With the team preparing for a scrimmage on Monday, you would figure that Sunday might be lowkey, low news day.
Instead, what we got at Cal's seventh practice was a load of quarterback news, new looks being teased, fights, people coming back from injuries...and more. Keep reading!
The big announcement at the end of Sunday's practice was the long awaited conclusion of the Klindergoff saga - the quarterback trio became a trio no longer when Coach Dykes announced that Austin Hinder was out of the race.
"Yeah, I think Zach and Jared'll be getting a majority of the first team reps," Dykes said. "We'll split it up. Austin won't get as many, and we'll let those two guys kind of compete and see what happens."
"Right now, I think Zach and Jared have kind of set themselves apart."
News of this this should not - and doesn't - come as a surprise. Hinder had performed well at times this week, but in the six practices before Sunday, his struggles were more numerous than those of his competitors, and his lows far lower than them, as well. Of the three, the only category he really ever led in was turnovers - which were, undoubtedly, a large part of his undoing.
But now, the competition gets even more interesting, because thus far, Kline and Goff have essentially battled each other to a draw.
I wrote yesterday that I personally thought Goff was having a better first week of camp, an edge I gave him by the barest of margins, if any - and mostly based on the fact that he had had only one bad day. His consistency and dependability was able to edge him out over Kline, in my eyes.
And it's really true - Goff has been smooth, efficient, polished, and workmanlike since practice started last Monday, a trend that he extended with a 10 of 13, 77 yard passing performance during the 11-on-11 periods on Sunday. During the 7-on-7 segment, where he had three TD passes, Goff had what was probably his best throw all afternoon, tossing a gorgeous back shoulder fade to Jack Austin, who beat Cedric Dozier in coverage. [By my unofficial count, Goff went 8 of 10 here.]
Not to be outdone, Kline was 7 of 9 in 7-on-7 with 3 TD passes himself - although, keep in mind, he worked from inside the 20 yard line mostly. In the practice-ending 11-on-11 segment, Kline completed 5 of 6 passes for 124 yards and a TD, 95 of which came when Jackson Bouza ran a post route right into open grass.
In the situations when they faced live blitzes and different defensive fronts on Sunday - there were a few in the opening practice segment - both demonstrated solid pocket presence, both moved around when appropriate, both stepped away from pressure, and both made smart decisions to get rid of the ball, as well.
With all of that above, Kline and Goff already sound relatively inseparable from each other. The equation only gets more complicated when we consider the fact that they each do different things well. Kline's strength lies primarily in his explosive play-making ability - nearly all of the big completions and gains during camp have come with him at the offense's controls, and the throw to Bouza was yet another. Goff, on the other hand, rarely ever makes a mistake, and keeps the offense humming along with completion after completion, and quick decision after decision. His ability to do so exceeds than of Kline's.
Though they have both played well, this difference in strengths makes an examination of the two more like a clash of philosophies - and Coach Dykes has yet to rule on which he would prefer.
But that's where we stand heading into Monday's scrimmage - with one freshman quarterback who plays like a confident, steady leader, and one redshirt quarterback who can shift between frustrating and fantastic on any given play. A decision will likely within the next couple of days, but at this point, it's hard to tell if one leads over the other - or if there is a leader at all.
Here's what we know for sure: Klindergoff has left Memorial Stadium. Kloff has entered in his place.
Get your popcorn ready.
Stats in italics courtesy of Cal Athletics.
Notes and Observations:
- Two big brawls happened during Sunday's practice - the first happened after Chris McCain horsecollared a scrambling Jared Goff on the right side of the field, only to be met with a furious Richard Rodgers as soon as he got up. Rodgers, coming to the defense of his quarterback, tangled with McCain, and the two threw some punches and spilled over to the right sideline. The second brawl happened only a play or two later,after Khalfani Muhammad went down hard. Instigators were hard to pick up for this one, but it was just about - or even larger - in scale than the first. Following this second fight, Coach Dykes called a halt to practice, and moved the team to the 50 yard-line to give a speech. Here's part of what was said, courtesy of Ryan Gorcey, who sat a lot closer to it than me...
Dykes taking his team to task. "We're trying to keep you guys healthy. By August 31, we're not going to have anybody left"— Ryan Gorcey (@RGBearTerritory) August 12, 2013
"We are a team. We've come a long way. We cannot afford to let ANYTHING divide us." -- Dykes
"We are a team. We've come a long way. We cannot afford to let ANYTHING divide us." -- Dykes— Ryan Gorcey (@RGBearTerritory) August 12, 2013
- After practice, Coach Dykes spoke on the day's fights: "It's that time of camp. Guys get tired and get a little bit up, and they're competing hard against each other. Then guys start keeping score to an extent - this guy pushed him or whatever. We just had a little flare up, we got past it, we'll move on, and learn from it. I think it's a positive sign. We've got to handle it, but it's positive that our guys care and compete against each other. They've got to learn to keep their emotions a little more in check, but that's part of the process."
- "I think we're fine. We're learning to be a team. That's something we knew was going to be a process," he continued. "We've done a lot of things to improve our team, and we still have to continue to do that. Unfortunately, building a team with 105 people is a process...it's a process, and our guys have been taking two steps forward, and today, we took a little bit of a step back." [That's right. TWO BULLET POINTS ABOUT THIS.]
- Pretty much everybody who is able to participate in the scrimmage will, although some guys - Bigelow, Forbes, etc - will see limited reps.
- Defensive back Trey Cheek was sidelined during practice, and walking around with the help of crutches. We'll get an update on his health later today, and on Todd Barr, as well, who spent a good chunk of practice getting treatment on the sideline.
- Avery Sebastian (bone spurs in heel) did return as a participant, and looks good to go for the scrimmage.
- Brendan Bigelow continued to see a limited number of snaps on Sunday, but he sure took advantage of the ones he did get, busting loose for a 70-yard touchdown run up the right sideline, and juking some poor defensive back out of his boots while doing so. A strong block on the outside by Chris Harper helped spring him free.
- Bill Tyndall saw some snaps during the team's screen drill period, marking the first time he has been seen all of fall camp. He had previously been recovering from a broken ankle suffered in the spring.
- Defensive lineman Puka Lopa also saw some action during practice, which was the first time for him all fall, too.
- Chris Harper appeared under center as the Wildcat quarterback, handing off twice to Brendan Bigelow and Khalfani Muhammad. Harper doesn't look completely comfortable back there, though - with less quarterback experience than Kyle Boehm, he had a considerable amount of trouble catching and handling snaps from Chris Adcock, and also nearly fumbled at the meshpoint on the handoff to Muhammad.
- There has been a strong trend of play from the backup defensive backs in recent days, with Adrian Lee being the latest to step up. He recorded a pair of passes defensed on Sunday. Kam Jackson - while not a backup defensive back - also had a highlight moment, muscling the ball out of Patrick Worstell's hands for a fumble/incompletion, a play reminiscent of Tyrann Mathieu in his glory days.
- In other positional news, backup center Matt Cochran worked at right guard on the first team line for most of practice, and joining him on the first team line was Steven Moore at right tackle. "There's still great competition for those spots," Coach Dykes said, after acknowledging Moore could be in the mix to start opposite Tagaloa.
- For the record, the first team line seen working together on Sunday was: Freddie Tagaloa, Jordan Rigsbee, Chris Adcock, Cochran, and Moore. That being said, it does seem that Cochran is getting adjusted to his new position - though I am no expert at diagnosing offensive line play, I did notice him having difficulty on one of the runs, where he collided with Jordan Rigsbee before finding the hole/gap he was supposed to pull into.