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Cal football fall camp 2014: August 8th practice report

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In which I change the naming scheme for this series, and the tale of our first day in pads awaits.

First, since yesterday's practice was closed, it didn't make sense to keep numbering them in order. That's just confusing, so from here on forward, they'll be named after the day they cover, instead.

Second, for those who are interested in showing up later today -- which is also an open, full-pads practice -- it is supposed to involve some sort of scrimmaging, starting at around 12:30. If you see me working, I must warn you that I am painfully shy.

That about does it for today's announcements.  *cracks knuckles* Here we go.

Depth chart and offensive stuff

Goff and most of the first string took it pretty easy in terms of workload on Friday, allowing Luke Rubenzer and Chase Forrest to take most of the reps. I expect that to change with tomorrow's scrimmage. As such, the second and third teams got a ton of work in, with many players sliding in and out the entire time, and below these are some of the unit charts I was able to record. Take them as you will, because at this point, they're still trying to mix and match to see what they've got.

  • First string offense: no changes to the skills positions, line was Steven Moore, Chris Borrayo, Matt Cochran, Alejandro Crosthwaite, Dominic Granado, going from left to right. Jordan Rigsbee was in pads some, but didn't play at all, if my notes are correct.
  • Second string offensive line: Aaron Cochran, JD Hinnant (switched from right guard to left), Addison Ooms, Kamryn Bennett, Brian Farley.
  • Coach Dykes said yesterday he planned to rest Adcock, which was likely why Cochran stepped in here yesterday. Ooms is and has repped the second team center spot, but the fact that Cochran took these reps indicates to me that the freshman is actually third. Still, not exactly a bad place to be as a walk-on, all things considered.
  • Because I try to watch a bunch of different things, I don't usually do an offensive line section -- but might in the future -- I should mention Crosthwaite had an extremely nice block of Marcus Manley during the full 11 on 11 segment, driving him back 10 yards to free Tre Watson for 15 of his own. Figured that was certainly worth giving shine to.
  • The offensive line is doing a good job of keeping the quarterbacks clean, so far in camp, though. Snapping has been less of an issue overall with Chris Adcock back in there, and it also helps that all three are mobile in their own way -- Jared in feeling the rush and stepping up against it, while the other two find escapability with their legs. Yeah, there's been pressure at times, but it hasn't quite gotten there, usually.
  • Whether that speaks to the high level of quarterback play or bad defensive line play is up to you to decide. I personally have no idea.
  • They only saw limited time today, but Kenny Lawler -- one touchdown in 7-on-7 -- and Maurice Harris -- several nice catches as usual -- had strong days out of the Z position. Lawler had a couple of strange moments though, first getting in a fight with Stefan McClure after a tight catch on the sideline, and then showboating after a grab over AJ Greathouse in the end zone, as well. Greathouse only gave him a shoulder bump in response. Don't think any of this is anything to be concerned about, but it happened, so in my report it goes.

Depth chart and defensive stuff

Somehow ended up with very little notes on these guys today.

  • First string defense: Brennan ScarlettMustafa Jalil (wearing 22 today for whatever reason),Austin ClarkTodd BarrMichael BartonHardy NickersonJalen Jefferson, Stefan McClure, Michael LoweCedric DozierDarius Allensworth.
  • Notable from the above group was Hardy's first real action -- although he only played a little, same as Jalil -- in front of us, and also the fact that Darius Allensworth slid over to left corner, rather than his usual right, with Dozier replacing him. Not sure if that says anything about Walker, just yet, though. Keep an eye out here in days to come.
  • First combination second string defense: Sione SinaHarrison Wilfley, Marcus Manley, Noah Westerfield, Devante Downs, Arthur Wainwright, Quentin Tartabull (free), Griffin Piatt (strong), AJ Greathouse, Caleb Coleman (slot), Trey Cheek.
  • Different defensive line combination: Tony Mekari, Trevor Kelly, Antoine Davis, Kyle Kragen. Kragen did have one pressure when I was watching, forcing the pass incomplete. Still not sure what's going on with Trevor Kelly, but I think by this time next week, we'll have a much better sense of what the rotation should look like.
  • Jake Kearney arrived on campus today, sporting the #30. He was held out of any actual action due to NCAA regulations, though -- he has to have some unpadded practices first before doing any actual contact.
  • Very quickly becoming impressed with Stefan McClure's aggressiveness after the catch. He stripped out another ball today to force an incompletion, his third in two days. Maybe not the fastest guy out there anymore, but he sure is strong as hell.

Freshmen

Before I discuss the two freshmen quarterbacks a bit further, these are the results of the 4 drives they were allotted at the end of practice, in order:

  • 1) Luke Rubenzer - substantial drive (since I've been am obeying requests not tweet play by play and like being able to attend practice, I didn't keep close track) going South to North, ended with Vic Enwere touchdown run of 27 yards
  • 2) Chase Forrest - about a 4-5 play drive going North to South, ended in interception
  • 3) Luke Rubenzer - after interception, team reset the ball going North to South, ended with 20 yard touchdown pass to Kenny Portera
  • 4) Chase Forrest - 2 plays from scrimmage before practice was called to an end
Pretty easy to read between the lines and notice which guy was better, right? But that doesn't tell the story alone by itself, because this must be said -- Luke Rubenzer is a completely, completely different guy when he's allowed to run around, both improvised and not. He had a long 30 yard run in the early part of the day, moved the chains effectively with some different zone read/keepers, and probably drove defensive line coach Fred Tate nuts with all his scrambling.

On that last point: during drive #3, the team erupted when Rubenzer  dropped back and rolled right away from pressure with close to the entire defensive line pursuing him for what appeared to be an eternity. Somehow, he got out of bounds with a gain of two, when he should have been stopped cold for a big loss.

Two more impressive Rubenzer highlights that, for me, said more than anything listed above:
  • One came when he felt heavy pressure up the middle almost immediately and threw to Erik Brown on a hot read to avoid a loss or a sack. Knowing when to run and when not to run is crucial with mobile quarterbacks -- and I'm not saying that he's exclusively that, but he has that streak in him -- so it was nice to see that kind of awareness, at least in a moment. Brown ended up dropping the pass, though. More on him in a second, though.
  • The other Rubenzer highlight was on an escape/rollout that I thought was going to result in an intentional incomplete pass, which would have been fine given the situation. Instead, he somehow found Jack Austin on a comeback route to move the chains. Maybe he meant to find him the whole way. Maybe not.

Unfortunately, Forrest didn't get enough playtime to draw any significant observations. '

His first drive ended early on an interception that was either the result of a tip or his arm being grabbed, which Greathouse came down with.

His second drive involved a scramble for five yards -- he was looking to pass and was driven out of the pocket -- and then an incomplete pass to Matt Rockett, which was a poor decision in itself. Devante Downs was already in the area to pick up any underneath receivers coming his way, and then Griffin Piatt read and broke on it hard. Then, as mentioned, practice was called to an end.

Moving away from the quarterbacks, I'd like to give you two tweets to sum up the Notorious V.I.C's afternoon (nickname courtesy of Atoms):

That's a grown man runner right there, folks, and although I missed seeing the Texan back get touched, Ryan Gorcey says Enwere broke two tackles on the way to the 27 yard touchdown. It wouldn't surprise me if he did, though...I mean...he did do this today...

Other quick thoughts on freshmen:

  • First Quentin Tartabull appearances today on the second team, who had previously only done 1-on-1 drill work. He told me earlier in the week that he was still getting up to speed, which was why he had been held out of a lot of reps. Well, if this is just him starting to learn the calls, it was an impressive debut -- he was awarded a forced fumble against Trevor Davis during the team's 3rd down period and recorded a pass breakup playing deep in the end zone on 7 on 7s. He also got ran over by Vic Enwere on one of freshman's back's carries, so it wasn't flawless or anything, and unless something happens to McClure, I don't see him playing safety this year just yet...but maybe special teams. Let's just say he looks promising so far.
  • So far, only Tre Watson -- who catches the ball out of the backfield probably better than anyone -- and Vic Enwere have made it onto the ALMOST CERTAINLY GOING TO PLAY THIS YEAR list for me.
  • Erik Brown has been largely undistinctive and unnoticeable thus far, especially compared to what I saw from Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs as true freshmen. Those guys were already giving DBs fits from their first practice. Maybe the light goes on next week. Coach Likens did say he can usually tell by then.
  • Devante Downs is drawing high praise from folks, and a lot of action. I will try to keep my eye on him tomorrow.

Special teams and other

  • I already mentioned the competitive energy and chippiness being very high with Lawler earlier, but it appeared again toward the end, when Trevor Kelly jumped offsides, knocking over Matt Cochran and then gave a late bump to Luke Rubenzer -- an obvious no-no. Cochran came over to defend his quarterback, and the scuffle was broken up before it could escalate into anything larger. Both sides got a bit more fired up for the rest of the drive, which ended in the aforementioned Rubenzer touchdown strike.
  • Trevor Davis and Khalfani Muhammad served as the 1s on kickoff return. I will stop writing that now, because I don't expect it to change.
  • Cole Leininger rained consistent 50 yard punts upon Memorial Stadium today. Consistent. 50. Yard. Punts. Yesterday, he was averaging 39 and 4.0 hangtime pretty much every time, by Eugene's count, but it looks like he was only warming up the leg or something, because he certainly unleashed a lot more today. There was even a 60 yard rainmaker in there, too. RAY GUY AWARD, HERE WE COME
  • According to Eugene and Ryan Gorcey, both Brian Treggs and Mark Davis (Trevor's dad) were at practice today.
  • Non-participants spending practice in the dreaded Pit, complete with sledgehammer and giant tire: Puka Lopa, Darius White (shoulder), Avery Sebastian, Nathan Broussard
  • We were supposed to have Lunch with the Coaches III today and run the article next week, but some meetings forced us to reschedule. Sorry y'all. Was really looking forward to that one.
  • Shout out to the boy Manny for joining me and Eugene at practice.