BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -No matter what DeSean Jackson does on his electrifying punt returns, some fans always want more out of No. 6 California's top playmaker.
That includes Jackson's father, Bill, who wondered aloud why his son wasn't getting more touches during a halftime interview in last week's blowout victory over Louisiana Tech.
Jackson's sprained thumb is the biggest reason, says coach Jeff Tedford. The injury has prevented the junior from getting into a regular rhythm in practice, where he must wear a cast to keep the thumb safe for game day.
But Jackson realizes he's just one part of a multitalented offense that shows off every part of its playmaking arsenal in Tedford's balanced game plans. Even if he doesn't catch more passes than teammate Lavelle Hawkins in Saturday's Pac-10 opener against Arizona, Jackson said he'll be happy with any role.
``I'm definitely aware of everything that's going on in the offense,'' Jackson said. ``We have a lot of playmakers. There's a lot going into this offense. I know a lot of teams will try to take me away, and it's one of those things where it's going to be like that this year. I just have to be patient and get more chances to make plays.''
Jackson has 14 receptions for 112 yards in three games, trailing Hawkins' 19 catches for 220 yards in both categories. Jackson, touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate on a Web site set up by the school, has scored touchdowns on a 77-yard punt return and a 73-yard rush, but hasn't caught a TD pass after getting 16 in his first two seasons.
That's largely because the Golden Bears have plenty of options. Hawkins is enjoying a breakout season, while Robert Jordan also has been solid despite nagging injuries. Together, they're living up to their preseason billing as one of the nation's top receiving groups.
And the three are friends who love to share the spotlight. When a fan mistook Hawkins for Jackson at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Hawkins jokingly played along, urging the fan to wear Jackson's No. 1 jersey to Saturday's game.
``We all work together to make each other better,'' Hawkins said. ``We're there for each other, but we understand we've all got to be our best to make this thing work. Nobody's trying to get over on anybody else. We're all out there every day just working for Cal.''
Jackson's injury is affecting his preparation for games because of the cast, and he might not get as much attention in practice from quarterback Nate Longshore. But the Bears know Jackson's speed and ability, even if he can't show it during late-afternoon workouts at the stadium.
``I think it's been real frustrating for him because it's something he counts on - his thumb - to grasp and catch the ball,'' Tedford said. ``DeSean's not a body catcher. He's got great hands and he relies on his hands. It's a (sprained) thumb. It's not a break, it's just a nagging thing for him, so it is a little bit frustrating.''

NCAAF Headlines

More inNCAAF News  

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail Sun Devils aim to protect house vs. Cougs Arizona State has won six in a row at Sun Devil Stadium over Washington State. But will that streak come to an end this evening?
Thumbnail Freeze's Rebels eye upset win at Tiger Stadium LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze enjoy a warm, longstanding relationship. That’ll surely go by the...
Thumbnail Ohio St. vs. Penn St. Prediction Will No. 2 Ohio State be able to put up enough offense to hit the over when it takes on Penn State tonight...
Thumbnail Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech Prediction Will Texas Tech hang with Oklahoma when the two schools play in a shootout tonight at 8:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Michigan St. vs. Maryland Prediction Can Maryland find a way to upset a struggling Michigan State football team at home when they meet up...
More inNCAAF Articles  

NCAAF Team Pages