Annual spring game ushers in new era for Golden Bears 

click to enlarge Cal running back C.J. Anderson is looking forward to his first spring game at Edwards Stadium. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images File Photo
  • Cal running back C.J. Anderson is looking forward to his first spring game at Edwards Stadium.

BERKELEY — It’s been a while since C.J. Anderson has seen a Cal spring football game — eight years to be precise. But come Saturday, that drought will end.

But the running back won’t be that mere spectator of seasons passed.

He’ll be suiting up.

“I’m gonna play like it’s a game,” said Anderson, no longer that 13-year-old Vallejo hopeful who religiously followed Cal’s football program growing up. “I know they’re my teammates. You can’t hurt them. But it’s football. It’s a physical sport.”

The scrimmage, which will be part of the Cal day and Cal spring football experience festivities, will see coach Jeff Tedford break his Golden Bears squad into blue and gold teams, finalizing Cal’s spring practices.

The “game” at Edwards Stadium, though geared toward familiarizing fans with this year’s team through prize giveaways and autographs, will grant players the opportunity to display their spring sows.

“I’m still trying to prove that I want the starting job over [fellow tailback] Isi [Sofele],” Anderson said. “We can make that impression like, ‘Man, we’re going to be a helluva football team.’ Or our fans can be like, ‘They’ve got some more work to do.’”

But not all of the Golden Bears will relish Saturday’s glamour of the gridiron.

Keenan Allen, Cal’s top wide receiver, underwent ankle surgery in March thus causing him to miss spring’s workouts along with Saturday’s scrimmage.

“It’s kind of hard out here watching the guys run around and practicing,” Allen said. “I wanna be out there. But I feel like it was much needed to give my legs a break. Just let my body recover.”

But despite being sidelined until summer workouts, Allen acknowledges the importance of now.

“Really, next season started in the spring,” he said, anticipating the season opener on Sept. 1 against Nevada at the renovated Memorial Stadium. “I can’t wait for that moment. I’m just trying to take it easy right now and get back ready.”

And Anderson, who has attended every Cal home opener since 2004, can’t wait either.

“So now, it’s my turn to get in an opener,” he said. “Last year, it was at AT&T Park ... didn’t feel the same.”

Cal running back C.J. Anderson is looking forward to his first spring game at Edwards Stadium.

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