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Cal football fall camp 2014: August 12th practice report

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In which there are pads, and the offense rebounds in a big way.

Full pads and contact after a 2-a-day yesterday.

For some reason, this ended up being the longest version yet. Sorry in advance. Let's get into it.


Ten guys were named in the above video as potential immediate contributors, and it made the most sense to begin my report there. I've listed them below and shared some thoughts on each, in order of how likely I think they are to play at this exact point. Keep in mind that this is week two of camp, and that these things change on a dime. Remember how we pulled Borrayo's redshirt with 5 games to go last year? Case in point.

These first four range from complete locks -- the first two -- to probable.

  • Devante Downs - Confirmed today by Dykes; has been running a lot with first team MIKE. One nice thing about him is that he has more athletic upside than either Hardy Nickerson or Nathan Broussard. The team still doesn't seem really comfortable leaving him out there in obvious pass situations -- and probably likes Barton and Jefferson more in that regard -- so he's often been coming off the field in nickel looks, but from what I've seen, he's less clearly deficient here than Nickerson ever was. If he plays, then there might be some growing pains here, yeah, as he gets more and more used to where he's supposed to be and things like that. Liveable ones, though.
  • Vic Enwere - Unique skill set not offered by any other back on the roster, also as close to a lock as there could be. Think of him as in the Frank Gore mold, or a more talented Tyler Gaffney, who I once dubbed a "human war chariot." Guess that makes Enwere like, a steamroller on legs or something. @Rob11hwang suggested "goliath." Broke out with his longest run of practice today, but more on that later.
  • Tre Watson - Not sure how much, since he does some of what Khalfani Muhammad does, but he's likely to hit the field in some form. Could be the backup kick returner. Could be the back they try to get out in space on catches, or whatever. Chances nudged even further north with the Jeffrey Coprich foot sprain. More reps go to the freshman.
  • Noah Westerfield - Really starting to emerge since the last time I did one of these lists, will probably be in the defensive end rotation simply because no other effective ends have appeared. To his credit, he's got length, and is giving the second team a handful in one-on-ones, working across Brian Farley mostly. Power and speed will keep coming as he gets further into S&C, but he's got some of that right now too. I can tell that Farley certainly respects his -- in the 1-on-1s today, he started setting up further outside on his first step to try to slow Westerfield from coming on outside. The only problem is that he immediately darted into the vacated space for a sack, instead.

For each of the guys named in this section, I think we're getting into not likely territory.

  • AJ Greathouse - Has been one of the best corners in this last week and a half and more visibly impressive than any other defensive freshman -- including Downs, in my opinion. Unfortunately, he's stuck behind at least three, maybe four guys once Darius White gets back, and not necessarily for anything he's doing wrong specifically. Could be our fourth cornerback if we ever slide into dime packages, though, or something like that. Very, very surprised that my evaluation of him on tape ended up pretty spot on.
  • Luke Rubenzer - I think the team believes highly in his talent -- they already have a couple of run plays that only come out when he's behind center, for example -- and he could take over for Goff down the line, obviously. His position on this list has less to do with what he has or hasn't done in camp, and more of the fact that as long as Goff is healthy, they almost certainly won't need him. Now, if Goff gets injured this year, we have an interesting dilemma on whether or not he or Hinder -- who knows the offense and can at least run things smoothly enough -- will take over. Let's hope we don't have to return to this point. Also clearly has moments of freshman-hood at times, including one today, which I'll discuss in a second. Goff was already a bit further refined from day one.
  • Quentin Tartabull - Played well in his limited reps, and had yet another interception today in the 11-on-11s. Probably burns his redshirt only if something happens to Stefan McClure, but he looks like he'd be better served getting more comfortable with all the mental aspects of college ball. It's been a while since we had a real impact guy at safety, and honestly, I've typed his name more times in practice than almost any guy we've trotted out at free in the last 4 or 5 years -- he could be a real playmaker if we just let him come along at his own pace. I would not cross him or the two guys below him off as possible special teams contributors though, and he told me earlier this summer he'd like to play this year.
  • Hamilton Anoa'i and Aisea Tongilava - Same situation as Tartabull; both could really use the year to get more ready down the line, both could also play special teams. They're ranked lower than Tartabull for having less impact, and of these two linebackers, the latter has flashed more than the former throughout camp, with neither really having caught my eye consistently. Seeing the field would also take something else happening to the depth ahead of them, which currently is at least five deep: Jalen Jefferson, Michael Barton, Devante Downs, Edward Tandy, Arthur Wainwright, plus whatever the status is with Nickerson and Broussard. Maybe even Jake Kearney, who took his first action in pads today. That's a lot of names they can roll through before needing either of these guys.
  • Chase Forrest - Fading a little bit now that the team's done more contact and rush work. Based on rep allocation, firmly installed as the third quarterback. Still been a pleasant surprise overall.

Practice details

  • A couple of new drills today -- the offensive and defensive lines spent some of the early part of practice in the north end of the field doing an unofficial bull-ring, or at least a modified version of it, as both positional groups circled around to watch a pre-determined matchup. Grant Marek and Mike Vernon have some clips, which I've embedded for you:

  • The other new drill involved the LBs and the RBs. Don't know the name of this one exactly, but essentially, a small part of the field is sectioned off. The goal: LBs make a stop. RBs, score, without exiting the sectioned off area. Some of the reps I charted during this drill:

Jeffrey Coprich versus Arthur Wainwright

Coprich win after a sick juke

John Porchivina versus Aisea Tongilava

Porchivina win, drags Tongilava the last few yards into the end zone

Khalfani Muhammad versus Jake Kearney

Kearney win

Tre Watson versus Edward Tandy

Tandy win

Vic Enwere versus Jake Kearney

Enwere win, Kearney dove at him early and missed

[didn't get the name of the back] versus Wainwright

Wainwright win

  • [WR/DB 1-on-1s] Stefan McClure (INT, PD) and Quentin Tartabull (PD) among the guys who had strong efforts when I was watching this segment, which featured mostly Hinder throwing. On offense, it was the usual suspects: Bryce Treggs, Chris Harper, and Kenny Lawler. Really liked this moment in particular:
  • [WR/DB 1-on-1s] Additional note: Stefan McClure is crazy strong, man. On his interception, he pressed Kyle Wells -- a 6'4, 240 pound preferred walk-on who weighs 50 more pounds than him -- on his corner route so hard that by the time Hinder threw the ball, McClure was the only one in position to actually catch it.
  • [3rd down drills] With Steven Moore and Jordan Rigsbee both available, Jared Goff looked a whole lot more comfortable here, completing a deep pass to Bryce Treggs that went for a touchdown on one of his reps.
  • [3rd down drills] Wearing a live white jersey on Tuesday, Rubenzer went second during segment and produced a huge highlight of his own -- a 25 yard run that either showcased how fast he is, or was partly influenced by the team not actually wanting to hit him. He faced off against this look first: Noah Westerfield, Chris Palmer, David Davis, Antoine Davis, Arthur Wainwright, Edward Tandy, Caleb Coleman (slot), Trey Cheek, AJ Greathouse, Griffin Piatt, Quentin Tartabull, Trey Cheek. He also threw in a long completion to Maurice Harris during his four plays.

11-on-11 full team period

Drive chart first, with details to follow:

Goff (1st attempt, south to north)

Ended via interception/sack

Rubenzer (1st attempt, south to north)

Ended via Rubenzer to Harper 65 yard touchdown pass

Goff (2nd attempt, north to south)

Ended via Goff to Lasco 75 yard touchdown pass

Rubenzer (2nd attempt, south to north)

Ended via interception/sack

Goff (3rd attempt, north to south)

Ended via Goff to Davis 25 yard touchdown pass

Rubenzer (3rd attempt, south to north)

Ended via Patrick Laird 75 yard touchdown run

  • As you can tell, it was not a great day for the defense, which suffered quite a few big plays, although it was mostly the second and third team on the field during those parts.
  • The defense toyed around with some new nickel looks to start. Part of this was due to Darius Allensworth being sick, I'm sure, and some of it was simply them toying around in general, as defenses are wont to do. This 3-3-5 set was the first one on the field: Brennan Scarlett, Mustafa Jalil, Todd Barr, Michael Barton, Jalen Jefferson, Devante Downs (MIKE), Griffin Piatt, Michael Lowe, Cedric Dozier, Cam Walker, Stefan McClure (nickel).
  • Before continuing with the notes from 11-on-11, let me also say now that Cedric Dozier has been the most improved corner by far -- and certainly the one making the most plays -- with probably 4 or 5 picks in the open practices...
  • ...and he had another when Goff was "sacked" -- or at the very least, pressured -- by Michael Barton, and then threw it up for Dozier to come down with. He was grabbed by the receiver and then lateraled to an oncoming Michael Lowe, in one of those Hollywood sports movie miracle plays. That would end Goff's first drive.
  • Rubenzer flashed his running abilities a bit on his first attempt, escaping a very active Arthur Wainwright several times before tossing a touchdown to Chris Harper.
  • Goff's responding score was on a checkdown to Lasco, who showcased all of the skills that make Cal fans so, so, so hopeful he makes it through the year healthy this time. Here's your second hand play-by-play: after making the catch, Lasco outran Antoine Davis to the corner, ran straight up the field into an on-coming David Garner, gave Garner the slightest shoulder juke to evade him -- while still moving himself -- and then turned on the jets to erase any pursuit angles from the opposite side. Third team or not, that's a hell of a highlight.
  • So, remember when I said Luke Rubenzer still looks like a freshman at times? He showed it on his second Tuesday drive, scrambling too long to take a sack from Jake Kearney...and then there was the second sack he took, which was a function of him refusing to quit on the play. Instead of taking a loss, Rubenzer kept rolling around against pressure, then found himself simply winging one downfield, which Quentin Tartabull picked off.
  • Vic Enwere had a 40+ yard gain before Rubenzer's interception though, finding daylight after a fantastic block from Dominic Granado and a poor gap fill by Tartabull. One more missed tackle by the cornerback later, and the Texas native was on his way, chugging down the field like a runaway locomotive. He posted a clip of this on Instagram for a minute last night before I guess someone on the coaching staff asked him to take it down.
  • Third score was kind of a fairly typical play at this point: a beautiful Jared Goff rainbow to Trevor Davis in the corner of the end zone. Three words for you: #trash #can #drill.
  • As noted, walk-on freshman Patrick Laird eventually ended the day's events with a long touchdown run of his own.
  • Yeah, so, the 2nd and 3rd string defenses didn't play well today, and it could have been even worse, because the receivers were a bit sloppy during all six drives, with no less than three sure touchdowns ruined: one by a normally sure-handed Maurice Harris, one by Trevor Davis in the end zone, and one that was kind of broken up by AJ Greathouse against Chris Harper (Goff throwing). They still ended up scoring a whole bunch, but still...

More depth chart

  • Top news for today: Jordan Rigsbee returned to the 1s and played right tackle along the same four usual starters, pushing Dominic Granado to the 2nd team right tackle spot and Matt Cochran back to 2nd team right guard.
  • Erik Brown took some reps at outside wide receiver during the 1-on-1s. I'm almost positive he won't play this year, but file that under interesting.
  • After being a nonparticipant most of the first week, Puka Lopa and his unmissable mane were spotted on the field on Tuesday, doing some drill stuff.
  • As mentioned above, Jake Kearney saw his first contact action on Tuesday as well, appearing in some of the 2s units.


  • Cole Leininger has one of those bionically enhanced legs.
  • Backup running back Jeffrey Coprich suffered a sprain toward the second half of practice today, but was able to get off the field with a little help. He was seen riding off on an injury cart afterwards, though. Coach Dykes said it didn't look too major.
  • The other injury news we have for you today involves Nathan Broussard, who had something flare up with his leg during the pre-practice period on Tuesday. Coach Dykes called it a sore knee. If he misses time, expect Devante Downs to be the primary beneficiary.
  • Footloose was on the speakers today. FOOTLOOSE. STOP THIS MADNESS, CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL DJs. STOP IT.
  • According to Coach Dykes, Darius White will be returning to do some individual drills tomorrow, although he may not take a ton of contact before Northwestern. Where he plays into the rotation, we'll see. Certainly disappointing not to have more of him so far, for all parties involved.
  • Practice is closed today, so I will be back with you Friday morning.