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September 8, 2011
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BERKELEY -- California head football coach Jeff Tedford said today that redshirt freshman wide receiver Kaelin Clay will indeed not travel with the team on Friday morning's flight, as the team flies into Denver before facing Colorado in Boulder.
"Kaelin is not making this trip. He didn't practice today. He's trying to take care of his academic issue," Tedford said on Thursday morning.
The issue is not eligibility-related, but is rather an internal matter, one that is frustrating for Tedford, particularly because Clay is perhaps the only true home run threat in the receiving corps, speed-wise.
"It is, especially after he got hurt the first day of camp, so he's been on the rehab thing the whole time, and we just found out about an academic issue this week," Tedford said. "We've got to get that clarified and rectified, hopefully."
While Clay may be left behind, true freshmen wide receivers Maurice Harris and Bryce McGovern will make the trip, and, outside of the top four wide outs -- Keenan Allen, Marvin Jones, Michael Calvin and Coleman Edmond -- will be the ones most likely to get into the rotation.
Not making the trip will be Jackson Bouza. Though the possession receiver has been catching the ball better with one hand than most people can with two since returning from a broken finger, he is still not game-ready.
Of course, those won't be the only freshmen to be making their first true road trips. Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Hinder will be returning to his home state, and after practice was very excited to be going, saying that, for him, the altitude wouldn't be a problem. During his days at Steamboat Springs High, he played against Gunnison, at an elevation of 7,700 feet above sea level.
On defense, the Bears will bring true freshmen Jalen Jefferson, Brennan Scarlett, Mustafa Jalil, Viliami Moala, Chris McCain, Cecil Whiteside, Avery Sebastian, Kameron Jackson and Stefan McClure.
Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said that the addition of the fast-developing freshmen has helped to shore up depth.
"We wwant to see those outside linebackers play, and along the defensive line, we've got some young guys that, I think can come in and contribute, and in the secondary, as well. I've never been afraid to play younger players, and if these guys can show they can help us win football games, they're going to get an opportunity to play."
Whiteside -- along with several others -- will be progressively played more and more as he and the rest of the youngsters get their feet wet.
"Cecil's a developing player, and I think the strength of his game is probably his athleticism, in terms of rushing the passer, and I think he exhibited some of that last week," Pendergast said. "We're excited about some of the progress he's made, but he needs to continue to be a little bit more consistent in some of the things we're asking him to do."
Providing some experience in the secondary - and racking up five hits last week for the fourth-most on the team - is senior free safety D.J. Campbell, who, along with senior strong safety Sean Cattouse, has shored up the middle of the defensive backfield.
"I've really liked D.J. since I've been here," Pendergast said. "Really, at the end of camp last year, he and Chris Conte battled in camp for the starting job at one of the safety positions, and they both were fairly inconsistent in camp, but really Chris was just a little more consistent than D.J. was, so we went with Chris and Chris just got better and better every week and D.J. never really got an opportunity to unseat him. So, The way D.J. played in the first game doesn't surprise me. He sees the big picture, he's very athletic, very smart football player. He's one of those guys you only have to tell something once to, and he gets it. That's a big plus for him, and he just needs to play."
Pendergast said that Cattouse -- who had missed practice with a concussion -- was a full-go on Thursday and will play on Saturday. There will also not be any changes to the rest of the starting defensive lineup, though outside linebacker Ryan Davis will see more time in the base package behind starter Dan Camporeale.
McCain will see time in obvious passing downs.
"He'll be rolling in there," Pendergast said. "He's another guy that's got tremendous upside and he'll be out there in more obvious-type passing situations and he's going to be able to continue to rush the passer."
Another player who will see a lot of development time in the field will be Moala.
"I think every week he's going to play more," Pendergast said. "He played last week on field goal block and then we got him in there a few reps, but he's a guy that we've talked about, and every week we're just going to kind of -- I don't know if 'spoon-feed' is a good way to put it -- but we're going to use a little bigger spoon and let him play a little more every week."
DeAndre Coleman will likely see more time at defensive end as the season progresses.
"He's doing well," Pendergast said. "He's going to continue to play a little bit more. I like the things I see out of him. He's a big, physical guy that gives us a presence out there. He's definitely another guy that we've targeted that we want to get on the field a little bit more. The biggest concern with him is his consistency, and we've had conversations about that. He's made a lot of strides this last year, but he still needs to continue climbing that mountain."
-- Last week's staring fullback Will Kapp was on the sidelines on Thursday, along with Trajuan Briggs, Darren Ervin and Mike Manuel. Ervin looked to be recovering from an unspecified injury quite well, running effortlessly during passing drills. Kapp will travel, but is questionable for the game after sustaining a concussion.
"He's going to get checked today and tomorrow and we'll see," Tedford said.
If Kapp can't go, John Tyndall will start at fullback, with Nico Dumont -- who's seen his workload vastly increase this week -- in the No. 2 slot, followed by David Aknin.
-- The punters, kickers and longsnappers worked out on grass during practice, as they have during the week to prepare for the tight turf at Folsom Field in Boulder.
"They kick on grass every day," Tedford said. "They go to Evans [Diamond], they may go to Golden Bear [Field], there's different places, depending on what the schedule's like. Just find grass anywhere we can find it."
-- It has been Tedford's policy that tailbacks who fumble tend to spend more time on the sidelines than in the backfield. Despite starter Isi Sofele's two fumbles last week, and another fumble that was negated by a dead ball penalty, Sofele looks to be in no danger of losing his spot to No. 2 back Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson or C.J. Anderson, at least for the moment.
"No. If it were to continue, then we would put him down," Tedford said. "Couldn't really tell what happened in the end zone down there at the beginning. I think he wwas trying to get back out of the end zone and looked like he jumped to get out. It was hard to tell, really, what happened down there. There was a whole bunch of things going on, but, yeah, if putting the ball on the ground continues to be an issue, then that's unacceptable. That can't happen."
-- Standouts during practice were Hinder - who came out firing very well - as well as McGovern and Harris, who each showed good snap in change of direction.
-- Both Edmond and Allen made nice one-handed grabs during positional work, with Allen playfully zinging the ball right back at wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau. Overall, there was a more jovial mood at Witter Rugby Field than at the rest of practices this week.
"Good focus, a lot of energy today," Tedford said. "Thursdays are typically like that. As you draw closer to the game, Thursdays are always up-tempo, take the pads off, get ready to go, a lot of energy type thing."
-- Freshman tailback Brendan Bigelow looked to be continuing his progress, getting quicker during passing drills. He showed smooth acceleration and adjustment to the ball in flight, as did tight end Richard Rodgers.