BERKELEY — Cal held its first post-training camp practice Monday night at Memorial Stadium, as the Bears prepare for the arrival of Michigan State for Saturday's season opener. When camp started three weeks ago, Bay Area News Group posed the top five questions Cal had to resolve before the beginning of the season. It's time to see if those questions were answered.
1. Who will be the starting quarterback? This question was going to be answered because somebody had to line up behind center Saturday. But coach Jeff Tedford had said he may not name a starter until after the game against the Spartans because he wanted to continue to evaluate Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley in a game situation.
But Tedford was convinced enough that Riley had won the starting job to name him the No. 1 signal-caller last week. Riley struggled during the early portion of camp but came on during the second half. Longshore's camp went in the other direction — he started off hot but seemed to cool off when Riley heated up. Tedford said that Longshore will play against the Spartans and the position continually will be evaluated throughout the season.
2. Have the Bears cured what ailed them during the second half of last season? The Bears seem certain that whatever chemistry or leadership problems plagued them during last year's meltdown are behind them. Training camp practices were spirited, and players such as center Alex Mack and linebacker Zack Follett have emerged as leaders.
But it's a little easier to be touchy-feely with one another when a game hasn't been played and adversity hasn't struck. It remains to be seen how this team will handle the down times. Don't forget that the Bears insisted team chemistry was better than ever heading into last year.
3. Do the Bears have any productive receivers? Redshirt freshman Michael Calvin appears to be the only sure thing. Talented Florida transfer Nyan Boateng looked terrific at the start of camp but fell off a bit and doesn't appear to be in the mix to start. Calvin should be joined in the starting lineup by sixth-year senior Sean Young and senior LaReylle Cunningham, each of whom has seen only spot time throughout his career. It may be just a matter of time before true freshman Marvin Jones starts getting a lot of reps.
4. Is sophomore Jahvid Best healthy enough to be an every-down back? Best may not carry the ball 20 times a game, but the Bears are hoping to have him heavily involved in the offense in a variety of ways. Best should catch passes out of the backfield, line up wide and return kicks and punts. The Bears are confident Best's hip injury is behind him, but they've still rested him a lot in camp. But he's taken his share of hits with full pads on without any complications.
5. Will the defense improve in the 3-4 alignment? All indications are that it will. The scheme has allowed Cal's talented linebackers to make more plays all over the field, and the Bears are getting strong play from their defensive linemen.
Contact Jonathan Okanes at firstname.lastname@example.org.