As head coach Jeff Tedford had eluded on Monday, senior Darian Hagan and sophomore Marc Anthony won the starting cornerback spots heading into the opener, with senior Bryant Nnabuife and freshman Steve Williams being the respective backups. Throughout fall camp, Tedford praised Anthony's improved play. As it turns out, it was good enough for a starting position.
“[Anthony] has done a great job,” said Tedford. “He has done a great job in all areas, the run game, tackling well, and great cover guy. He has had a very solid camp.”
With the depth chart set at corner, Tedford said that the primary nickel back would be either Nnabuife or sophomore Josh Hill, who made the move from cornerback to safety during camp. Williams figures to be an active part of the rotation.
While not completely set in stone, the safeties will feature junior Sean Cattouse at free and senior Chris Conte at strong. Junior D.J. Campbell will back Cattouse, and Josh Hill will back Conte.
On that side of the ball, the first unit linebackers have been set, with no real surprises. Senior Keith Browner and junior Mychal Kendricks will be the outside backers, while senior Mike Mohamed and junior D.J. Holt will man inside.
The defensive line figures to have a heavy playing rotation, but the first unit is still in a bit of competition. Senior Cameron Jordan has had one defensive end spot nailed down, but the other spot is still open with freshman DeAndre Coleman and junior Ernest Owusu ahead of junior Trevor Guyton. That end position, however, will still be evaluated throughout the week. At nose tackle, sophomore Kendrick Payne is the starter, but senior Derrick Hill (who recently returned from a battle with gout) and sophomore Aaron Tipoti will get heavy playing time.
On the offensive side of the ball, the biggest news involves the offensive line. While sophomore Matt Summers-Gavin has been out for much of fall camp with a bone bruise, Tedford used the opportunity to give sophomores Brian Schwenke and Dominic Galas reps at guard. He definitely liked what he saw; enough to give strong consideration to move Summers-Gavin to right tackle when he is back healthy.
“[Summers-Gavin] is coming along,” said Tedford. “But he has not practiced yet. Unless he starts practice by the beginning of the week, he won't play. When he comes back, he will probably move to right tackle.”
Tedford alluded to the depth on the interior of the line as to a reason why Summers-Gavin will get a very strong look at tackle.
At wide receiver, Tedford reiterated that freshman Keenan Allen and junior Marvin Jones will be the starters at wide receiver, with senior Jeremy Ross being the primary No. 3 guy. Tedford mentioned that it took “three days” of camp to note that Allen was going to be a starter.
“Big, strong, fast, great hands, great body control,” said Tedford, describing Allen.
The rest of the wide receiver rotation will include junior Michael Calvin, junior Alex Lagemann, and junior Coleman Edmond. As for the freshman wide receivers, Tedford scaled back and said that Kaelin Clay and Tevin Carter will be “a part of the mix” but did not throw out the idea of redshirting them.
At running back, Tedford hopes that junior Shane Vereen will be caught up to speed by the beginning of next week, but has been pleased with Vereen's development after missing much of camp with a hamstring injury. As for the backups, sophomore Isi Sofele is the number two back, and figures to get plenty of touches. Sophomore Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson will be the third back and freshman Dasarte Yarnway will be fourth. At fullback, sophomore Eric Stevens will start, but junior Will Kapp – after missing much of camp with a concussion – is fullback “1A.”
As for special teams, Sofele and Conte will be the kickoff returners, with Ross as the punt returner. Junior Giorgio Tavecchio is the placekicker, but he is starting to get a bit of a push at kickoffs from freshman Jed Barnett.
In other news regarding practice, freshman David Wilkerson – who Tedford said would get playing time as a backup outside linebacker – has had to sit out practice as he awaits clearance from the NCAA clearinghouse.
The new Pac-10 logo – in Cal colors – has been painted on the field for the 2010 season. The logos will also make an appearance on all of Cal's uniforms this year, as well.
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