The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
College football no longer takes extended breaks from the game. The season may end in December or January but preparing for the next game never ends. Teams now practice in the spring and summer, leaving just a few weeks of down time before preparation for the 2012 season begins in earnest in early August.
The College of San Mateo program is no exception. Except for a couple weeks off here and there, the Bulldogs have been preparing for the next season since the conclusion of last season.
Tim Tulloch, CSM defensive coordinator and co-head coach, said almost immediately following the end of the 2011 season there were 10 weeks of fundamental drills through the winter. After spring break, the Bulldogs get 15 practice days before the end of school and with the start of the summer school semester, the Bulldogs enjoy another couple weeks of practice before taking the rest of July off and opening camp Aug. 2.
Friday was the last summer practice of the season and the Bulldogs wrapped it up with the annual Blue-White Game. Two teams are “drafted” from among the team at large, mixing first stringers with guys who may not be back when CSM takes the field again in early August.
“What it does for us (coaches) is give us a chance to evaluate guys in game situations, pressure situations,” Tulloch said. “It’s great to see all these guys have to make plays. Can this quarterback lead the team down the field and finish, down four point with a minute 30 on the clock? We’re creating those types of things.”
Since so many players are rotating in and out of the game, it may take a while to notice a standout player but one thing is for sure — the Bulldogs’ defense appears to be as stingy as ever. With Bret Pollack, Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator and head coach, calling plays for both offenses, the defenses held the CSM offense in check as they combined for three first-half scores — two for the Blue Team late in the second quarter and the opening score by the White Team midway through the first.
The Blake Plattsmier-run White Team offense appeared to be in sync a little bit quicker than the Jon Willis-led Blue Team offense. Both saw extensive time playing for the Bulldogs last year and should provide leadership and confidence for the upcoming season.
The running game appeared to be ahead of the passing attack at this point of the game. Grayshirt freshman George Naufahu out of San Mateo High, showed a nice burst on 20-yard scoring run for the White Team in the first quarter. Another freshman runner, D.J. Peluso of El Camino, also showed some nice strength and strong inside running.
Defensively, former South City standout Rika Levi made his presence felt on a couple of series. The Blue Team defensive lineman had two sacks and would have had a third, if he wasn’t held. But Levi showed tremendous quickness for a guy who is 6-3, 350 pounds.
While the game, ultimately, is to prepare the current crop of CSM players for the 2012 campaign, it also serves as a reunion of sorts for the extended Bulldog family. Since most college programs are already in their summer dead time, it allows alumni to return to the place that allowed them to continue their careers at the four-year level. Hoko Fanaika, who recently signed with LSU, was in attendance, as was former Menlo-Atherton standout Vaughn Smith, who Tulloch said has already locked down the starting running back job at Carrollton College in Texas.
Even one of CSM biggest alums — Julian Edelman, former Woodside standout and current New England Patriot — makes it to the intrasquad game to relive memories.
“[The Blue-White Game] is a reward for all the stuff you worked on in practice,” Edelman said, who played in just one Blue-White Game, prior to the 2005 season, before heading off to Kent State University.
Edelman was a true freshman when he took his first snaps in this game seven years ago.
“It’s a little more complex (than the high school game),” Edelman said. “It was fun to go out and run around (playing football).”
Edelman said he tries to stop by whenever he is in town — not only to check in with his former coaches but also to use the world-class facilities.
“I like to use the field (to work out),” Edelman said. “You don’t get a view like this too often on the East Coast.
“[CSM] is kind of where it all started on my journey (to the NFL). It’s [my] roots.”
Adding a little intrigue to the game is the fact it is played without pads or helmets but that does not take away from the physicality. Guys were still running at full speed and were not shying away from running between the tackles.
Coaches were quick with the whistle but there was still a number of collisions between players — just the nature of the game.
“It’s as physical as you can get without being in pads,” Tulloch said. “The guys get up for it.”