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Cal football fall camp 2014: practice report #2

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In which the NCAA mandated no-pads practice period continues and 1700 words await.

Top performers

  • Coach Dykes praised Avery Sebastian after Tuesday, and it's not really hard to see why. Perhaps now a bit more comfortable being back on the field, the senior from Georgia broke up two different passes during practice, and depending on how you want to score it, he had a third one when he collided with Stephen Anderson right as the ball got there. One of the best days I've ever seen him have in that aspect.
  • Same as yesterday, Hawaii transfer Trevor Davis dominated against all the DBs, and is making me have second thoughts on the two receivers I picked to crack 1000 yards. On a particularly vicious double move, Caleb Coleman fell completely hapless as Davis coasted to a touchdown -- he faked an inside release and took a fade right in for the score. He paired this up with a leaping touchdown grab later on in 7-on-7s, too.
  • AJ Greathouse looked damn good once again. Through two days, he leads the team in deflections by a good margin, using a very refined sense of tracking to sniff out any incoming passes. He also showed off some recovery speed -- Maurice Harris put a double move on him to get free, only to see the space close before the ball got there. Though I'm not a professional scout by any stretch of the imagination, it does make me feel good to know I spotted both of these traits on his tape from the get go. [Just let me have this one, okay? Please? Thanks.]
  • Nothing to worry about with Jared Goff. He seems to have added an unstoppable 15 yard back-shoulder to his arsenal and his deep touch looks better than ever. There's been a few cases where the coverage has been very tight, and the pass just happens to be even tighter, and it's clear that a whole offseason of throwing to the top four guys has done nothing but helped the sophomore. Yes, I realize that he hasn't faced a full padded rush and that some of this is being accomplished in 7-on-7, blahblahblah.
  • Oh, yeah. Speaking of 7-on-7, Goff threw at least one whole drive without a single drop or incompletion here, plus a bunch of deeper touchdown strikes that weren't present on Monday's practice. Stud.

Defense

Like Coach Dykes mentioned, it will be hard to make evaluations of this group until they're really allowed to get loose. Thus, take everything below here with a grain of salt. They are simply what I'm seeing in general and will continue to be shaped going forward. [I actually write most of this column before I listen to the post-practice presser, I swear.]

  • Case in point of how difficult it's been to get a gauge on things: Nathan Broussard, who I've been trying to watch specifically at the MIKE. Unfortunately, because they're not going full-contact, he keeps pulling up short on plays, leaving me unclear as to whether or not he's actually capable of making them. He's close a lot of the time, though. Actually, let me clarify that last point -- I do not mean Broussard is not trying or to imply he's not giving full effort. It's just hard to tell if he's capable of making the play because as he's arriving, they call it dead and start the next rep.
  • Jonathan Johnson, who hadn't been seen much the first day and a half, flushed Luke Rubenzer from the pocket twice in the final 11-on-11 session, and deflected a pass, too. Rubenzer, to his credit, delivered a beautiful on the run completion during one of these instances.
  • Todd Barr's a guy we haven't heard a lot of recently, but chipped in with some decent pressure and at least one tackle for loss during the full team periods.
  • My concern with Stefan McClure so far is in how he moves laterally from the free safety spot. He's not looking great in 1-on-1s, although a bit better in team drills. Going forward and reading the play though, he's fine. Been closing out on guys in the open field really quickly.
  • Saw David Davis on the field for the first time, so he's definitely there. This item is because I was asked about him specifically, but nothing remarkable just yet.
  • The most impactful pass-rusher through two days has, of course, been Brennan Scarlett, who needs a running mate in the worst way. Once again drawing holds and pressures all over the place. Haven't seen much from Kragen thus far, and at least as of Tuesday, the DL remains a huge question mark overall.
  • From the very, very limited reps I've watched, the DL ie winning the 1-on-1s, but losing most of the run drills. (Don't read too much into this, since the 2s and 3s got a lot of work when I was looking in that direction.)

Freshmen

  • A much better day from Luke Rubenzer this time around, who, perhaps unsurprisingly, looks most comfortable on the run. Much more consistent overall, although I'm not tracking statistics here yet. I may start doing so at future practices, though. He did throw what I thought was his best ball of camp on a corner route, getting enough velocity on it to beat two trailing defensive backs. Not an easy window by any means. Only major mistake was a very bad floater that was almost intercepted by Cedric Dozier, on a corner route that just hung up.
  • Probably the most surprising development over the first two days has been Chase Forrest, whose arm is more than serviceable. His effectiveness in the run game has surprised all of us sitting in the stands, really -- both he and Rubenzer are very, very far ahead of Goff in terms of general mobility. Squirreled out of several tight spots once again. One area that's still weak for him is that he does take a bit long to get the ball out, as he's going through his reads. That's just an adjustment thing for now, as windows are tighter at this level and all that.
  • My observation opportunities have been somewhat limited for Erik Brown, but I liked one moment from him in particular, as he turned his body to shield the ball from an oncoming Griffin Piatt.
  • Caught a few glimpses of Aisea Tongilava doing well to hold the edge, indicating he's already very, very strong in his base. I also saw him getting coached up on how to rip past and shed blockers after a rep during a run defense drill, so he's a work in progress. I wrote about his tape that I thought he was a really good player when he knows where to go and isn't thinking too much. That may not be for a bit.
  • Spotted Chris Palmer with some nice burst off the line during the OL/DL drills. Haven't caught him in during any team segments yet though.
  • Tre Watson can really, really catch the ball out of the backfield. Saw him reel one in today looking pretty much like a wide receiver in doing so...then I remembered that he was originally lined up behind the quarterback to start the play.
  • Addison Ooms saw some snaps with the first team line at the end of practice, though I am told that that was due to Chris Adcock getting tired more than anything. Don't think the center job is up for grabs.

Depth chart

All notes here are only points of interest. I'll probably be tracking this section more formally beginning Fridayish.

  • Ray "Unc" Davison, Devante Downs (MIKE), and Arthur Wainwright were spotted as one set of 2s for linebackers. The 1s continue to be Barton, Jefferson, and Broussard.
  • Barr worked on the strong side at LDE, opposite Sione Sina as the second team end.
  • Kickoff return unit was headed by Trevor Davis and Khalfani Muhammad on first team, with Bryce Treggs and Tre Watson taking the second shift.
  • As mentioned in the post-practice presser, there were no freshmen on kick return spotted today besides Watson. Flash back to last year's comment about how Tommerdahl had never played so many freshmen before, and you have to imagine some drastic improvement here.

Other

  • Malik Psalms was in attendance for practice. He is not only noticeably taller than Trey Cheek (who stood by Psalms when I saw him) but also very, very long legged. This is the kind of frame that if he remains at cornerback, is heavily desired. Of course, unfortunately for us, most schools are starting to catch on.
  • The team did up-downs after practice, likely in part because of the fight.
  • Quote of the day: "I'm TELLIN YOU D, YOU AIN'T READY FOR THIS SHIT!" -- Daniel Lasco, right as the practice was about to begin
  • Not sure he plays much this year, but I'm really really intrigued by Ray Hudson. Not the tallest, but easily the thickest of all the receivers, which he uses to fight for a lot of passes. Jack Austin's another guy who might see time once the depth chart ahead of him clears out eventually. Both use their physicality really nicely.
  • Darius White did not participate. He's still nursing a sore shoulder from yesterday.
  • Whoever controls the EXCELLENT Cal playlist, if you want me to get ridiculously hype instead of covering the action, you are doing your job. Waka Flocka is an an almost surefire way to do so.

Oh yeah. The fight.

  • There's no getting around mentioning this one, so here's the details: as Austin Clark pursued Tre Watson from behind, the sixth-year defensive tackle dragged Watson down by his neck, during what was supposed to be a low-contact practice. Immediately, Clark was met by J.D. Hinnant, who came to the defense of Watson, and ended up starting several other smaller brawls as a result.
  • I'm not sure I agree with Ryan Gorcey's characterization that the fight was indicative of a new team, necessarily, but they did get very fired up afterward. Practice continued without incident. I wouldn't make a big deal out of it or read much into things, but when you're reporting what happens at practice...well...a fight happened.