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April 19, 2011

Bears work on execution

SAN PABLO, Calif. -- After a Saturday practice marred by false starts and botched snaps, today, the California football team concentrated on execution in its ninth session of spring camp.

"We got the snaps down today," laughed head coach Jeff Tedford. "That was an improvement. Baby steps. That's the thing about the scrimmage deal: when the snaps go bad, it puts us in third-and-17 and makes it a little difficult. We improved today, and that's something we really need to work at. The other day was kind of odd."

After going over the tape from Saturday's scrimmage, Tedford saw much of what he suspected on offense: missed assignments and poor execution. He intends to fix those problems this week.

"The physical part of it, the mistakes, mental mistakes, assignments, attention to detail, all the things you learn from watching the tape, we can coach from," Tedford said. "We had some blown assignments where guys came clean and that happens when you take a guy and you move positions with them and things like that. That's what we had a few times. That's kind of what we had, with guys coming clean."

After practice, Tedford watched intently as quarterbacks Zach Maynard and Allan Bridgford practiced snaps with centers Mark Brazinski and Chris Adcock.

With offensive line veterans Mitchell Schwartz and Dominic Galas on limited duty because of offseason surgery, determining the strength of the line will remain a big question mark throughout the rest of the spring.

"You have two freshmen, really, at center," Tedford said, referring to redshirt freshman Adcock and sophomore Brazinski. "Those guys are getting very valuable reps right now, through spring. They're getting all the reps, and it's something that they need, because Galas is a good player and he has some experience. Now we need to create some depth, so those guys getting all the turns, making the mistakes, Bill Tyndall at tackle, he's in the mix now, so every day is a learning experience."

Tedford said that, when healthy, Schwartz will be the best tackle on the line, and, depending on who wins the starting job at quarterback, will be protecting the blind side.

On his first day back since going down with a sprained ankle, early-enrollee running back Darren Ervin did plenty of learning as he knocked off several weeks of rust.

"He got back today and practiced for the first time in a long time," Tedford said. "He had a lot of rust, because he's still hobbled, so he's not full-speed. The other thing is that the hasn't had the reps so he hasn't learned the plays so he's a little bit confused about what he's doing. He showed some nice movement and stuff. He did an alright job. It'll be nice to see him full-speed."

Also back on the field was redshirt freshman David Wilkerson, who had missed the vast majority of spring practice with a hip flexor issue. He spent the day playing on the outside with the first-team defense.

"It was great to see him back out there," Tedford said. "I thing that's his position. Right now, he's the starting Sam, so I think that's his position. I absolutely see a little bit of (Zack) Follett in him. He comes off the edge, he's very physical, he can run, he's athletic. He's got a lot of those same tendencies."

Tight end Spencer Ladner had surgery on his knee late last week after suffering a torn meniscus or MCL. He will miss the rest of spring ball, and will take three to four months to recover.

With Ladner down, though, converted wide receiver Spencer Hagan has made great strides since returning from a bruised rib, and made a nice acrobatic catch towards the end of practice.

"He made a couple plays today, and he's coming along pretty well there," Tedford said. "I've been pleased with what he's done at the line of scrimmage. Being the skinny guy, you'd think that would be something totally out of his comfort zone, but he actually does a nice job, comes out with good pad level and once we put some more weight on him, I think that's a good position for him."

Senior linebacker Ryan Davis was sidelined for most of practice after his big toe got stepped on. The swelling prevented the 6-foot-4, 256-pounder from pushing off. Defensive lineman DeAndre Coleman was also on the shelf for a good portion of practice with a bruise on his lower back.

"That's the difference between pain and injury: everybody's going to be banged up in spring ball," Tedford said.

The Bears have moved their final scheduled open practice from San Ramon Valley High School - the home of 2012 QB commit Zach Kline - to Contra Costa College on April 30. The practice will go from noon to 2:30 PM.

"You can't really control the environment," Tedford said of San Ramon Valley. "Like, parking over at San Ramon, there's a lot of construction going on and all that kind of thing. We're familiar with this, it's a nice facility, so this is just fine."


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