Young players take the lead in practice

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BERKELEY -- For the California football team, this weekend is one in which youth will be served, both on the field and off.
"A lot of this is very basic plays for some of our young guys to run and things like that, so this weekend and next weekend -- next weekend's a huge recruiting weekend -- and it will be no different. We'll spend most of the day -- and nights - recruiting," said head coach Jeff Tedford. "I got finished with my last meeting with a recruit probably 15 minutes before I came on the field today. I spent all morning doing that and I spent all night last night recruiting and I'll spend all night tonight recruiting and all morning tomorrow recruiting, so there's not a lot that goes into it (practice). I already prepared all the practice schedules from now until the end of bowl practice, and all that's going to change is what goes in these sections (play scripts). It'll be game plan instead of just generic."
At the beginning of the season Tedford had expressed desire to reduce the weekly playbook from 150 plays to around 100. Though the first two postseason practices have seen a reduced load in order to work the young players into the fold, the weekly script has not changed from seasons past.
"We've kept the same amount all year," Tedford said. "All year long, we've had the same amount of plays. Same amount of plays we've always had, anywhere between probably 115 and 140 from week to week, depending. [A bowl game] would be no different."
A simpler playbook this week has allowed the redshirting freshmen a chance to shine, including tailback Daniel Lasco.
"Lasco did a good job. He had a long touchdown run, so he looked good. It was really uneventful," Tedford said of Saturday's practice. "It was full gear, a good practice. We got some hitting in, it was good. The ones and twos got limited reps and then we let some of the young guys go live a little bit, so it was nice."
Senior wide receiver Micheal Calvin returned to practice for the first time since a knee injury scare sidelined him after the Big Game.
Freshman defensive back Joel Willis was carted off the field and carried into the training room late in practice, but Tedford said that it was just cramps.
Calvin, as well as linebackers David Wilkerson and Chris McCain are looking good to play in the bowl game, almost assured to be a Holiday Bowl tilt against Texas after Baylor's resounding 48-24 win over the Longhorns on Saturday.
"When it becomes final, I will comment on the bowl game and who our opponent is. Until then, there's no reason to do that," Tedford said. "All you need to do is wait one more day. Today's Saturday, so tomorrow, we'll know."
After the bowl is announced at 5:30 PM on Sunday - in the middle of the team's annual banquet - the Bears will begin preparation, going into full bowl mode after a week of recruiting and finals.
"This week coming up, on Monday, we will still be out recruiting," Tedford said. "Then, the following week will be game planning. The coaches who are in and aren't on the road recruiting, they will be game planning, but then everyone as a staff will start the real game planning as a staff the following week."
Cal will have until Dec. 28 to craft a game plan against Texas -- or whoever the opponent may be -- giving the Bears much more extra time than normal.
"You can only do so much. Sometimes, a lot of time is detrimental, because you want to put a lot in, but you can only run so many plays," Tedford said. "You can only practice so many plays and you can only run so many plays, so you have to watch out that you don't overdo it by putting too much in. It's just not as hectic to do it boom, boom, boom. There's a little more time to do it.
"Understanding is not a big deal, but practicing it and calling it in a game, if you can't call it all -- which we are already guilty of having way too much, because you can't call it all -- the bowl games, the bye weeks, they're the same type of thing. You have a lot of time to put stuff in, so you have to be smart about what you can put in and what our players can execute."
For now, junior quarterback Zach Maynard is working on the little things to stay sharp after a solid stretch during the last four games of the season.
"This week, I'm just focusing on fundamentals right now," Maynard said. "I really don't know who we're playing, so we're just playing against our defense, trying to manipulate them the best way I can and focusing on my academics, trying to stay strong in the classroom."
His toughest class on the finals docket?
"Sociology class. I've got a couple, so all those are hard, based on theory," Maynard said.