With Tuesday night's "mock game" in Memorial Stadium bringing fall camp to a near close, the California Golden Bears released their two-deep depth chart. Speaking to a mid-day media luncheon Wednesday - in between bites of baked beans and barbecued chicken - Coach Tedford gave his thoughts on the team's roster decisions and his outlook for the upcoming season.
Of all the new names on the depth chart, perhaps the most surprising was true freshman Bryce Treggs at wide receiver - opposite Keenan Allen. Coming into fall camp, it was widely assumed that this role would belong to Maurice Harris, who had an impressive performance throughout spring Camp.
Harris is on the depth chart to play, just behind Treggs.
"I think we knew going in that a few of the freshmen would have to contribute this year," Tedford said. "[Treggs] has just gotten more comfortable, day in and day out. He brings a lot of skill to the position - speed, elusiveness. He catches the ball really well, and has done a really nice job of comprehending the offense."
Joining Treggs in the wide receiver rotation will be fellow freshmen Chris Harper; Harper is listed as Keenan Allen's backup. .
Kenny Lawler will redshirt, Tedford said, while the fifth of the five freshmen receivers - Cedric Dozier - will move to cornerback. According to Tedford, Dozier asked for the move because he saw the opportunity for more playing time there.
Another position battle during fall camp was at right guard, where Chris Adcock will remain as the starter. "He's done a nice job. He's the backup center as well," Tedford added - a multi-position ability that is often the key to securing a starting position with the offensive line.
At inside linebacker, the starters will be Robert Mullins and J.P. Hurrell. When asked about Hurrell's performance in fall camp, Tedford said, "He's played well. He's been here a long time. He's a very aggressive guy. With a couple of those other guys not ready to play yet, he's taken that over."
Overall, Tedford felt quite comfortable with the makeup of this year's roster, saying that all the units looked solid.
"I like our team a lot. It's been challenging through camp; we've been banged up here and there, but guys have worked hard through all of it."
"I think we've come together as a team through camp...I'm anxious to see us play. You never know until you get out there, but the guys have worked hard - and they're anxious to play."
Tedford named the returning experience at quarterback, the depth at tailback, and the emergence of Richard Rodgers as things he particularly liked.
Quarterback Zach Maynard's play steadied a bit in the second half of the 2011 season, and Coach Tedford said today that he felt Maynard would continue in that direction. .
"If you look at the last half of the season, [Maynard] was the in the top 13 [ratings of quarterbacks] in the country. And he was the only one in that top 13 who was in his first year in his offense," Tedford said.
"I think he's really confident, understands his reads and where he's going with the football."
In the hour that Tedford spoke today, depth chart news was not the only topic he touched on.
When asked whether or not the offensive line's penchant for penalties had improved any, ) Tedford replied, "The best you can do is simulate a game, but it still comes down to focus…In practice, you typically don't get a lot of [penalties]."
Another area of difficulty the offensive line (the center) faced last year was shotgun snaps; Tedford reported they are now more consistent when delivered by the team's newly appointed starting center, Brian Schwenke.
For the coaching staff, yesterday's mock game in Memorial Stadium was not so much a final roster evaluation as it was an overall test run. The team spent Tuesday night simulating game conditions and testing whether everything in the stadium worked. The good news was that there were no major problems, except for a couple of malfunctions with the 25-second play clock.
With the season opener now only a week away, Tedford was asked if he thought there would be any extra emotion with the return to Memorial.
"[For the team and staff] I assume it'll be just like any other game. Every game you go into, the butterflies and the anxiousness are there."
He added that he is, "…looking forward to the new setting. It's important that we bring a product to the field that's going to be exciting for the fans. Over ten years here, [Memorial] has been a really special place to play."
Still, Tedford downplayed the effect of "New" Memorial, reiterating that while the new facilities are certainly impressive, they cannot by themselves win games. "The team must still perform.".
While Mustafa Jalil, Jason Gibson and David Wilkerson are not listed on the two deep for the opening game vs. Nevada, Tedford said that they would be in the mix as soon as they are completely healthy.
Though Nick Forbes is listed as a backup inside linebacker, the staff sees him as on the same tier as the starters.
Austin Hinder is currently (internally) listed as the third string quarterback. The team will add freshman quarterback Zach Kline to the travelling squad to keep him involved in the game-prep and execution process.
Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt is, "… still a few weeks away," Tedford said. Fortt has been taking mental reps in practice, and the team is monitoring his physical rehabilitation closely.
In addition to Harper, Treggs and Powe, one other freshman will see important playing time - punter Cole Leininger, the team's starting punter.
H-back/tight end Maximo Espitia will contribute on offense, but no freshmen are expected to play this year on defense. Freddie Tagaloa, Matt Cochran, Christian Okafor and Steven Moore will continue to rotate in and out at practice, but it now seems likely they will not play.
Tedford still expects right guard Dominic Galas to be back (after rehab) at some point this season.
On the season' scheduled opponents, Tedford repeated phrases readers have heard for years - a comment that does not diminish its truth: "They all are [competitive]. Every game is like that. There are no weeks where you think even if we don't play our best, we have a good chance to win. Not in our conference, not anymore."
The team will finally and permanently re-locate to Memorial Stadium on August 24th. Generations of Cal fans will mark that date with some pleasure.
Game preparations for Nevada began Wednesday afternoon.