Cal Football Fall Camp 2013: Practice Report #9

Matt Soderstrom

In which we update Avery Sebastian's health, and take a look at the continuing battle between Zach Kline and Jared Goff.

[You know the drill by now. Don't you?]

Quarterbacks:

The quarterbacks are supposed to get easier to separate, not harder...and since both spoke after Tuesday's practice, I'll break up what each guy did by section.

Jared Goff:

Sonny Dykes said that last Wednesday was Goff's best practice so far, but what transpired Tuesday might have been even better. Throughout open practices, Goff has often trended on the conservative side when throwing, taking the short, sure completion over anything deeper down field. Tuesday, he showed a bit more aggression from the start - his first appearance on 11-on-11 was marked by a very difficult sideline throw to Chris Harper about 25 yards downfield, a throw made with very little room at all. Despite that challenge and the fact that Stefan McClure had Harper blanketed, Goff's throw allowed Harper to pull it down with one hand anyway.

Another series of impressive highlights came in a separate 11-on-11 period, when the true freshman faced a blitz up the middle, stepped right, and calmly found an open Jackson Bouza anyway for a large gain. As camp continues, the defense is bringing more and more defenders from more and more unusual locations, and for Goff to handle a safety blitz as coolly as he did speaks volumes to his development. That was only the start. On the play after that one, Goff found nobody open down field and scrambled for 15 yards, and on the play after that, he stepped away from pressure again to complete a ball to Richard Rodgers. Sonny Dykes spoke glowingly on both quarterbacks' ability to avoid pressure in his post practice comments, and it's not hard to see why.

Beyond those highlights, Goff was his usual accurate self, completing all manner of short passes - but those highlights were indicative of a very strong performance overall. After practice, Goff attributed this to simply getting more reps.

Zach Kline:

Kline was no slouch himself, and matched Goff completion for completion through most of practice, but the edge may have gone to the freshman for how complete his day was. Goff showed everything anyone could have asked for, while Kline's accuracy began to slip toward the end of the day, creating at least a couple lowlights.

Among them: a low and off-target pass to Jacob Wark, caught only by an outstanding effort on Wark's part, a ball that clanged off the crossbar in the end zone in 11-on-11, a tough pass into a tight window broken up by Damariay Drew and a near interception to Stefan McClure. The only real difference between Goff and Kline on Tuesday - and again, it must be stressed that both played much more consistently than at Monday's scrimmage - was that Goff largely able to avoid any moments like these.

Here's Coach Dykes on the quarterbacks, giving his update on how day 9 went for the Kloff:

"I thought they were good. I thought both of them were good. I thought it was the sharpest they've been - and you would expect that, because they've gotten more reps. With what we do offensively, reps are so critical. Every single rep they can get, they're improving, and that's what you expect to see."

"The reads were good. The thing we've got to not do is get in 3rd and long, that's an issue, and especially early in camp. We're a little bit young up front, so we've got to stay out of long yardage situations. I thought our quarterbacks are doing a good job moving around in the pocket and finding throwing lanes. We're improving in that area. That's something that takes a lot of work and reps - it's just a guy and how comfortable he gets shuffling and being able to move and find throwing lanes. Both quarterbacks are significantly improved."

There is still no timetable on a quarterback decision - Dykes said that he did not expect to have a winner by Friday - but reading the tea leaves, next Monday seems to be a logical date for a decision. In earlier interviews Dykes said that he would like his winner to receive at least a week of reps with the 1st team, and Monday marks the last full week of camp.

Statistics:

Courtesy of Cal Athletics. [I realize there are some disparities between these official statistics and the plays/moments I cited up top, but take them as you will. That's what the disclaimer up top is always for!]

Zach Kline: 7 of 7, 81 yards in two team sessions, 1 TD

Jared Goff: 5 of 5, 86 yards in two team sessions

Touchdowns: Daniel Lasco [two], Khalfani Muhammad, Maximo Espitia

Notes and Observations:

  • Avery Sebastian is "good" and was in the team facilities Tuesday, although not on the field. Coach Dykes expects him back this season - "I'd be surprised if he doesn't [play]," Dykes said - but no timetable was given on a return date. No real update was given about his injury, which is still being diagnosed.
  • Damariay Drew got the first crack at replacing Sebastian, and impressed Coach Dykes with his performance. "I thought he had a good day. He showed up a lot more," Dykes said. "Damariay is one of those guys who just gets better and better the more reps he gets. This is his opportunity to make a name for himself a little bit." Among his highlights were a pass defensed, and some tackles in which he came up quite fast to the line of scrimmage. That kind of closing speed hadn't been seen too much earlier.
  • It was a strong day overall from the team, Dykes said, "maybe the best since [he's] been here."
  • An updated report on Trey Cheek's condition was given after practice - the freshman cornerback has a severe hamstring pull, and is expected to be out for at least a week.
  • Various members of the team were missing today for academic reasons. Among them were Chris McCain, Brennan Scarlett and Joel Willis. McCain and Mustafa Jalil were mentioned as guys who might be ineligible if their summer school grades were disastrous, but Coach Dykes did not expect that either were in any danger of that. "I anticipate them being with us," he said.
  • Maurice Harris will receive another set of x-rays for his hand injury on Thursday. On Harris, Coach Dykes said: "probably just a slight fracture that needs to heal...that's usually a week and a half injury. It's been about a week and a half. We anticipate getting him out there pretty quickly."
  • Alex Logan saw his first action of camp Tuesday afternoon, appearing with the 2s for some snaps during 7-on-7.
  • Khairi Fortt did not participate in practice. Coach Dykes said that Fortt had knee soreness and bruising.
  • This was the third straight day Matt Cochran worked at right guard, and the second straight day Steven Moore spent at right tackle. Replacing Moore at left tackle on the second team offense was Brian Farley.
  • Farley seemed to be having trouble with freshman defensive end Ray Davison toward the end of practice, giving up a sack on what appeared to be a blown block assignment, and then giving up pressure on the play after that, as well.
  • Chris Harper continued to take snaps out of the Wildcat formation, although this occurred in the pre-practice period. Harper also threw an incomplete pass.
  • Cam Walker could be an asset on special teams, if not this season, then whenever he starts to see the field. The freshman blocked his third punt in nine days - really less than nine - at yesterday's practice.
  • Several NFL scouts were at practice, and if they were looking for Deandre Coleman, then they chose the right day to show up - the Washington native began the day's 11-on-11 period with a sack.
  • It's early, but based on relative playing time thus far, as well as performance, the following list is an educated guess which freshmen will play this fall. Definitely playing in some capacity will be Khalfani Muhammad, Johnny Ragin, and Jacobi Hunter - Ragin has been seeing more and more time with the second unit as practice continues, although I'll try to ask Coach Buh what he thinks later this week. Possibly playing: Chad Whitener, Jack Austin, Trey Cheek (depending on how quickly he is able to return from injury), Cam Walker (he's still a bit raw, though).
  • Muhammad also had his best run of camp Monday afternoon, putting together a 40-something yard gain. He took a carry left, planted his foot, and changed directions better than he had at any other practice - and his longest run by far was the reward.
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