"As soon as he hit me I could hear it (the rib) crack," Allen said yesterday. "I couldn't breathe for a good ten seconds."
"He is such a tough guy," coach Jeff Tedford said. "He got hit in the rib and he continued to play in the game."
Allen said with a smile that it wasn't entirely his decision, "It was only first down, and they made me finish the drive."
He had only three receptions that game, but came back with six, five and nine in the final three games.
Not that Tedford is going to take any chances with Allen, who is the most important part of Cal's offense. The dynamic, 6-3, 210-pound, junior caught 144 passes for 1,833 yards and six touchdowns in his two-year career. Allen says his ankle has totally healed.
"The last couple of days I have felt fine," he said. "I haven't really tried to do too much on it. I definitely am full speed and 100 per cent. I got cleared by the doctor when I got back from L.A. (at Pac-12 Media Day.) †I feel 100 percent right now."
"He told me he's ready to go, we just have to make sure. Because at his position he runs a lot and takes a lot of reps. He is going to return punts. And he is going to have to do a lot things for us," Tedford said. "He is such a competitor. He is a guy who, once he broke his ankle, we had to put a harness on him. When he got his cast off and his boot off, he wanted to run right away and you just have to hold him back. He is such a strong competitor."
Allen, who probably will leave Berkeley for the NFL following this season, was an instant sensation when he played his first game two years ago, and who now says he is even better.
"Probably just my knowledge of the game is where I have improved the most," he said. "Knowing what spot to be in at the right time, knowing the play call and what the defense is throwing at us. I can recognize defenses, however they roll. I know when they're bluffing, I know when they're blitzing. And I know what's going on back there."
He also knows his quarterback. That position will again be filled by Allen's brother Zach Maynard. "Me and Zach - we have that connection now," Allen said. "I can look at him, he sees me and I see the same thing."
Allen attributes a lot his improvement to the tutelage of former Cal wide receiver Marvin Jones, who concluded a brilliant career last year. "He helped me out a lot with reading coverages," Allen said. "He helped so much with his knowledge of the game, running my routes. He taught me that at the top of your route, you've got to keep running instead of slowing down. He taught me a lot of little things."
As the only truly experienced receiver on the roster, Allen finds himself as the teacher rather than the taught. Tedford said he feels Allen will take to that assignment. "I think he has assumed a leadership role," the coach said. "He has kind of opened up. He has always been a little introverted, at least to the public. He has always been kind of a character behind closed doors. I think he has really assumed a role of leadership.
"Everyone follows him. Not only because he's a great player but because he's experienced and they understand that he can help them get better every single day. His work ethic is phenomenal. He is really a great role model for the young receivers. And he has assumed that role with five young receivers coming in. That is his role and I thnk he is doing a good job of that and the younger receivers really look up to him."
The Bears have a number of wide receivers on the roster, but few with any substantial experience. Senior Ross Bostock, junior Jackson Bouza (son of former wide receiver Matt Bouza), redshirt freshman Maurice Harris and sophomore Bryce McGovern, have all been in the program, but have four total receptions among them, three by Bouza and one by McGovern.
Added to that group are those five well-regarded freshmen, whom Tedford feels must be ready to contribute. Sorting through them will be priority in preseason camp.
"They will be in the rotation right away," Tedford said of the newcomers. "We are going to have at least three of them, and maybe all of them, play this year…..That is obviously a focal point for us at this camp, that these guys get up to speed of where they need to be."
As for Maynard, Tedford says he's ready for big things. "I think he's poised for a big year," he said of the transfer from Buffalo, who endured some growing pains in his first season leading the Cal offense. "I think he ended last year strong, winning three of the last four (regular season) games, that one loss coming to Stanford.
"I thought he played pretty well in that game. I think his ability to manage the game was a big difference. And I can tell you this last spring was a big difference, and opposed to the spring before we're much further ahead. He will give us the experience at quarterback we need. Not only him, but Allan Bridgford is ready to go. I feel great about Allan's progress. We have two very good quarterbacks there, and am very interested to see how they progressed over the summer."
And waiting the wings is true freshman Zach Kline, who enrolled in Cal last spring so he could participate in spring practice. "Zach Kline had an excellent spring for a young man coming in, trying to learn an offensive system," Teford said. "I thought he did a great job of that. But more importantly I think, are his leadership qualities. The way he earned the team's respect in a short period of time really says a lot about him. And he is going to continue to grow and develop. I think he is a very good football player and a great young man. I think he is going to be a great leader for this team."