If reading a bunch of semi-coherent tweets from me isn’t your thing, here’s a more neatly organized version of what I saw at Monday’s practice. This isn’t intended to be the be-all-end-all, of course, but when taken in conjunction with other reports, it might help you can get a better, fuller picture of what’s going on.
Post practice videos/interviews have been embedded into this post for your viewing pleasure. We're currently working on the whole taking pictures thing, which explains the cover photo.
Okay, enough of that. Let’s get to the good stuff.
If you were hoping for a quick conclusion to the Klindergoff saga, then what unfolded on Day 1 will only be a massive disappointment to you. All three candidates continued varying levels of up and down play, and as a result, naming a definitive frontrunner for the job remains difficult – if not nigh impossible. Depending on who you ask, either Goff or Hinder had the best day, but pretty much everyone would agree that Kline had the worst day.
Jared Goff – Word on the street has been that Goff gained 6-7 pounds of pure muscle, and that his weight was up quite significantly [the roster lists him at 205]. The shorts and helmets worn on Monday did little to support these numbers, though – from my perspective, he looked about the same size. As far as his actual performance Monday afternoon? Goff had, in my opinion, the best day of the Klindergoff trio, completing all those short, quick screens, slants, drags, and dumpoffs that are necessary to make the Bear Raid hum. In WR/DB drills, it was Goff who tossed the most touchdowns – at least four were counted by those in the stands. These were in addition several difficult fades to the sideline, including a perfectly placed one to Bryce Treggs that left Trey Cheek kind of helpless to defend.
But, he did not keep this level of play consistent throughout the entire practice – wavering at times in accuracy, and forcing a few other throws into coverage, as well. On one play, he threw a ball 10 yards over Drake Whitehurst’s head. He also did not score in the team’s final 11-on-11 period, while Kline did, and I believe Hinder did as well.
For those who want to read into the order that they went, Goff took most of the first reps for 7-on-7 and full team periods - and I personally felt that he came out ahead.
Zach Kline – It is no secret that most of the fan base hopes Kline wins the job, but, as I said up top, Kline had easily the worst day of practice among the three. He ended up taking several sacks, he held the ball too long on a handful of plays, and he threw the only interception I saw – a pick to Stefan McClure in WR/DB drills. During the team’s screen period, Kline was throwing off high and while moving backwards, two no-nos in an actual game. His arm strength was not on display often either, although this could be because there wasn’t too much vertical work on Monday. In the spring, there was a period specifically designated for verts, which didn’t happen today.
In one of the team’s full 11 on 11 periods, though, Kline seemed better - his problems in the screen game were nowhere to be found, and he threw those with more confidence.
Austin Hinder – He went third for most the day, but never really had any glaringly bad moments. It was a pretty decent day overall for #7, who looked like the best quarterback at times, and at others, very adequate. He didn’t get to show off his legs very much, but I expect that that will come more toward the padded practice. For what it’s worth, it did look like Hinder’s arm strength has improved a bit, with his long passes looking at least a little less fluttery. I was busy watching the OL/DL drills when Hinder was taking most of his reps on Monday, though, and will keep a closer eye on him going forward.
Jack Austin and Jacobi Hunter were the most impressive on Monday for me – Austin got open pretty consistently, used his frame nicely to beat press coverage a couple times, and he has some good size overall. As for Hunter? Well, Hunter had a field day with the 2nd team OL, racking up four sacks in pass protection drills. He still looks like he has some weight to lose, but he’s definitely plenty strong, and has a mighty mean bull rush, from the looks of it.
Other freshmen who stood out, according to Sonny Dykes: Johnny Ragin, Trevor Davis, Khalfani Muhammad, Cameron Walker. I'd add Ray Davison to that list, who picked up two sacks of his own in drills.
Depth Charts from Day 1:
These were taken from the team’s 11-on-11 periods. I am charting these so we have an idea of who is moving up or down from day to day. They may not be 100% accurate, but I'm doing the best I can.
Receivers and backs rotate in pretty often, so it’s not going to be entirely helpful to try to categorize them just yet. Still, some tidbits and morsels here:
Daniel Lasco took most of the starter reps at RB. Bigelow was seen too, but less. This may be because the team is bringing him along slowly.
The starters at WR were, pretty consistently: Chris Harper at right outside, Bryce Treggs at left outside, Maximo Espitia at left inside, and Jackson Bouza at right inside. Richard Rodgers also saw some run with the first unit. Maurice Harris appears to have moved in as Bryce Treggs’ backup, and Kenny Lawler as Chris Harper’s.
First team offensive line: Freddie Tagaloa, Jordan Rigsbee, Chris Adcock, Alejandro Croswaithe, Brian Farley. No, I don’t know why Matt Cochran was not at first team. We’ll keep an eye on that.
Second team offensive line: Matt Williams, Mark Brazinski, Matt Cochran, Geoffrey Gibson, Christian Okafor
Third team offensive line: Vinnie Johnson, Donovan Frazer, Mark Brazinski, Chris Borrayo, Erik Bunte
First team defense: Todd Barr [end], Dan Camporeale [end], Mustafa Jalil, Deandre Coleman, Khairi Fortt, Jalen Jefferson, Nick Forbes, Kameron Jackson, Stefan McClure, Avery Sebastian, Michael Lowe.
Second team defense: Chris McCain [end], Harrison Wilfley, Gabe King, Antoine Davis [end], Chris Broussard, Hardy Nickerson, Isaac Lapite, Jason Gibson [safety], Damariay Drew, Adrian Lee, Stefan McClure [nickel]. Yes, that is a 4-2-5 alignment.
Other notes about the twos: one 7-on-7 combinations for this unit was Lapite, Lucas King, Drew, Gibson, Michael Barton, Lee, and Broussard.
Other Notes and Observations:
I’ll start with the big news: Chris McCain looks gooooooooood, and very much like the player we all thought he might one day be. If Monday is any indication, he’s carrying his new 250 pound frame quite well, and in drills, he consistently held his ground against the o-line. The best part of this is the fact that he has lost none of his quickness, either. I watched McCain on back to back reps in pass rush drills - his springy explosion off the snap simply destroyed Christian Okafor, and on the very next play, Brian Farley whiffed badly trying to keep McCain in front of him. Bad move on Farley’s part, who ended up hapless and off-balance as McCain shot through for a second sack. Ex-plo-sive, and probably already the best end on the roster.
Kyle Boehm got some snaps from the Wildcat formation, with Richard Rodgers and Lucas Gingold joining him in the backfield. A couple of passes were seen from him, although nothing too risky – just quick dumpoffs to Rodgers in the flat, enough so the big man could do his thing.
Freddie Tagaloa did not fully participate, reportedly because of an ear infection. Viliama Moala also did not participate. According to Sonny, he has some academic stuff to take care of.
Brennan Scarlett and J.D. Hinnant were in no-contact red jerseys. The team is bringing those guys along slowly as well.
Darius Allensworth joined Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs in punt returns.
Damon Harrington has this team motivated as all hell during warmups. The players now feel more…unified and energetic, I think I’d say. Very vocal bunch now, with the warmups being led by what appear to be the upperclassmen/leaders. I’ll try to get a shot of this and some names at a future practice.
Austin Clark was one of the few non-participants today, and spent most of his time over in “The Pit.” Rope work, MMA stuff.
While the defensive line won a majority of the battles and the offensive line kind of struggled, it should be noted that Chris Adcock handled himself quite well in his return – he didn’t get beat any of the times I watched, and seemed to hold strong in general.
All three freshman DBs are still very small. Cameron Walker in particular.
Day 1’s Top Performers: Stefan McClure, Chris Harper, Jared Goff/Austin Hinder, the aforementioned freshman duo of Hunter/Austin, and Chris McCain.
Had a rough Monday: Cedric Dozier, Isaac Lapite, and most of the 2nd team OL. My opinions, of course.