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September 21, 2011

Execution is the focus for offensive line



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Read up on Cal's special teams troubles HERE.

BERKELEY -- Starting center Dominic Galas spent extra time on Tuesday morning working on his shotgun snaps to junior quarterback Zach Maynard. Slow, floating or errant shotgun snaps have been a bugaboo for the California offensive linemen in his first year as the starter, but now, the preseason is over. This weekend, Galas, Maynard and the rest of the Bears are traveling up north to face off against Washington, the team that put the final nail in the coffin of head coach Jeff Tedford's first losing season in Berkeley last year.

"It's not so much about payback," said Tedford, who's team went 1-4 on the road to all but seal its fate in 2010. "It's a different team this year, a different team for them, it's a new season, but yeah, I think that feeling that we had was the first time that we ever felt that, so that really created the motivation for the offseason and things like that, so it's one more game. It's a conference game. It's really important to be prepared, all the motivation should be there for the simple reason that it's our opportunity to play this week, and once you get between the lines, the motivation is to execute."

Execution has been a sore spot for Cal this year. The Bears have been penalized more than any other team in the conference save for Colorado, getting hit with 26 flags for 234 yards and coming in third for average number of penalty yards per game. Of those penalties, half have come against the offensive line.

Asked whether the penalties and Galas' snaps are a concern, Tedford grimly answered, "Yes. Just keep work, keep practicing, keep working. It's like any position. Anything that needs to improve takes constant practice and experience, so there are no special remedies for it, besides just continuing to practice."

Galas will have to contend with defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, a 6-foot-3, 333-pound senior run stuffer who earned All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention last year and made five stops during the Huskies' 16-13 victory in Berkeley last year.

"He has a pretty big test every day, playing against Moala," Tedford said, referring to true freshman nose tackle Viliami Moala. "A 350-pounder is a 350-pounder. They're both about that size, so he gets good work against Moala and [Aaron] Tipoti and those guys every day."

Tedford added that junior Aaron Tipoti -- who sat out last week -- will start against Washington.

The offensive line will have its work cut out for it at Husky Stadium, which is expected to be the loudest venue the Bears have played in this season. To prepare for the decibels, Tedford and staff cranked up the volume on the speakers around Witter Rugby Field to the highest volume they've cranked them yet.

"It's really important that both days here -- Tuesday and Wednesday -- that we really have it loud so that we can prepare for what we're going to be into," Tedford said.

One player conspicuously absent from the proceedings was freshman wide receiver Kaelin Clay. Tedford said that Clay would not practice at all this week.

Redshirt freshman defensive back Michael Coley was on crutches and wearing a boot on his right foot, sprained during the opening kickoff of last Saturday's win over Presbyterian. He will likely not play this week.

True freshman Brendan Bigelow, however, will play, and should see an increased role.

Echoing the words of special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk from earlier in the week, Tedford said that his four-star tailback will return kickoffs this week in Seattle.

"Yeah. We'll see as the season goes on, what fits for him," Tedford said of Bigelow's place in the offense. "We'll see how that plays into it, but we just continue to get his feet wet. I don't think he's ready for the whole thing quite yet, but each week, he continues to learn and improve."

With the continued absence of Clay, there is a chance Bigelow could play a bigger role in the receiving game from the slot position. Another possibility - should he make enough progress - is athlete Darren Ervin. Ervin's father picked a good day to watch practice, visiting from Lamar, Tex., as his son strapped on pads and a white jersey for the first time in weeks, having finally recovered from what Tedford called a deep quad tear. Ervin took reps at kickoff return alongside Bigelow, Stefan McClure, Josh Hill and Mike Manuel.



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