Cal football spring ball 2014: Practice Report #2

In which the weather takes a delightful turn, and there is tackling.

The energy level ran high from the beginning of practice on Saturday, probably due to the presence of a live scrimmage period -- the first of the spring. Or maybe it was just this:

In any case, Coach Dykes announced on Friday that he has decided to switch from 3-4 major practice scrimmages to several less lengthy ones, which would increase reps but lower the chance of injury.

Yesterday, we got to get an up-close look at those at Open Practice #2.

Depth chart

  • Although Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs, Khalfani Muhammad and Daniel Lasco all did not play -- more on that later -- there were no real changes to report on offense, and I really doubt there will be this spring. The only position really up for grabs is at right tackle, where Brian Farley and Christian Okafor are battling. Your first team line at this point is, from left to right: Steven Moore, Chris Borrayo, Jordan Rigsbee, Alejandro Crosthwaite, with Farley and Okafor still battling. As mentioned a little while back, expect Chris Adcock and Matt Cochran to be in the mix for that right guard spot when they're back.
  • Your standard do not read too much into this just yet disclaimer, before I give the first unit that showed up for 11 on 11s: Kyle Kragen, Brennan Scarlett, Harrison Wilfley, Marcus Manley, Michael Barton, Jalen Jefferson, Darius Allensworth, Cam Walker, Griffin Piatt, Cedric Dozier, Damariay Drew.
  • Ray Hudson appears to have taken over Jacob Wark's slot in the Bone, and should give the team some additional receiving flexibility/punch in that regard.

Observations

  • It was not a great day for Jared Goff by any means, as the sophomore starter threw two interceptions on the day. The first happened on a clear miscommunication between him and Trevor Davis -- Davis was running a deeper pattern and never looked for the ball, which landed right in Cedric Dozier's arms for what would have been a pick six. A few throws after that, there was a toss lofted right into a crowd, which was picked off as well. Both were thrown during a 7 on 7 segment, though, so there's that.
  • Goff had several other passes fall into less than ideal places, either hitting the ground, flying just out of reach, or in between multiple defenders, Now, if this is how he still looks in the fall, then maybe I'd worry, but for now, it's not worth panicking about, since he's still recovering from the shoulder surgery. To his credit, there were a handful of beautiful connections, too, with Kenny Lawler on the receiving end of most.
  • Hinder threw one interception of his own, and it will give some people flashbacks of Northwestern: Darius Powe tipped it up for Jalen Jefferson to come down with.
  • Don't count on the rushing offense suddenly becoming Oregon or anything like that, but they do look remarkably improved compared to last spring -- at least in these first two open practices, anyway. Last year, getting any sort of push or significant yardage was a huge grind, and that showed in the largely mediocre statistics. In the moments where I've been watching, there is some clear evidence of progress -- double teams driving dudes back, some actual creases and running lanes, and a lot less of our quarterbacks running for their lives.
  • Further proof of this came in the backs that produced on Saturday: Jeffrey Coprich and walk-on Austin Harper, who isn't much bigger than me (although a ton faster, obviously!). Coprich showed quite a bit more than he did a year ago, slipping and running through a fair number of tackle attempts. Part of this, I'll give to Coprich, and part of this, I'll simply chalk up to bad tackling -- several by Edward Tandy that I noticed in particular -- something Coach Dykes mentioned after the practice. Whatever the case, Coprich also tore through the defense for a 40 yard gain toward the end of practice, the day's longest.
  • As for Harper, he ran hard and decisively despite his size, earning at least one 15-yard gain and he also caught a one handed touchdown at the goalline, sliding in ahead of an uncoming linebacker. Like with Griffin Piatt, the depth chart at his position will become a lot more crowded come fall, so I would hesitate on slapping the future contributor label on him just yet. Still, he did have a nice afternoon. [Odd sidenote: Harper was in a Summer Bridge class I helped teach last year, although he was in the other section. Here's video of him after practice:]
  • Because I don't write enough about offensive line play, let me mention that twice, Steven Moore caught my eye on Saturday. In a pass protection drill I quickly looked at, he took on Puka Lopa's speed rush and knocked him off course, forcing Lopa to take a longer path toward the quarterback. That would be a win for him, I believe. He also put a great block on a pursuing Jonathan Johnson during 11-on-11s, allowing Goff to scramble for a gain of five.
  • Brennan Scarlett had at least one sack, and forced Austin Hinder into a second incompletion. He also combined with Jalen Jefferson on a tackle for loss during a 3rd down drill.
  • I felt like Darius Allensworth played pretty well, personally. Noticed him twice -- first slithering past a block to break up a pass during screen drill, and then again later on pursuing Jeffrey Coprich from the other side of the field to end his 40 yard run.
  • Other defensive plays of note included Cedric Dozier, David Garner, and Griffin Piatt with passes broken up, and my notes have Cam Walker with a pass defensed as well (whatever that's worth to you). The Damariay Drew hit mentioned in the CalBears.com report was a great fill job on his part -- the kind of thing that Avery Sebastian did really well throughout the '12 season.
  • J.D Hinnant is still struggling a bit with snaps, and you'll hear Coach Dykes talk a bit about that toward the 3:50 mark of the interview.
  • A very fast-paced field goal period began the practice, and although I didn't catch all the kicks, this is what I able to jot down: Langford good from 30 (right hash), McIerny good from 42 (left hash), Beito good from 42, Langford good from 42.
  • I'm guessing that somebody out there is wondering/freaking out about the status of Matt Anderson after that previous note, so let me assure you, he was in attendance. I probably just missed him kicking because the FG unit moved so quickly. Either that, or he got more work in the separate practice that I believe specialists have up at Witter?

Other miscellanea

  • The team is very clearly updating the playlist from day to day, as they added a recently released Drake song somewhere in between Monday and Saturday. The thought of a graduate assistant being forced to scour Spotify for current music amuses me.
  • Red jerseyed players: Matt Cochran, Cormac Craigie (thanks, Ryan Gorcey, for that catch), Devante Downs, Nathan Broussard, Avery Sebastian, Stephen Anderson (a new add, I believe),
  • As mentioned earlier: Bryce Treggs was held out with a hamstring tweak, as was Daniel Lasco. Khalfani Muhammad was held out just because he's splitting time with track, and Chris Harper took only a few reps due to a shoulder injury.
  • Coach Ingram was spotted filming around with an iPad during the pre-practice period. No word on what for, although my curious nature did inquire about that with the one of the team's videographers, Sam Gall. (Shout out to Sam.) Ingram also had a ball with the running backs:
  • If you're not following @calcoachyenser on Twitter, you're really missing out. He's posting several film cutups of what the offensive line is doing every day, and while it's obviously not a complete picture, it's really fascinating stuff. See you again on Wednesday (Thursday if you're reading the recaps).
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