California Ranked No. 8 in Sports Illustrated Preseason Poll
Aug. 15, 2006
BERKELEY - The University of California is ranked No. 8 in Sports Illustrated's Preseason Poll for 2006. However, head coach Jeff Tedford and the Golden Bears simply continued with business as usual, completing their ninth day of preseason camp on Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
'[Preseason rankings and honors] are nice for our alumni and fans and for our former players who helped build us to where we are,' Tedford said. 'But we are not concerned with external expectations and predictions. We just focus internally.'
The Sports Illustrated capsule on the Golden Bears includes the lines: 'Lynch is a breakaway back who averaged 7.0 yards per carry over his first two seasons and should improve on the 1,246 yards he gained in 10 games last year. That could send Cal to a major bowl and Lynch to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.'
Cal opens its 2006 campaign on Sept. 2 at Tennessee in Knoxville.
The touted Golden Bear defense was clicking again in Tuesday's session. Senior cornerbacks Randy Bundy and Tim Mixon each had pass break-ups in the early portion of the two-hour plus practice. Sophomore linebacker Zack Follett also broke up a pass which almost turned into an interception. Redshirt freshman defensive back Virdell Larkins had the lone interception of the practice during seven-on-seven drills.
'The defense is always ahead in the early stages of camp,' Tedford said. 'It's all reaction; they have places that they go and there's not a ball involved. Plus right now, we have our first-string guys going against third-team offensive linemen and things like that. Once we get them molded together, get the starting group here [on offense] and the starting group there [on defense] and then go at it, then it's even. But it takes time for the offense to take time to get up to speed with the defense.'
The offense did have its moments, however. Sophomore quarterback Nate Longshore hit junior receiver Robert Jordan for a 20-yard strike and also connected with redshirt freshman tight end Cameron Morrah for a 20-yard reception. Morrah has continued to impress coaches with his speed and pass-catching. Junior tailback Marshawn Lynch also made his presence known, snaring multiple short-yardage passes across the middle during seven-on-seven drills.
Following the season opener against Tennessee on Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m. (PST) on ESPN, the Bears host Minnesota in their home opener on Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. on TBS. For ticket information, call 1-800-GO-BEARS.