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Cal football fall practice #2 report: Offense wins games, defense wins practices

As the team does some more work in 11s, the defense takes a huge step forward. Looney breaks out at DT, the new defensive backs get the flow of game, and all 3 QBs make some highlight plays

Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports

Now, this is my first time doing one of these, so bear with me. I'll also be doing next Sunday's practice, but if I somehow Coug this one and y'all are fearing for the worst, maybe the Gif Oracle can arrange a coup d'état. Fingers crossed it won't come down to that.

The tweets on the CGB account were done by me and a dude named Peter, and I covered one end of the stadium while he covered the other, until things switched to fall scrimmage and we hung out together. There were also a couple guys sitting next to me for the first 2/3 that were helping survey the field and take notes. So it was decently comprehensive.

Before we get started, here's where the depth chart was at (per the dudes taking notes with me). He didn't mark down wide receivers, since they were rotating around so much

Offense 1st Team

S. Moore--LT

C. Borrayo--LG

J. Rigsbee--C

S. Uluave--RG

B. Farley--RT

D. Lasco--RB

J. Goff--QB

Defense 1st Team

K. Kragen--LDE

J. Looney--LDT

M. Jalil -- RDT

J. Johnson--RDE

M. Barton--LB

N. Broussard-- LB

C. Coleman--Nickel Or J. Jefferson--LB

D. White--CB

D. Allensworth-- CB

D. Drew--S

L. Rubenzer-- S

Offense 2nd Team

A. Cochran--LT

D.J. Hinnant--LG

A. Ooms--C

D. Granado--RG

V. Johnson--RT

V. Enwere--RB

C. Forrest--QB

Defense 2nd Team

T. Barr--LDE

M. Manley--LDT

D. Davis--RDT

D. Wilson—RDE

H. Anoa'i--LB

D. Downs--LB

C. Walker--Nickel

D. Grace--CB

A. Albert--CB

D. Brown--S

K. Vanderbilt--S

Offense 3rd Team

H. Bazakas--LT

R. Gibson--LG

M. Trani--C

K. Bennett--RG

P. Mekari--RT

L. Powell--RB

R. Bowers--QB

Defense 3rd Team

N. Westerfield--LDE

L. Bequette--LDT

T. Mekari--RDT

P. Lopa--RDE

A. Tongilava--LB

R. Davison--LB

J. Willis--CB

C. Dozier--CB

B. Mccrary--Nickel

E. Rambo-- S

T. Turner-- S

As he noted,

"There are a few qualifying remarks necessary:

1.        Some players played on more than one squad (depth).  Puka Lopa played on the 1s as well. H. Anoi'a played on the 3s as well.  I believe Dozier took some reps with the 2's.  R. Davison played at all 3 depths.  On offense I'm pretty sure Granado took some reps. with the ones.

2.       I think the depth on defense is still much more fluid than on offense where the 1st team is almost set in stone.  I think the only remaining questions on offense are:  Will M. Harris play himself into a starting role inside at WR taking the place of S. Anderson and will Granado replace Uluave at RG.

3.       It seems that 2 of the 4 DL positions are set with Kragan at left DE and Jalil at right DT.  Right now it looks like the CBs are set as well with Allensworth and White but I think White may be more solid there than Allensworth.  Coleman seems to be the consistent 1st string nickel back and, in general, 3 of the following 5 guys will be starting at LB:  Jefferson, Broussard, Barton, Nickerson and Kearney."

And practice deets:

Practice was in helmets today, but there was definitely some lively hitting. I could hear some of the contact while halfway up the West edge, and guys were tackling to the ground. All in all, it didn't look like there were any injuries... One DB had to move his arm around a bit after one play, but got back to it and was out on the field afterward. So thumbs up there.

Things started out with some situational passing, QBs doing red zone passing, with a mix of fades, sharp throws, and dumps to RBs in the flat. The passes/catches were a bit sloppy at first but neatened up after the first session. The defense came in and the team did a mix of WR v DB on one end, and RB/OL v DL/LB on the other. Then, there were other matchups, including run-situational 9-on-9 (w/ the CBs out), OL v DL w/ a focus on one pair squaring off to make/prevent a sack, and a good amount of full 11s.

The defense was the clear winner today, and it started up front. The DL was generally dominant against the OL... Looney had a fumble recovery and a sack right off the bat, and looked like he was really holding his own. Even in the run situational session, I think there were more tackles-for-loss than there were positive gains (especially when things started moving to the outside... The OL opened a couple of nice holes on inside runs at some point during that session). After several sessions of getting beat, the entire OL crew was doing up-downs in a circle. They caught up a bit more when it moved to 11s, but overall promising for the DL.

[Note: Dykes mentioned in his post-practice interview that the OL tends to be at a disadvantage until they get some pads on. Today will be shoulder pads, so maybe that'll make a difference]

Battles between WRs and DBs were competitive all through practice. CBs had close coverage on the WRs when it came to deeper throws, though the chemistry and accuracy between QBs and WRs is evident - there were a number of throws from Goff that the receivers caught just over the fingertips of the CBs, and Bowers had a couple good ones as well (didn't see much from Forrest, but maybe that was me just not paying attention enough). There were also a couple picks... The one that I saw was Drew perfectly reading an outside pass and just running in front of it for what would have been a pick-six. Another was from true frosh Evan Rambo, who also had one on Friday. The increased pass rush from the DL was certainly helping the secondary do their job.

The defense sideline was on my side of the field (West half), and they were animated. Lots of cheering on any big plays, and even some smaller ones that were all about guys just getting beat one-on-one. And they were cheering a lot, considering how well the defense was doing.

On the QB front, Bowers looked really really good today. His arm is stronger than it was in spring, and he's got great touch as well (deep balls and fades fell right on point a number of times). During the first session of WR/DBs, with 2 QBs throwing, it started out with Goff and him. Even had a 40-yard toss to Chad Hanson in the corner of the end zone, really beautiful throw.

Later on and during full 11s, Forrest moved back with the 2nd string. He also looks good, with nice touch and accuracy. As another plus, he seems to have solid mobility when moving in the pocket and escaping pressure, especially when it comes to just tucking and running toward the sideline (he had a good 15-yard run at one point). Overall, I think that we have 2 solid backups, and shouldn't fret much about moving Luke to safety (and he's still running with the 1s, so it's not like he's just filling out depth).

Goff was great as usual. I actually just decided to watch what was going on downfield when he was in, rather than check out his throws. He did get picked off once by Drew, early on in 11s though. So didn't take any special notes there.

And other assorted notes:

  • Harris caught nearly everything thrown his way... I saw 3 that stood out in early red zone and WR/DB sessions: one juggling catch he managed to pull in, one spinning-around back shoulder with his arms outstretched, and one jumping ball caught with his arms fully extended.
  • WRs are making good adjustments in space given the coverage by the secondary. So that's helping the QBs
  • Still, WRs today had some slippery fingers, especially at the beginning in red zone drills
  • Ditto Enwere on catches out the backfield at the beginning, but he turned it around come scrimmage time. Just a couple drops that he shouldn't have made. But he had a big day otherwise, including a 30+ yard run down the left side.
  • Coprich looks bulked up and more assertive, wouldn't be surprised to see him get some playing time
  • K. Mohammed is fast. Like, really really fast. He isn't running much between the tackles, but when he gets outside he just beats guys laterally to get at least 5 yards, and often more (had a 20-yarder at one point). He also keeps a nice low center-of-gravity when he's turning the corner
  • While the OL was getting beat most of the day, the 3rd string was holding its own. Especially Ryan Gibson at LG
  • In the post-practice interview, Dykes noted that the OL is usually at a disadvantage when they don't have shoulder pads on, so maybe in the next few days we'll see that even out
  • Chad Hanson is getting some looks and time on the field - keep an eye on him to get some playing time when the season starts
  • DeVante Wilson is large, has straight rectangular shoulders. Definitely looks the part of a starting DE, but running with the 2s for now.
  • Albert is lining up at CB, not S. Running with the 2s and looking pretty good - actually., I'm looking back through the tweets now and his name was mentioned a couple times.
  • I tried to keep an eye on Luke for a bit, but he didn't make any especially notable plays. Still, he looks much more bulked up and like he should be a good player for us this year
  • McClure and Piatt were on the field during early drills, but they held them out of scrimmage. Both guys were wearing knee braces
  • There was one little scuffle between A. Albert and Enwere.
  • Notable absences today: T. Kelly, H. Nickerson.

That's about it for my notes for the day. A couple from the post-practice interviews:

  • Dykes was happy with Evan Rambo, who had 2 interceptions in the past 2 days.
  • He also said that all 7 of the freshman/transfer DBs will likely see some playing time, assuming they stay healthy.
  • Kanawai Noa is standing out as a true freshman that could get some playing time
  • Dykes is happy with Looney. It's nice to have an older brother in the NFL, apparently
  • Lasco's biggest area of improvement is at receiver, and we'll see about how everything really comes together when they're all in pads
  • Kaufman is happy that guys can start working on technique, rather than just understanding scheme
  • He's happy to be working with John Lovett. The connection on understanding scheme & terminology is great
  • Drew is a "pleasant surprise." He's ahead of where he was when he left in Spring ‘14
  • Defense's strength level and experience are "night and day." The skill level of incoming guys is impressive as well
  • Looney is really athletic for his size (280-290), and he's good in all phases, run or pass D
  • Jalen & Broussard are getting some PT
  • McClure is getting some rust shaken off, and it's nice to do it now rather than later


Sonny Dykes press conference

Art Kaufman presser

Today, guy will be in shells, with practice at 3:30. Keep an eye out for tweets from Peter. And go Bears.