot better test."
This week's opponent, a future-Pac-10 squad in the Buffaloes, has a starting offensive line that averages 6-foot-6 and 299 pounds, and while a major weakness last year, the front five could turn out to be a solid unit this season. In contrast, it should be noted, the Cal starting offensive line averages 6-foot-3, 287 pounds.
Tedford has already made sure that his team isn't going to simply rest on its laurels after Saturday's pounding of Davis.
"Yes. We've already talked about that, in this morning's meeting," Tedford said. "I made it clear to them. It's going to be a different story, now."
With that, Tedford discussed what he's seen in his film study of the Buffs.
"They're good. I mean, they've got some speed at receiver, they have really quick running backs, their quarterback (Tyler Hansen) is athletic. He can move the pocket and he can throw the football," Tedford said. "Defensively, they have a lot of speed on defense. They played really well and pretty much shut Colorado State down, picked them off three times. That's not easy to do, because Colorado State usually moves the ball pretty well. Defensively, they're playing tough."