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August 31, 2011

Anderson looks to be a third down option



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BERKELEY -- As the countdown continues to Saturday's season opener against Fresno State, the California football team began to wrap up its game plan installation on Wednesday, particularly on offense.

"They were fine. There were good things. That's why you practice. Ones and twos, mistakes made, that's why we're practicing, to make sure that we've got it all squared away, because you can't practice every play every day," said head coach Jeff Tedford. "There's different situations each day. Today was more third down emphasis, yesterday was first and second down. Today was more third down, more red zone, tomorrow will be everything, so today, there was some coaching going on, on third down stuff, and that's typically how it works."

After practice strength and conditioning coach Mike Blasquez worked exclusively with junior college transfer tailback C.J. Anderson, preparing him for what Tedford said would be a fairly good-sized role on third downs.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder out of Laney College has broad shoulders, a deep chest and a powerful lower body, perfectly suited for the role of third-down hammer.

"He's built low to the ground, he's powerful, so absolutely," Tedford said.

In the now more strictly-limited portion of practice open to the media, placekicker Giorgio Tavecchio was stout on field goals, missing just one try from 42 yards out between the hashes and hitting three straight from 40 yards right, 40 yards center and 42 yards right.

"Yeah, field goals were fine, his kickoffs were good," said Tedford, who confirmed that Tavecchio will also handle kickoffs on Saturday, even though Vince D'Amato took kickoff reps at the beginning of practice.

In 2010, Tavecchio averaged 64.8 yards per kickoff with four touchbacks and no drives hit out of bounds. Over the past three seasons, he has seen his kickoff stats improve consistently, elevating his average distance from 56.6 yards in 2008 to 58.1 in 2009. He has reduced his out-of-bounds kicks from four in 2008 to one in 2009, and the aforementioned goose egg in 2010, while upping his touchbacks from none to one to four.

Tavechio wil travel with the team to Candlestick Park - site of Saturday's TicketCity Battle By the Bay - on Friday for a helmets-only practice, and will make final adjustments to the swirling winds on Candlestick Point.

Also observable during the first portion of practice was an uptick in volume from the coaching staff, though Tedford said that there has been no change in intensity now that the season opener is approaching.

"We just try to concentrate day-to-day. We've got to make sure and get them fresh, with two hard days of practice," Tedford said. "We've got to get them fresh and get them ready for game time. They're ready to play. They're ready to suit up against somebody else and get the game started.

"I didn't think they needed to be motivated today. They were fine. They had a good practice, and tomorrow we'll be in shells then we back off with some helmets on Friday and be ready to go."

With Tedford playing against his old boss and his alma mater, and with last season being the first sub-.500 campaign under his watch, he maintained that this opener is no more important than any previous season kickoff.

"I don't know about that. Every opener is big. Every opener is big. There hasn't been one yet that hasn't been big," Tedford said. "Last season was last season. We can't do anything about last season now. We can just prepare to play this game. We don't run around here talking about, 'Oh, last season, last season,' no. I mean, yeah, there's some motivation that last year wasn't what we wanted, and it wasn't good enough, obviously, so the motivation to do better, absolutely, but we're not going in the locker room yelling, 'Hey, because of last year,' and that's not it. That's over. This is about right now. We've got a lot of guys on this team who weren't even here last year."

Notebook
-- Defensive end Ernest Owusu wore a yellow jersey today, though Tedford said that he was "doing fine."

-- Freshman wide receiver Kaelin Clay took reps with the first string during early skeleton drills, and returned punts.



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