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Banged-up Bears take it easy during final scrimmage

Staff Report
Thursday August 23, 2001

Five offensive starters sit out in Turlock; Echema ruled ineligible 


TURLOCK – With time growing short to their first game, the Cal football coaches kept it light for the team’s final scrimmage on Wednesday, with half of the day non-contact and most of the starters on the bench for the majority of the second half. 

Several key players were held out of the scrimmage all together, including offensive tackle Langston Walker. Walker, who missed most of last season with a broken left ankle, hasn’t practiced all week since spraining the same ankle last week. But the senior is expected to be ready for the opener against Illinois on Sept. 1, as are fellow linemen Mark Wilson and Scott Tercero, who were also held out of Wednesday’s practice. 

Another position with several players hurt is wide receiver. Projected starters Derek Swafford and Geoff McArthur have both been hampered by nagging injuries and didn’t take part in Wednesday’s scrimmage. Added to the infirmary list this week were Chase Lyman, who had an appendectomy on Monday, and Chad Heydorff, who pulled a hamstring during the scrimmage. 

“I’m a little nervous,” head coach Tom Holmoe said of the wideout position. “Just the fact that we have a couple of players, such as Geoff McArthur and Swafford, who could quite possibly be the two starters, have been kind of in and out. Part of it is that we want to make sure that they are healthy to go, but they’ve both looked excellent in camp. They’re kind of nursing small injuries.” 

With contact limited during the first half, tailback Joe Igber ran eight times. But the junior didn’t do much during the contact portion of practice, and for good reason. Keeping Igber healthy is of paramount importance to the Bears, as he is now the only tailback who has played a college game left on the depth chart. With backup Joe Echema having been ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA last week for failing to finish enough credits last year and redshirt freshman Michael Sparks suffering a shoulder injury earlier this week, the only tailbacks left behind Igber are true freshmen Terrell Williams and Will Scott, who were teammates last year at Hoover High (San Diego). But Holmoe isn’t concerned that Igber isn’t getting much contact in practice. 

“Joe’s timing is good,” Holmoe said. “He isn’t going to get that much better with 10 more reps. There is no sense getting him tackled more than he needs to be. In the Pac-10, the same thing is going on with Ken Simonton (Oregon State), Maurice Morris (Oregon) and DeShaun Foster (UCLA).” 

Once the team went to live action, quarterback Kyle Boller completed 2-of-4 passes for 31 yards, including a 21-yarder to Charon Arnold. Freshman Williams was the leading ground gainer with eight yards on three carries.  

During the special teams portion of the scrimmage, Cal’s three field goal kickers - Jeremy Hershey, Mark Jensen and Tyler Fredrickson - were a perfect 8-for-8. Jensen, the Bears’ returning starter, was the most active, as he was good on efforts from 27, 33, 38 and 45 yards. 

Defensively, cornerback James Bethea had a big afternoon with five tackles and one pass broken up. Tackle Daniel Nwangwu also had three tackles, including a sack, and end Tom Canada had a sack among his two tackles. Safety Dewey Hale had the day’s only turnover with an interception of a Holtfreter pass.  

“We had an objective in the practice. We did some very controlled stuff,” Holmoe said. “There was some hot and cold, but this was more of a practice than a scrimmage.”  

NOTES: Saturday’s practice, originally scheduled for Witter Field on campus, has been moved to Encinal High School in Alameda. The team will resume practice on Witter Tuesday afternoon. Witter has undergone some re-sodding and re-seeding while the team was away in Turlock, and the extra few days should help the new grass take root.