Spring scrimmage gets off to explosive start
BERKELEY, Calif. -- Cal football's new offense paid off quickly Saturday when DeSean Jackson took an inside screen pass from Nate Longshore and went 70 yards for a touchdown on the Bears' first play in a controlled scrimmage at Memorial Stadium.
"I think it went just fine," head coach Jeff Tedford said afterward. "We got a chance to learn some of the concepts. The biggest thing was adjusting to the shotgun. We'll take a look this summer how much of that we want to do and how much of the traditional offense we want to do."
Tedford's first four Cal teams were fairly potent. The Bears finished 26th in the country last season in total offense, ninth in rushing offense.
Tedford wanted more following an 8-4 record in 2005, finished off with a Big Game victory over Stanford and a 35-28 triumph over Brigham Young in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl.
Enter new offensive coordinator Mile Dunbar from Northwestern. His Wildcats last year were only the second team in Big Ten history to average 500 or more yards a game, running many plays out of the spread offense.
All that remains is to select a quarterback out of four candidates to run the show. Longshore is in the lead to reclaim the job he lost in the season opener last year when he broke an ankle in the first half against Sacramento State.
Also in the hunt are senior junior college transfer Joe Ayoob, who started nine games last year, and senior Steve Levy, at the helm for the final two games. Ayoob was restricted to holding for placekicks in the scrimmage because of a high ankle sprain.
"We'll make a decision on who's best for us offensively," Tedford said about the preparation for the Sept. 2 opener at Tennessee. "Nate will take the first snaps of the fall, but it really doesn't matter. Joe sat out today but did a great job throughout the spring and will definitely be in the mix during the fall."
Later in the scrimmage, Longshore connected with tight end Craig Stevens for an 11-yard score. Redshirt freshmen, quarterback Kyle Reed and tight end Cameron Morrah, teamed up for a five-yard scoring play.
Running back Marshawn Lynch ran into the end zone from three and five yards out. His backup, Justin Forsett, scored from 11 yards out.
"We have the personnel to run the new offense well," Longshore said. "This definitely will be an asset for our team. We're learning it slowly, but were getting a grasp of it. It can only get better."
Using Lynch the way Southern California utilized Reggie Bush also will be a big part of the Cal offense.
"We want to throw different types of passes to Marshawn as well as hand him the ball from the spread and create running lanes," Dunbar said. "We want to get him out in space where he can do his thing one-on-one against matchups."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press