August 4, 2007
Burning Questions for Fall Ball
Every season, something big happens in Fall Ball. Someone gets hurt, someone earns a starting nod, someone unexpected comes to the forefront to take the spotlight. What will happen this year is anyone's guess. For all the things that people do know about the Cal program, there are always the unknowns heading into every new beginning. Here are just some of them.
Who is going to be on the island opposite Syd'Quan Thompson?
All off-season, California head coach Jeff Tedford did not sugarcoat it one bit when pressed on what he felt was Cal's biggest question mark heading into the regular season. With Pac-10 defensive player of the year Daymeion Hughes now in the National Football League with the Indianapolis Colts, and memories of last season's debacle in Knoxville still fresh in the memories of many, Tedford emphasized over and over again the importance of finding a quality cornerback to line up opposite sophomore Syd'Quan Thompson, a returning Freshman All-American.
Youngsters like Darian Hagan and Robert Peele, a freshman and sophomore respectively, and even veteran safety Brandon Hampton are just some of the names being thrown out there as potential starters come September 1 against Tennessee. Due to the fact that even after a full go around in Spring ball, plus workouts all summer, no clear-cut player emerged as an athlete who will head the chase. That's why most observers of the program are calling this competition the most highly contested the Bears have had in years.
Losing Tim Mixon days before the start of last season was definitely an unexpected and crucial blow to the Cal defense, but with the dominant play of Hughes and the progression that Thompson made throughout the year, the Bears' secondary undoubtedly made huge strides in 2006 under first-year defensive back coach R. Todd Littlejohn.
Since Tedford has taken over the program in 2002, the quality of athletes on the field every Saturday has gotten better and better each season. The student-athletes in the secondary are no different. Last season was in essence the culmination of years of recruiting under Tedford to grab guys who were ready for Division I ball and it showed on the field.
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