Before we get into today's report, an actual substantial disclaimer:
All five remaining practice reports from here on out are going to look a little bit different, for a couple of reasons.
The first - and most obvious reason - is this: because the quarterback situation has basically resolved itself, I won't spend too much time recapping, analyzing, or livetweeting their exploits, except when the offense appears to be the most interesting thing on the field.
The second reason is that the structure of practice itself has changed, forcing me to kind of recalibrate what I am looking for, and when to focus on which unit. This might take another day or so to figure out. More details on this below.
Anyway, with those two things in mind, I plan to spend the remaining fall camp reports trying to provide some insight into anything else I might pick up or see at practice, while also trying not give away anything that the coaches might not want out there. This, in turn, may also mean shorter reports - although I do hope they remain worth your time in the morning.
Notes and Observations:
- As mentioned up top, the team is now beginning preparations for the season opener, and this was clearest when watching the team's defensive periods - that unit faced off against a scout team that wore jersey numbers to match Northwestern's personnel. Among them was Austin Hinder, who sported a white #2 jersey, and will be working as the scout team version of Kain Colter.
Third-stringer Austin Hinder went to @CalFootball OC Tony Franklin, asked to be scout QB to help Bears begin prep for 8/31 v. Northwestern.— Jeff Faraudo (@JeffFaraudo) August 20, 2013
- Darius Allensworth picked off Jared Goff during offense versus scout defense. [And yes, Jared Goff took pretty much all the snaps on Monday. Both he and Kline opened Monday with touchdowns, though.]
- That scout defense, according to my notes: Antoine Davis, Marcus Manley, Tony Mekari, Ray Davison, Darius Allensworth, Cormac Craigie, David Garner, Ikem Okwudiafor, Chad Whitener, Edward Tandy, and Cameron Walker. Getting a scout offense was impossible, since players were wearing different numbers than usual.
- The defense spent its time working against different run looks - specifically, a lot of read option, speed option, pitch option and Pistol formations. Judging from the results, the run defense still looks like it's going to be a work in progress here, but I would expect a lot of similar drilling to continue through Saturday and next week. There's still quite a ways to go before the game, and the players are still learning where and how Andy Buh wants them to defend the option.The scout offense ran no pass plays.
- Of course, the word Pistol in that last note just caused every Cal fan reading to flip out and panic.
- Puka Lopa and Kenny Lawler were among the strongest performers on Day 14 - the former forced several pressures, dominated drills, and could be found in the backfield more often than not. As for Lawler, Monday marked his third straight strong performance, punctuated with a leaping grab for a touchdown from Zach Kline. Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs continued their excellent play as well, although you probably didn't need me to tell you that.
- The catch of the day went to Richard Rodgers, who ended up tapping a Jared Goff fade to himself, before cradling it softly in the end zone.
- Avery Sebastian confirmed that he was concussed at last Monday's scrimmage. No target date has been set for his return, but he is making sure to be extremely careful.
- Even with the loss of Broussard and Wilkerson, Coach Dykes said he is not worried about the linebacking depth, and is quite happy with the players in the rotation. However, expect to see "quite a bit" of nickel - and based on practice so far, specifically, 4-2-5 - looks this season.
- Linebacker Nick Forbes remains "a work in process". Running mate Khairi Fortt "looked a lot better [Monday]" and is closer to a full recovery.
- Coach Dykes does not have a formal two deep for the receivers, and said that anywhere between 10-12 guys will catch balls in a typical game. An educated guess at those guys:
Absolute locks: Bryce Treggs, Chris Harper, Richard Rodgers, Jackson Bouza, who make up, or should be considered "first string"
Second string: James Grisom [whose name I have apparently been spelling wrong this whole time. My apologies], Kenny Lawler, Maximo Espitia, Stephen Anderson
Expected to be in rotation: Darius Powe, Maurice Harris, Drake Whitehurst
- While it is unclear if Coach Dykes included running backs in that total, you should probably expect Khalfani Muhammad, Daniel Lasco, and Brendan Bigelow to be involved too, obviously.
- Drake Whitehurst has recently suffered through a case of the dropsies. He had several on Monday, but this has been an ongoing trend in recent practices.
- Joel Willis has moved back to defense, as the team attempts to shore up a thin secondary. He will play cornerback and special teams. I am hoping to talk to him tomorrow or Thursday.
- Another pair of updates on injuries from the scrimmage on Saturday: Adrian Lee is expected back tomorrow, as he spent the last few days dealing with a minor ankle sprain. Defensive tackle Jacobi Hunter will see a doctor about his shoulder tomorrow, and should be back in a limited contact basis then as well. The two of them joined Sione Sina and Trey Cheek in a grueling side workout - all four were tasked with climbing up and down the steps of Memorial Stadium, carrying chains and weights.
- Saturday's final practice will not be a scrimmage. Just some situational work - and it would be surprising if the team goes in full pads much, if at all, in the weeks before August 31st. Coach Dykes doesn't believe that full pads make too much of a difference with the way he runs he practices, so expect shorts and shells mostly.
- Two interesting looks shown: Bigelow and Muhammad in the slots, and something that Eugene clumsily termed the "jumbo superbone", which sported Richard Rodgers and Drake Whitehurst out at wide receiver. There is no guarantee any of these actually makes it into a game, of course - Chris McCain has seen time in one of these packages, after all, and hasn't really been spotted on offense since.