First Saturday practice brought out a healthy handful of folks -- certainly much more than the usual 15-20 who stop by on weekdays, to be sure. I was hoping that we'd see a bit more work from the first team today, but that didn't quite happen, much to my dismay. They actually ended up finishing half an hour early.
Your usual report follows below.
- I believe I saw this look a few days ago, but I definitely saw it today, with the second team line being Aaron Cochran, J.D. Hinnant, Addison Ooms, Jordan Rigsbee, Matt Cochran. Yep. Two Cochrans serving as bookends, although Aaron moved up because Brian Farley was serving as the 1st team tackle on Saturday.
- Taking the Rigsbee at right guard development as a very positive one regarding Granado's effectiveness. Remember the comment I made about how they're hoping they could slide Rigsbee back to his natural guard spot? Well, that'd only happen if they could get better play at tackle...
- As to why Farley was in at first team tackle? Steven Moore was reportedly sore, so they'll give him the next couple days off. His job's not in danger.
- Cameron Walker was the 1st team guy working in the slot today, with Cedric Dozier and Darius Allensworth manning the cornerback positions.
- Anyone who was in attendance on Saturday can probably confirm this, but Tre Watson showed up in force with three straight first downs in the final 11-on-11 session, and damn near a fourth. 10 yard chunk after 10 yard chunk. Working in tandem with Luke Rubenzer behind center, he showed tremendous elusiveness wriggling out to the edge, surprising power up the middle, and of course, continues to catch the ball well out of the backfield. Really the most impressive day of his in the open camps thus far. (I don't mean to kill anyone's vibe but I'm obligated to say that this didn't come against the first string defense).
- Vic Enwere did Vic Enwere type things, although nothing nearly as impressive as Tre.
- The other non-quarterback worth mentioning from Saturday was Noah Westerfield, who I honestly wasn't expecting to appear on the radar for this season. A few days ago he started appearing with the second team in some looks, and now we got our best look at why -- he flushed both Rubenzer and Forrest out of the pocket several times with pressures from the strong side, and also showed good awareness getting his hands up to swat passes. Didn't come down with any, still appreciate the effort. Given how completely ineffective Sina has been when I've spotted him, and Kyle Kragen's apparent ceiling so far, it only made sense to give Westerfield -- a pleasant surprise thus far -- some run. So far, so good. I'll be tracking him more closely in 1-on-1s this week. The two reps I did see him on were split 50/50: one win, one loss. The win came when he bullrushed Farley onto his ass and drew a hold.
- One guy I promised to watch more is Devante Downs, and I can report that I'm personally happy with what I saw Saturday. On the handful of times I was able to look at him exclusively, he was pretty often by the ball, and looking like a guy who has more or less recovered from his ACL injury senior year of high school. Both are good signs of a guy being trotted out at MIKE, and he brought down Vic Enwere almost entirely by himself at one point, although to be fair, Westerfield helped some. Knifed through to get a loss during run drills, too, among a few tackles I saw him make. Only really bad play I noticed was watching him get completely manhandled by one of the guards on a run. There's already a set rotation in front of Downs, but he entered early this year, which could pay dividends at some point down the line. Don't see anyone dislodging the starting backers.
- Linebacker Aisea Tongilava had an interception of Goff in the left flat during 7-on-7s. Coach Dykes named him as one of the impressive young guys appearing so far -- Downs, Westerfield and Tartabull were the others.
- Spent a good deal of practice watching OL/DL run game drills. During this period, 1st team line (minus Moore) versus 1st team defense seemed to result mostly in defensive victories, while the 2nd team line versus the 2nd team defense (possibly even the 3rd team defense -- there's a lot of bodies shuffling), resulted in wins mostly for the offense. John Porchivina and Patrick Laird were two of the guys who touched the end zone here.
- Rugbear, who I had the fortune of sitting by almost entirely by accident, noted that the line was improving in many aspects, but still a bit raw. He mentioned that they were making much better usage of their hands, in particular. They still make too many mistake though, according to him.
- Example: Chris Adcock had one bad snap, which was his first one of camp, and Granado got called for false starting.
- Adcock, it should be said, looks strong and fully recovered. Held his own at center in the limited reps I saw, winning both times against Harrison Wilfley and David Davis, actually pushing the latter into the ground rather handily.
- The play of the day belonged to Cedric Dozier, who leaped up and snatched Luke Rubenzer pass meant for a receiver who had gotten behind him. Impressive interception and recovery, although Luke probably should have gotten a bit more zip on it.
- Sophomore Bear Raid Commander Jared Goff worked mostly only during 7-on-7s. Going by our count, he went 6 of 9 for 2 touchdowns, with the mentioned interception -- his first of camp! -- and a third TD canceled only due to defensive pass interference. The first strike was a beautiful over-the-shoulder lob up to Kenny Lawler with Trey Cheek trailing, and the second was a little underneath route that Trevor Davis took over the plane of the goal line with a dive. Goff also had a pass broken up by Michael Barton.
- He also took a few reps in 3rd down drill, completing all his passes and also scrambling into the open field for another, courtesy of an admittedly questionable block by Coprich, to which Arthur Wainwright took exception -- and a swing -- afterwards. Again, I'm only reporting it because it happened. If you want to spin the narrative to mean the team's undisciplined or whatever, that's on you. As far as I can tell, these dustups are pretty normal to practices in general, and I've been to or read about a lot of them.
- Chase Forrest's time in the 3rd down drill came against the first team defense, and the second team line appeared a bit outmatched today in that regard. He barely was able to settle in at all, converting none of his tries. One attempt resulted in a wildly incomplete pass off his back foot, with Brennan Scarlett bearing down on him.
- Luke Rubenzer's 7-on-7 period resulted in a 6 of 7 performance, with no touchdowns, and a pass broken up by Stefan McClure. I did not personally watch this sequence, but Michael Rollins and Rugbear both did and noticed he was taking a bit long to get rid of the ball. He targeted Stephen Anderson four times on the drive.
- Antoine Davis had a sack of Forrest in the 11-on-11 period, and CalBears.com appears to be giving credit for a sack to Arthur Wainwright that Ryan Gorcey and myself thought went to David Davis and Mike Barton earlier.
- Unofficial drive chart from the final 11-on-11 session:
South to north, highlighted by 25 yard pitch and catch to Matt Rockett, ended on downs
North to south, ended on interception to Dozier
South to north, best drive of day with Watson running in tandem, ended with 38 yard Langford FG
- Spotted Mr and Mrs. Cochran in attendance. Usually Eugene is the one who keeps track of stuff like that.
- Pit crew: Darius White, Hardy Nickerson, Nathan Broussard, Avery Sebastian, Puka Lopa, and according to one other practice observer, Drake Whitehurst.
- Sebastian and White will be worked back into rotation tomorrow, per Coach Dykes. Bringing them along slowly.
- A day after being made live for contact, both Luke Rubenzer and Chase Forrest were back in their normal gold jerseys, indicating that they were not to be touched. And they weren't.
- Trevor Davis appears to be the first punt returner.
- Erik Brown and John Porchivina were the guys called upon to be returners when the team went into practicing punt coverage. For lack of a better term, they were the scout punt returners, essentially.
- Trash can drill made a reappearance! I did so miss you, oh rounded ones.
- I was going to track the kicks from the opening period, but then I realized that the team was working on the blocking up front for field goals, and not really testing anyone's leg from 26 yards. Needless to say, everyone hit all their kicks. James Langford did hit from 38 yards later on in practice, and was the first kicker chosen, if you want to read into that. Matt Anderson's kicks hooked noticeably and dangerously right, even from that distance. He was the only one to nearly miss, from my viewpoint -- admittedly not the best to spot, by the way.