Cal Football Fall Camp 2013: Practice Report #8

Matt Soderstrom

In which we send good thoughts, prayers, and wishes of healing for Avery Sebastian.

If you haven't heard yet, starting safety Avery Sebastian left yesterday's practice via ambulance after making a tackle on Jeffrey Coprich.

According to a press release by Cal Athletics, Sebastian was under medical observation at Highland Hospital late on Monday, but expected to be discharged soon. No updates have been given on his condition or injury since, although the press release - and subsequent tweets - have been encouraging.

Update: Avery Sebastian was released from the hospital this morning.

Whatever follows this section of the report cannot - and will not - be as important as the health of Sebastian, especially when he represents Cal with such pride and class. Keep him in your thoughts today. Myself and the staff of CGB certainly will.

Quarterbacks

With over 200 people in attendance to see the much anticipated showdown between Jared Goff and Zach Kline, what actually transpired during the scrimmage was a bit of a disappointment - short on results and conclusive data with which to separate either. Both quarterbacks started off shaky, and neither ever ended up settling down completely, either. Due to the penalties, Avery Sebastian's injury, and some inconsistent accuracy by the both of them, fans in attendance did not get to really see either "get rolling", so to speak.

Perhaps nerves were a factor, as Kline and Goff spent the early part of the scrimmage misfiring on throws they could normally make without a problem.

Goff's only real mistake was a poor decision to throw into clear double coverage, but he got away with it when Cedric Dozier dropped the interception. Goff threw the day's only legitimate touchdown pass, floating a ball up in the air for Khalfani Muhammad to come down with, after the freshman got behind Hardy Nickerson in coverage.

Although either quarterback could have been called the winner on Monday, I would probably be tempted to side with Kline, despite the statistical gap between the two. Those numbers aren't particularly telling, anyway - Kline handed off to Lasco for an 80 yard touchdown, which undoubtedly affected his final numbers. No, Kline had the edge on Monday for something that doesn't appear in the stats sheet at all - he faced significant pressure at times, but showed off an impressive pocket presence, repeatedly ducking oncoming rushers to dump off the ball, or throw it away. One particularly tough completion came when Kline decided to step into a hit and throw to James Grissom anyway to get a first down.

That's a dimension not seen nearly as much by Goff - partly because the freshman gets the ball out quicker, true, but partly also because his senses for doing so don't seem nearly as refined yet. There was one occasion when Kline was sacked by Chad Whitener, but for the most part, he demonstrated a clear and consistent ability to avoid pressure, something not seen in a Cal backfield for nearly half a decade. [And people say he can't run...]

There will be a second scrimmage Saturday. If the team hasn't yet settled on a quarterback by then, that day will serve as a rematch. For now, the Kloff still lives.

Statistics:

Courtesy of Cal Athletics

Goff: 10 of 15, 118 yards and a TD

Kline: 7 of 12, 69 yards and a TD

Hinder: 4 of 6, 64 yards, 5 yard TD run

Rushing:

Bigelow: 5 carries for 34 yards

Ervin: 5 carries for 17 yards

Lasco: 2 carries for 82 yards

Notes and Observations

All yardage totals are approximates, although officially statistics provided by Cal Athletics have been inserted wherever possible.

  • Among those who did not dress for the scrimmage - some health related, some likely not - were Bryce Treggs, Chris Harper, Freddie Tagaloa, Stefan McClure, Todd Barr, Sione Sina, and Austin Clark. J.D. Hinnant and Brennan Scarlett retained their usual red jerseys.
  • Nick Forbes, Alex Logan and Bill Tyndall all suited up, but did not play.
  • The defense probably had the edge on Monday, stopping the offense more often than they were scored upon, despite really only getting one turnover on a fumble on a dropped reverse by Joel Willis. Just good execution and tackling on that side of the ball - although the penalties that the offense committed on themselves helped.
  • Although he has been eliminated from the race already, it is fair to say that Austin Hinder had two of his finest drives of practice - Spring or Fall - on Monday. Operating in the Wildcat for a good amount of his plays, Hinder moved the ball effectively on the ground and through the air, and even completed about a 40 yard+ gain to James Grissom down to the 1 yard line - a longer pass than he ever usually completes. He completed a long gain out of the Wildcat formation to Stephen Anderson, as well. Still, to say that Monday got him back into the race would be premature - most of his playing time came against the second string defense.
  • The offense had trouble getting going early on due to several false start penalties. It looked like Matt Cochran (starting at right guard) committed a couple of them himself.
  • Chad Whitener and Johnny Ragin look like they could be special players a few years from now. The latter is ridiculously athletic, moves easily from sideline to sideline, but carries himself with a violence - during Monday's scrimmage, there was a point when Ragin not only pinned down Jeffrey Coprich on the right side, but basically almost suplexed him from behind, as well. Whitener, on the other hand, shows some good instincts and tackling ability, alongside a decently athletic frame of his own - a bit like Michael Barton in that way. I definitely saw him stuff Bigelow clean for a no gain, and, as mentioned up top, drop in on Kline for a sack, too.
  • Another practice, another highlight reel run for Bigelow, who took a carry to the right for a 20 yard touchdown during Monday's scrimmage. With Avery Sebastian having him dead to rights on the right sideline, Bigelow somehow managed to maneuver right around his would-be tackler, all without ever losing speed. He was corralled by a pack of defenders inside the 4 yard line, but managed to fight his way in for the score. This run was considerable shorter than the ones he has been breaking the last few days, sure, but what was impressive about his performance on Monday was his comfort with running inside - the Fresno Flash took a couple good shots from linebackers and popped back up each time, and he looked quite comfortable juking and cutting, too.
  • Chris McCain lined up outside at wide receiver when the offense took over at 1st and goal. Kline threw two fades to him - the first was called off when Michael Lowe committed a penalty breaking up the pass, and the second was completed for a touchdown, although McCain did jostle Isaac Lapite quite a bit in catching it. Just a look to keep your eye on.
  • Khalfani Muhammad's speed might be electrifying in a straight line, but he has some work to do elsewhere - the freshman was getting swallowed up at the line of scrimmage more often than not, going down relatively easily, and throughout this week, hasn't quite shown that he knows how to make a play happen out of nothing, the way Lasco and Bigelow can. Muhammad is almost certain to contribute, but still looks a little bit raw right now as a back.
  • The wide receivers are really, really blocking hard. Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs are two of the team's most consistent in this regard, but twice more on Monday, blocks were held down field long enough to spring the backs for large gains. One happened with Kenny Lawler on the right sideline, allowing Daniel Lasco to skate for a 70+ yard run, and the combination of Drake Whitehurst and Lucas Gingold helped Jeffrey Coprich pick up 35 yards of his own.
  • Although people rotated, this was the first first team defense today: Jalen Jefferson, Hardy Nickerson, Michael Barton, Deandre Coleman, Mustafa Jalil, Michael Barton, Dan Camporeale, Isaac Lapite, Chris McCain, Michael Lowe, Kam Jackson, Avery Sebastian
  • First offense seen on Monday: Maximo Espitia, Drake Whitehurst, Jackson Bouza, Kenny Lawler, Brendan Bigelow, Zach Kline, Steven Moore, Jordan Rigsbee, Chris Adcock, Matt Cochran, Brian Farley
  • No fights on Monday!
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