"Praise Be To Tedford!" - Image via www.bcemba06.org
HydroTech: Before we start on the actual discussion, let's look at the depth chart.
QB: Riley; Longshore; Mansion
RB: Best; Vereen or Slocum
SE: Calvin, Cunningham,
WR: Young (it's unknown if Young is SE or FL so I'll list him as WR, he's probably FL though)
TE: Morrah; (who else? Tad Smith or Anthony Miller? or the other TE?)
LT: Teofilo; Tepper
LG: Guarnero; (who else?)
C: Mack; Guarnero
RG: Malele; (who else?)
RT: Schwartz(who else?)
TwistNHook: Didn't Okanes do a depth chart? Is that where you are getting this from?
HydroTech: Yes, but he only lists the starters. We could talk a lot about who will be key reserves if we know the two-deep.
TwistNHook: Many people are focusing on the lack of experience at WR. And assuredly, there are some concerns there. But I really think Morrah is going to have a huge year at TE. Yknow, I didn't see him this year at the FanFest. Did anybody see him there? I saw him last year, he is HUGE! This guy isn't a blocking-focused TE like we've had in the past. He's going to be a major passing threat out there.
I think that Morrah will help the inexperienced WR corp by being that passing threat. Not only can he give them genuine guidance, but he will require the focus of the opposing defense, which should open up opportunities for the WRs.
And maybe I am being a bit cocky here, but I'm feeling stronger and stronger about our WRs. Am I alone in that?
ragnarok: We finally have the full depth chart (PDF).
CBKWit: Nyan, Nyan, what's going on, Nyan?
HydroTech: Nyan said in a recent article that he has no idea why he's not on the two-deep. He claims he's done everything the coaches have asked him to do. He claims that they have not told him a reason why. I find that a little troubling. As a former performer myself, I always wanted to know what I am doing wrong so I can fix it and be better. So I'm hoping the coaches tell him the reason behind their decisions. If you read Okanes' blog, in his opinion he seems to think Nyan's consistency (was it consistency?) fell off towards the end of camp.
TwistNHook: What did you perform, HydroTech?
You must excuse me, given Nyan's past history, if I don't quite take him at his word. Nonetheless, I hope that, whatever the problem may be, this is a wake up call to help him perform at the level he claims he can perform at.
Honestly, even with the complete and total lack of experience, I am starting to feel really excited about our WRs this season. Even though nobody seems to have a talent of DeSean and Co., their larger size helps expand the possibilities. This is not to take anything away from DeSean and Jordan and The Hawks. They were all great talents in their own special way. But having so many WRs above 6 feet and 200 pounds gives Cignetti and Co. the ability to send them down the middle of the field in traffic.
"Can we replace this?" - Image via www.fearthebeard.org
ragnarok: I think what makes me feel more confident about our WR corps is that there's such a deep pool to choose from. No, there's not much experience there, but it's not as if we're depending on one or two guys to step up and 'be the man'; if the current starters can't hack it, someone else will get a shot, and I'm fairly confident we'll find a couple of great receivers out of this bunch. If Nyan didn't even make the two-deep, man, I think there's gotta be some talent ahead of him.
Also, remember 2004, when it seemed like every receiver we had started going down to injury. Chase Lyman, Jonathan Makonnen, etc. We'd still have Robert Jordan on this team right now if Tedford hadn't had to burn his redshirt late in 2004. Well, injuries happen, and they'll bite us at some point this year, so I'm at least comforted that if one or two guys go down, there are capable backups waiting to step it.
HydroTech: I performed rhythmic gymnastics.
TwistNHook: Was that synchronized beach rhythmic gymnastics with Alicia Sacraminnow? And I know why she wouldn't tell you what you did wrong. Because that's an embarrassing problem, I don't care how many times you try to claim it happens "to all guys."
Yellow Fever: What a surprise is it that TE Tad Smith picked up the #2 spot after practicing with the DL for the past 3 years. It's amazing that he's made such a huge progression at his new position and even beat out juco transfer Skylar Curran. Likewise, I'm amazed that Anthony Miller picked up the #3 spot at TE. While I was very impressed with his recruiting videos, I just thought experience would win Curran a spot over Miller. I am excited about Miller though. He's a big TE with the capabilities of being a tough big body to move in pass protection as well as being unstoppable in the open field.
CBKWit: Boateng is a little surprising, given that he worked with the first team for most of spring ball as well. He clearly has more talent (speed) than Cunningham, though I'm not sure about Sean Young (he may have been injured in the spring). I can't say I'm completely surprised that he's not starting, however, because he didn't always put in maximum effort. He was last on the entire team by a significant margin lining up for cool down stretches in one of the practices I saw. He also didn't consistently hustle back to line up after drills or plays. Since I didn't attend fall practices, I can't say that this is what's preventing him from starting the first game, but it wouldn't surprise me if the veterans are putting in more effort and are performing more consistently.
As for the back up TE spot, Tad Smith was fantastic in spring ball and it doesn't surprise me at all that he made the two deep. It is a bit surprising that Anthony Miller has already passed Savai'i Eselu and Curran, since they have already been on the team for a year, but Tedford did say this spring that Miller was one true freshman who could play immediately.
What's interesting is that world class idiot Donovan Edwards made the two deep as the back up left tackle. Now once Tepper returns from his injury, he'll probably reclaim the starting spot at left tackle, pushing Teofilo back to the right side and pushing Schwartz into a back up role. Whether Edwards will then remain as the 2nd string LT or get bumped down by Matt Laird moving over to the right side remains to be seen. But it's still impressive to see Edwards jump onto the o-line two deep only a few weeks after joining the team. I always thought Cal's offensive linemen had to be pretty smart to master the techniques and schemes that make them one of the top lines in the conference year in and year out. But if a doofus like Edwards can succeed, apparently anyone can.
TwistNHook: Even me, CBKWit? Even me?
CBKWit: Sorry, let me clarify. Even a doofus with elite size, speed, and strength. You know, minor details. Twist, you have elite hair, but I'm not sure about your speed. Unless you mean your speed at which you evict grandmothers and lose court cases.
ragnarok: His wife seems to think Twist has 'elite speed'...
HydroTech: TwistNHook has 4.3 second speed.
TwistNHook: 4.3 seconds? Damn, who can last that long???
Yellow Fever: I guess this is the point where we should discuss Kevin Riley. I think we've all sort of gone over Riley/Longshore ad nausea. We know that Riley brings more mobility than Longshore. It appears that Tedford believes that Riley has finally gotten a sufficient grasp of the playbook. Certainly, if Tedford believes that Riley is the #1 guy, I believe him. I felt that Longshore had a lot of built in advantages going into the competition. So, for Tedford to choose Riley makes me think that Riley has been playing exceptionally well.
There is a risk with a 2 QB situation, always. Nobody seems to know what the situation is regarding playing time etc etc etc. I wonder if Riley just kicks major butt, will we even see Longshore?
"Rock Me Sexy, Jesus In Cleats II." - Image via www.dailycal.org
HydroTech: Last year, Tedford said Riley had a sufficient grasp of the offense. The problem was never that Riley never had enough grasp of the offense, the problem was that Longshore always had a better grasp of the offense not to mention a lot more experience too. Experience was the big built-in "built in advantage" for Longshore. Prior to Tedford letting both Riley and Longshoe play with the first team, Longshore had the built in advantage of working with the first team offense whereas Riley worked with the second team.
Yellow Fever: So, Riley had many disadvantages to overcome and apparently did so. That makes me feel good about the upcoming season.
CBKWit: I mentioned this elsewhere, but a word of caution: Riley has been the victim of nerves before. He was pretty bad in the first quarter of the OSU game (yes, it was his first start, and he was charged with keeping the team in the top 5 in the country – not an easy task). He was also, by all accounts, pretty nervous to start fall camp with the starting job on the line. Now he came around in both of these cases, and he certainly started off well against Air Force when he was finally inserted into the game, but I won’t be surprised if it takes him a series or two to really get things moving on Saturday.
TwistNHook: That was well more than 1 word of caution, CBKWit.
Having seen Alex Mack in person on Saturday, I would live in fear of facing him on the football field. Kevin Riley can sleep well at night knowing Mack is protecting him. Cal always seems to have a strong history of great Centers.
ragnarok: I think Cal is building a pretty decent reputation for having strong offensive lines as a whole. 6-straight 1,000-yard rushers? When was the last time we had a shoddy O-line? I can't even remember. Plus, there's gotta be a reason Coach M was promoted to offensive coordinator, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't his superior play-calling abilities.
I honestly don't know much about the new guys on the line, or judging individual linemen in general, but I'm really not worried. Should I be?
CBKWit: Nah. Teofilo, the starting left tackle until Tepper returns, got his feet wet at the end of last season. Though he, frankly, sucked in Big Game, he played well in the Armed Forces Bowl. Guarnero, the new starting left guard, was a highly regarded recruit and was far enough along in the spring a year ago that Cal experimented with Alex Mack at left tackle and Guarnero moving in at center. And Mitchell Schwartz, this starting right tackle until Tepper returns and bumps Teofilo back to RT, was the one true freshman lineman to dress for games last year. He ended up redshirting, but he is huge and certainly looks the part. He jumped Matt Laird, who has been on the team two years longer, to start the MSU game, which seems like a good thing to me.
TwistNHook: That's why I feel confident about our running backs. We don't have a Marshawn on the team, but Best showed bursts of brilliance last year. And with such depth in Slocum and Vereen (not to mention a great FB situation), I think we are going to be A-OK.
"I'm coming for you, Usain!" - Image via www.dyestatcal.com
ragnarok: I am curious to see how much Tedford and Cignetti have Best running between the tackles. I know he can do it, but do they try and keep him outside to some extent? He's certainly not as bruising as Marshawn.
I also wonder how Slocum is doing, being that, at least on this depth chart, he's behind two guys who are a year younger than him. It was about this time last year that Kyle Reed, figuring there wouldn't be much playing time for him in Berkeley with the younger Riley ahead of him, transferred to San Jose State. I'm not suggesting that Slocum is looking to get out, and I know tailbacks get rotated a lot more than quarterbacks, but barring his moving up, someone leaving school early, or an injury, Slocum's touches at Cal could be limited.
Yellow Fever: All I want to know is whether I should bother picking up Longshore in the College Fantasy Football league. Also, whether I should drop the random scrubs I have at RB for Joe McKnight. Would that make me evil?
TwistNHook: Well, that's probably a sign to open this up to the readers. How evil would Yellow Fever be if he picked up Joe McKnight in the fantasy league?
ragnarok: I've already got Mark "Dirty" Sanchez, so I have no grounds to judge you.