Last year at fall camp there was one recurring theme throughout practice: Defense dominates. This went on through Week 1, built up through Week 2, reinforced steadily through Week 3, then didn't really change much for the rest of the season. The offense kept on looking a step behind our D, and they never really caught up.
This isn't an old theme either. 2010 was a lot of the same. Since Clancy Pendergast arrived at Cal, the defense seemed to always be one step ahead of the offense. And Jeff Tedford kept on saying things like "The offense needs to catch up and grow into it" and then shocker of shockers we found ourselves ill-equipped to score on too many occasions during the season.
This year though? I'm starting to get the sense that the offensive side of the football might be finally catching up (or at the very least making things respectable) to our defense. Could we finally be seeing a return to normalcy for the Cal offense?
The quarterbacks are all starting to make good plays every practice. Zach Maynard, Allan Bridgford, and Austin Hinder have all been praised for their development at some point this fall by Tedford. C.J. Anderson keeps on fighting to move to the number one spot, and Brendan Bigelow looks like the guy we recruited.
Quality depth at RB is one thing; we've had that before. But having a bunch of signal-callers who are starting to look like they can play at a moment's notice if any one of them gets hurt is something that we haven't had for ages. Longshore-Riley '07 is the last year I can think of where we had two guys ready to play, but you might even have to go back to Rodgers-Robertson '04 to think of two guys who both could be trusted upon to carry the load for a significant period of time.
I wouldn't even begin to speculate how good the guys behind Maynard are (I'm not even sure how good Maynard will be this season), but it does seem like Tedford is starting to feel a lot more confident in the guys he has competing for the starting job. Of course we'll never really know until they see them in live action, but I'm liking what I'm hearing.
- One of the big reasons the offense is looking better? The youngster wide receivers are starting to show what they can do when given more top reps (this time with the second unit).
Treggs and Harper both took second-team reps, and Harper showed good footwork and a very smooth, gliding stride. Treggs took one pass in early team 11-on-11 work three yards out and dragged defenders for a gain of seven. Later in the same segment of practice, Treggs took a 12-yard out, shook his defender and gained 15 yards on the right sideline.
In one-on-ones, Powe straight-up beat safety Avery Sebastian on a skinny post and caught a long rifle shot from freshman quarterback Zach Kline. On the next play, Dozier put a dizzying double-move on Matt Mayes, but saw the pass sail wide. Immediately afterwards, Harper went up against No. 1 cornerback Steve Williams on a post, pushing to the outside for the shake and the catch.
The thing I like is that it's more of a give and take between both sides. The defense has good plays, the offense has good plays, so both sides feel better about themselves going into the next day of camp rather than one side feeling like they have mountains to climb. Last year it was clear that the D was the better unit and they proved as much through the season. This sort of camp will hopefully instill greater confidence in all of them.
- If you want inside player quotes, here's Steve Williams on Harper.
Defensive back Steve Williams took advantage of Harper on a post route the other day, relying on cues that gave away the play.
"Then he came back. He studied my body language and how I was covering him and he changed it up and ran a good route today," Williams said.
Harper, who starred at Encino (Calif.) Crespi, later added a 50-yard reception from quarterback Austin Hinder.
High praise like this coming from our number one corner is a pretty good sign Harper is going to be a player to watch when the two deeps are announced.
- Richard Rodgers got hurt up high (early reports have it as left shoulder, Maynard said a jammed finger), and I have no idea how serious it is. Tedford seemed optimistic, so I will be optimistic, but already the number of players getting hurt is becoming an irritating trend. Stay healthy all.
- Brennan Scarlett making an impression during fall camp makes me giddddddy. He is very talented.
- CalBears.com has a list of some highlights.
- Willie Fletcher got some time playing with the ones with other guys out. I think Cal recruiting fans spent about a millisecond talking about Fletcher compared to everyone else. Except ManBearCal, who broke this guy down like a pro.
- Tedford presser! Look out for the Ocho Cinco reference.
- Interview #2: Zach Maynard talked about the offensive line, the need for good snaps, the tight ends, and throwing to receivers that he isn't related to.
- Interview #3: C.J. Anderson provides another contrite and excellent interview about how far his team has gone from last season.
- Interview #4: Berkeley-native Lucas King (fighting for a spot on the two-deep at LB) talks about how good the red zone defense is early on, plus providing the team with some genuine Berkeley pride!
Actual video of special teams in action!