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August 23, 2010

Calm Before the Storm

BERKELEY- As camp winds down, the Golden Bears enjoyed the calm before the storm Sunday as they lightly prepared for the final scrimmage of fall camp set for Monday.

"Today was more about getting ready for game situations," said Tedford. "You have to get guys on the field with communication. Going from offense to defense to punt team and punt returns; all that type of thing. Just every situation you can think of you try and make sure you understand that they have to be heads up and aware at all times because the game can change at any time and you may have to be called on."

Tedford has said numerous times throughout camp that he will use more freshmen in 2010 than any of his previous years in Berkeley. One name that continues the pop up in post-practice interviews is tight end Jacob Wark. In his first camp at Cal, Jacob is embracing the experience and the wisdom passed down by those around him.

"It's been a great experience. I thought it was a little overwhelming at first but all the tight ends and coach Jeff Genyk brought me in and other tight ends - Anthony Miller, Spencer Ladner, all the older guys - gave me the pointers," said Wark. "I'm going to improve everyday in practice."

Miller will be one of the premier tight ends in the Pac-10 entering his senior season and has been named on the preseason watch list for the Mackay Award. Wark talked about the influence the veteran has given him through camp.

"It's great having a mentor like that. He can teach me all the little things I need to work on and give me little pointers if it comes to a blocking scheme or running a pass route the right way. Having someone like that has helped me step up my game and make me become a better ball player in the future."

Throughout camp, the secondary and receivers have been engaged in tough competition. Wark acknowledged the defense's intensity and how it will pay off in the end.

"The defense, they're coming hard every play and that's going to prepare the team for the regular season," said Wark. "You've got to practice like you're going to play. We can't have anyone going half-assed out on the field. When it comes down to the wire, we'll be ready for the tough wins."

As Cal finishes camp and prepares for UC Davis, Wark knows his development as a tight end has only begun.

"The big thing is to improve everyday. Every snap of the ball, be the best player you can be, give everything you have," said the Portland native. "I'd like to improve in everything, I can always become better in every spot, but if I had to focus on one thing I think it would be my route running. Running crisper routes, being more consistent on my cutting; that's a big thing I'm going to be working on all season."

"We always need to improve everyday, and that's going to be the whole season," said Tedford Sunday. "No matter what happens, there's going to be times in games when things don't go perfectly and so you need to improve all the time. It's a process and we're going to keep trying to improve everyday."

Coach Tedford continued to say great things of Wark's progression during camp on Sunday.

"He came in physically prepared. He has the physical tools to play that position. He's very strong and so he came in as a real good blocker. Typically when guys come from high school, they aren't asked to be great blockers in high school, but he did a nice job. His ball skills are very impressive as well, so he can do it all."

"His deal, just as camp goes on with any freshmen, is to learn all their assignments. There's a lot that gets put on tight ends - from route running, to run blocking, to pass blocking, to protections - but he's done a real nice job. He's a very smart kid."

Miller, Ladner, Wark and sophomore Jarrett Sparks are all in the mix for playing time this season. Tedford is pleased with the depth he has at tight end.

"With Anthony, Ladner, Sparks and Wark; those are the top four," head Tedford after practice Sunday. "So yeah we can use two tight end sets and three tight end sets on the goal line and things like that."

Elsewhere in the offense, Tedford was more than ipressed with the young receiving corp's fall camp. He went on the say after practice that if any unit surprised him with their play in the last two weeks, it was the wide outs.

"I guess the unit with the young guys, the receivers, because that was an unknown. Those guys have really progressed quite a ways since day on; just understanding the offense."

Senior outside linebacker Keith Browner has all but sealed up a starting spot on the bears depth chart. After playing a number of positions in his tenure at Cal, Browner looks to have finally found a home.

"When we went to the three-four, that's when we put him at outside linebacker," said Tedford. "He's done well. It's a pretty good fit for him in that position because that's kind of a hybrid between outside linebacker and defensive end, so it's a good fit. He's athletic enough to move around in space but he's big enough to hold up on the run, play over tight ends if he needs to. He's done a good job and I'm anxious to see him play."

On the other side of the line, on of the areas that remains uncertain at the depth chart is the offensive line. With Matt Summers-Gavin getting injured on the second day of camp, many players have stepped up and Tedford remains open minded as to who will start at several positions on the line.

"Until Summers-Gavin gets back, it's still fairly open," said Tedford "The whole line except for Mitchell Schwartz and Chris Guarnero, after that there's a combination of different guys who can play left guard or right guard or right tackle."



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