Saturday, April 10, 2010


California Team Report

Yahoo! Sports

Mar 25, 1:40 am EDT

Entering 2010, expectations will be lower than they were for 2009, and that might be a good thing for the Bears. Cal failed to match its potential last season in a disappointing 8-5 season.
Because Cal achieved less than its talent should have afforded, coach Jeff Tedford is focusing as much on individual toughness as he is on schemes and position changes this spring.

After reviewing the up-and-down 2009 season, which began with three encouraging wins and thoughts of a Rose Bowl and ended with two discouraging losses and a sixth-place finish, Tedford decided the Bears players just did not compete hard enough in their one-on-one battles with opponents. And to win as a team, you have to win key individual matchups.
Toward that end, Tedford is making nearly everything a competition this spring, whether on-campus scavenger hunts, or rewards and penalties for performance in one-on-one drills in practice. The team just needs to be better at beating the man across the line, which means more scratching and clawing and toughness to get every individual advantage.

In that vein, Tedford has opened up the competition for the starting quarterback spot, even though Kevin Riley will be back after starting all 13 games last season. Riley admittedly was inconsistent last season, often faltering when opposing defenses mounted a pass rush, and the Bears’ success and failure seemed to correlate directly with how well Riley played. Tedford hopes that making Riley compete to hold on to his job will translate into a better competitiveness in each game during the 2010 season.

The departure of Jahvid Best to the NFL is the loss that gets the most attention, but with Shane Vereen back to capably fill the tailback spot, the more significant losses were defensive end Tyson Alualu and cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson.

In fact, the defense in general is the biggest issue for Cal this spring. This will be the first spring under Tedford in which Bob Gregory will not be the defensive coordinator. Gregory left in February, reportedly for personal reasons, and joined to staff at Nevada, and Tedford hired Clancy Pendergast, who was the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator when they went to the Super Bowl two years ago.

He has the chore of improving a defense that did a poor job of defending the pass last season, and he will have to do it despite the loss of Cal’s best cover man (Thompson) and best pass-rusher (Alualu). Two things about Pendergast make him a good fit. First of all, he has a reputation for working well with defensive backs, and the Bears’ secondary, which was problem last season, faces even greater challenges now. Second, Pendergast employs a more attacking style of defense than Gregory did, and Tedford had suggested often last season that Cal needed to put more pressure on the opposing quarterback.

Pendergast also needs to find several new linebackers for the 3-4 defense, and he might have to wait until next fall and the arrival of some highly-rated freshmen to find some starters there.

Adjusting to a new defensive coordinator will be a major aspect of spring practice, which is split into two segments. The first segment of five practices ended March 19, and the second session, following spring break, will begin March 30.

Spring Objectives: Although four starters in the offensive line return, there will be a lot of juggling of positions to find the best positions for each. Matt Summers-Gavin, for example, was a starting right guard last season, but has spent some of spring playing left tackle.

The quarterback position is the one that is most in need of improvement, and Kevin Riley will have to fight to retain his No. 1 spot in competition with No. 2 quarterback Beau Sweeney and No. 3 Brock Mansion. Even if Riley wins that battle as expected, he needs to improve his mechanics and his ability to perform in the face of a pass rush.

On defense the battle for the two cornerback spots will be heated and significant. Cal would love for Darian Hagan to re-emerge as a starting cornerback after he won the job at the beginning of last season. But his playing time declined as the season wore on as his on-field play worsened and his off-field actions retarded his progress. Josh Hill and Bryant Nnabufie began the spring as the starting corners, but neither is secure in his position. Opponents simply hammered the side opposite Thompson all season long, and none of the other corners reacted well to the ball in the air.

Three of the four linebacker spots are open around inside backer Mike Mohamed, and any one of a number of players are fighting for those spots. That competition will continue into the fall.
Finding a new starting fullback and backups at wide receiver and tailback are also significant issues, but not as significant as the concerns at defensive back.

Building Blocks: Shane Vereen showed his value when he started the final four games of the season after Jahvid Best sustained a concussion. In fact, some believe the Bears were better with Vereen as their No. 1 tailback. He averaged 141.5 yards over those four games, and showed durability as well.

Kevin Riley showed flashes of being a good Pac-10 quarterback, but he also had days in which he gave games away. He has the tools, and the Bears are hoping it all falls into place in his senior season. The team’s success will depend on how well Riley performs. In any case, he will need to produce a lot of points, because the defense is likely to be young, inconsistent and vulnerable.

Inside linebacker Mike Mohamed was an all-conference player last season and led the Pac-10 in tackles. A versatile player who can stop the run, get a sack or intercept a pass, Mohamed’s best attribute is his intuition and a ability to make big plays, something the bears need more. But he will be surrounded by inexperienced linebackers.

DE Cameron Jones has the look of a star, and he could be as dominating as Tyson Alualu was last season if things fall into place. For one thing, the Bears need to do something to prevent Jones from being double teamed as much as he was last season. That will require production from the outside linebackers, and that position is unsettled.

Safety Sean Cattouse needs to act as the anchor for a secondary, which is the key to the defense but which also has serious questions at both cornerback spots.

Quote To Note: “Something needs to happen. I need to play better for us to win games. (Coach Jeff Tedford) is just giving the other guys an opportunity if I don’t step up. It definitely keeps me motivated.”—QB Kevin Riley, to the Contra Costa Times, about understanding why he has to win his job again despite starting all 13 games in 2009.


2010 Outlook: Cal should be able to score points if QB Kevin Riley improves his consistency. But with all the questions on defense, including a new defensive coordinator, it appears the Bears will be expected to finish in the middle of the Pac-10 and are unlikely to get a preseason ranking. The Bears are expecting a lot from their highly-rated recruiting class, and several of those players could be starters by the end of next season. If they can fill a number of holes, the Bears could exceed expectations, but the problems in the secondary probably preclude a conference title. The most significant of the Cal schedule changes for 2010 was moving the game against Stanford from Dec. 4 to Nov. 20.

Top Newcomers:

RB Trajuan Briggs—A freshman who enrolled at Cal during the winter, Briggs de-committed from USC late in the recruiting process before signing with Cal. The Bears like to use two tailbacks and the competition for the second running back behind Shane Vereen is wide open. Some say Briggs reminds them of Marshawn Lynch, but Briggs is not as big as Lynch yet.

RB Dasartay Yarnway—The highly regarded back redshirted 2009 as a freshman because of injuries, but he should get playing time in 2010.

Roster Report:

• RB Shane Vereen was pretty beat up after last season, and is not expected to get much work in the spring. He came out of the season with a meniscus tear in his knee as well as shoulder and rib problems.

Running Backs

Coach - Ron Gould

Trajuan Briggs (Fr., TB), Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson (Jr., TB), Nico Dumont (RFr., FB), Will Kapp (Jr., FB), Isi Sofele (So., TB), Eric Stevens (So., FB), John Tyndall (Jr., FB), Shane Vereen (Jr., TB), Dasarte Yarnway (RFr., TB), Langston Jackson

The Bears lost both of their 2009 backfield starters with the departures of TB Jahvid Best and FB Brian Holley but are confident they can replace the productive duo. Best started 19 of the 31 contests he competed in during three seasons at Cal. He earned a second-team All-American selection by College Football News and the second of his two first-team All-Pac-10 honors as a 2008 sophomore when he rushed for 1,580 yards (No. 2 on Cal's single-season list) and a school-record-tying 15 rushing touchdowns. He finished his career ranked tied for third on Cal's all-time list for rushing TDs (29), as well as tied for fourth in total TDs (39) and seventh in rushing yards (2,668).

Shane Vereen, who started the final four games last season after Best suffered a season-ending injury against Oregon State on Nov. 7, is most likely his heir apparent at tailback. Vereen earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors last season despite coming off the bench to spell Best for most of the season's first nine games. He finished as the team's leading rusher with 952 yards on 183 carries (5.2 ypr) and equaled Best's 12 rushing touchdowns. Vereen had a career day to lead the Bears to a Big Game win at Stanford, carrying the ball 42 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 566 yards on 108 carries after taking as the team's starter.

Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson (31 rushes, 226 yards, 1 TD) and Isi Sofele (12 rushes, 82 yards, 1 TD) saw limited action in 2009 but are expected to compete for a spot alongside Vereen for a Cal rushing attack that has traditionally shared the bulk of the workload between two tailbacks. Trajuan Briggs, Langston Jackson and Dasarte Yarnway are the team's other tailbacks this spring and should get a good look with one of Tedford's primary spring goals developing a complimentary player to Vereen. Both Briggs and Yarnway missed their respective 2009 seasons with injuries, with the early enrollee Briggs going down with an ankle injury in an early season prep game and Yarnway suffering a knee injury during training camp of his true freshmen season.

Pepperdine picks up pieces and rebuilds

Published: Thursday, April 8, 2010

The men’s basketball team is looking for a fresh start with familiar faces this summer, and really, the only way is up.
After a dismal two-and-a-half months of West Coast Conference (WCC) play, in which the young Waves (7-24, 3-11) lost their last 12 games by an average of 17.8 points a contest, the season mercifully came to an end. They suffered defeat in their first-round WCC Tournament game, a lost to rival Loyola Marymount, 87-84.

“We were extremely disappointed in how some of the older, veteran guys finished the season,” Associate Head Coach Marty Wilson said. “We should have shot the ball and defended better in terms of one-on-one matchups. It was individual pride that let us down at the end of the season.”

According to, a top and influential basketball rating Web site, Pepperdine finished the season ranked 289th out of a possible 347 teams this season. The Waves were near the bottom in turnover ratio, effective defensive field goal percentage (both 330th) and effective offensive field goal percentage (322th). Pepperdine was also one of the youngest teams in Division I (318th).

As a team, the Waves shot 39.4 percent for the year and 34 percent from three-point range— although a 1 percent improvement from last year, good only for last place in the WCC.

“We didn’t use the ‘youth’ excuse this year,” Wilson said. “It was more inexperience than anything else on our team.”

There were some post-season bright spots. Sophomore guard Keion Bell had one of the better statistical seasons for the Waves in recent memory, averaging 18.3 points, five rebounds and 3.2 assists in all 31 games this season. Those numbers were good enough for an All-WCC honorable mention, along with junior swingman Mychel Thompson.

Playing abroad and summer plans

The Waves will travel to Italy for 10 days at the beginning of May to start the summer offseason program. Basketball programs are allowed a trip overseas every four years— the Vance Walberg-led Waves took a trip to Switzerland in 2006. The team also gets an extra 10 practice days to prepare for the trip, which will be a good gauge for where the team is to start the offseason, Wilson said.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good taste of competition with some of the older teams [in Italy],” Wilson said. “It will be a good experience for us to practice before and get back on the court.”

After the trip, most players will stay close to campus and enroll in summer school, Wilson said. While the coaches cannot directly work with the players, they will still have specific offseason workout plans and basketball drills the coaches can monitor.

“This offseason, we need to get tougher mentally, individually and as a team,” Wilson said. “We focused a lot on getting physically stronger last summer, but we need to change the team’s mindset so that everything is competitive.”

A majority of the players will also compete in one of two Los Angeles-based college summer leagues. Last summer, Bell led one of the leagues in scoring, while Thompson and sophomore guard Lorne Jackson also performed well.
The leagues only allow two same-college players per team, and the usually high-scoring games feature very little defense, Wilson said.
“The summer leagues are both good and bad for our guys,” Wilson said. “It’s a five-on-five game of one-on-one.”

‘Harold’-ed recruit

The Waves are returning every player from last season, so only one new face can join them, and it’s a good one. Six-foot-7 Pasadena native Hector Harold committed to the Waves early on in his senior year. Harold is a top-50 small forward in the 2010 class, according to recruiting Web sites Scouts, Inc. and
“[Harold] is a very good all-around player,” Wilson said. “He’s not great at anything but very good [at] everything.”

Harold played his final two years of high school back East at Northfield Mount Hermon High School, a preparatory school in Connecticut, where he averaged 14 points and five rebounds per game. “The fact that he is from Southern California made it easy for us to get him,” Wilson said. “He wanted to be close to home and out of the snow back east.”

Offensive lineman Langston Walker re-signs with Oakland Raiders

By Steve Corkran

Oakland Tribune

Posted: 04/02/2010 08:20:35 PM PDT

The Raiders brought back offensive lineman Langston Walker on Friday in a move that gives coach Tom Cable another option to replace Cornell Green at right tackle.Walker, 30, joined the Raiders on Oct. 14 after being released by Buffalo and appeared in seven games.

Walker, 6-foot-8 and 365 pounds, was selected by the Raiders in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft and started 33 games through the 2007 season. He spent the 2008 and '09 seasons with the Bills.

Walker, a graduate of Bishop O'Dowd High and Cal, is expected to compete for the vacancy created by Green signing with the Bills along with Khalif Barnes and Erik Pears.