For the first time since 2012, the California Golden Bears will have a full spring game! To give you some reference, in 2012 Gotye was killing it with the grammatically incorrect "Somebody that I Used to Know", the Avengers had just assembled rather than Civil War'd, and Zach Kline was the hot new upstart who threw the spring game–winning touchdown; my life was still a depressing mess, so plus ça change and junk. Sonny Dykes has yet to have a spring game here due to a lack of depth, so this will be a new experience for all of Bear Territory.
This will be a (mostly normal) game of football with typical scoring as opposed to years past that had scoring opportunities for the defense. I suspect the most prominent change will be a lack of punting because there will be "a preset number of offensive possessions for each team" and "special teams play will be modified." I'm sure at least David Seawright will lament this transgression against the sanctity of special teams.
In what I hope will be a new tradition for Dykes, the Blue team will be captained by all seniors (OL Steven Moore, LB Hardy Nickerson, and DB Cameron Walker) to face off against the young guns of Gold, led by a triad of juniors (RB Vic Enwere, WR Chad Hansen, and DL James Looney). I'd be a fan of continuing this as a way to honor seniority and maybe even provide a minor incentive to staying with the program. Because I bet Jared Goff would have stayed behind for the opportunity to captain a team during a scrimmage! The captains drafted their respective teams (presumably based on football ability and not who has the sweetest pogs or whatever it is these kids are into these days) and the rosters have been released on CalBears.com.
The Blue team
We all know that the quarterback battle will be on everyone's mind and the Blue team might reveal a little about how the coaches are leaning or some differences between two of the frontrunners...
The blue team will be quarterbacked by none other than @zachklineQB and Ross Bowers— Cameron Walker (@CameronBW3) April 13, 2016
The quarterback battle seems to have come down to Ross Bowers, Chase Forrest, and Zach Kline, so seeing which QB starts for Blue (considering that Dykes and OC Jake Spavital will be coaching both teams) may be a bit of a tip of their hand. Additionally, we might get a direct comparison of the two against the same Gold defenses.
Filling out the rest of the Blue offense, key RBs will likely be Khalfani Muhammad (a member of our three-headed RB monster) and Billy McCrary III, who has thrived in his new position and allegedly been giving the defense fits. We're so silly-deep at WR that it's probably not even worth naming key players as we've got fresh young talent (Austin Aaron and Brandon Singleton), veterans (Raymond Hudson and Patrick Worstell), and the freshman phenom Melquise Stovall. On the offensive line, Blue is also loaded with returning talent (All-Pac-12 Chris Borrayo, Dominic Granado, and Captain Moore) and guys with potential like Semisi Uluave and Patrick Mekari, who's hyped up as being able to play all five positions.
Other notable players for the blue team offense: Melquise Stovall, Brandon Singleton, Steven Moore, Billy McCrary (don't sleep I beg of you)— Cameron Walker (@CameronBW3) April 13, 2016
Defense is much less of a mystery as Captain Walker has revealed the full starting line-ups.
Upfront, the Blue line will be anchored by Marcus Manley (who played in all 13 games last year) and Luc Bequette (who has been earning rave reviews all offseason). They've also got Cameron Saffle at DE who has been developing into a pass-rushing monster to replace our permanently released Kragen.
Blue team starting D-Line: @ShmarcusStanley @bigbeq12 @cameronsaffle @Zeandaej— Cameron Walker (@CameronBW3) April 13, 2016
Proving our move to the 4-2-5 Nickle, we've got Captain Nickerson and Nam's favorite, Uncle Raymond Davison.
Blue team starting linebackers: @younghardy_ @rayraydavison— Cameron Walker (@CameronBW3) April 13, 2016
Beyond Walker, the Blues are somewhat inexperienced in the secondary. Although he won't be starter, Luke Rubenzer will be a safety for Blue instead of quarterbacking.
Blue team staring secondary: myself, @Khari2Smoove @BoKnows96 @MalikPsalms @Only1DGrace— Cameron Walker (@CameronBW3) April 13, 2016
The Gold team
Mum's the word for the Gold team, so let's dive deep into some speculation!
At quarterback, Gold's got Chase Forrest and Max Gilliam; the general feel out of practice seems to be that it's looking more and more likely for Gilliam to redshirt, so look for Forrest to start. Whoever's at quarterback, he'll be fortunate enough to share the backfield with Tre Watson and Captain Enwere (for a little touch of power and highly improbable runs). These two are expected to contribute heavily to our running back committee in 2016, so Gold likely has the edge on the ground.
Again, the Bears in general are just loaded with talent at receiver, but some of the names that pop out for the Gold squad include hyped-up, but unproven talent (Greyson Bankhead and Carlos Strickland) and some guys with a bit more experience (Captain Hansen and Vic Wharton III at Tennessee). The Gold offense will be anchored by Aaron Cochran and Addison Ooms, but look for Kamryn Bennett, Ryan Gibson, and Michael Trani to show off during their first extended exposure in front of the fans.
On defense, the Gold squad shows immediate strength at defense line with experienced tackles Captain Looney and Tony Mekari and ends DeVante Wilson. Their linebackers are headlined by Devante Downs (who showed flashes of excellence at sacking the quarterback) and Derron Brown (who has reportedly thrived in his new role after transitioning from safety). Gold will be a little inexperienced at safety—though you should keep an eye on Jaylinn Hawkins, who was a highly-coveted WR/ATH recruit—but that will be offset with 13-game starter Darius Allensworth and fan-favorite (video) Antoine Albert at CB.
The Spring Game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks this Saturday at 11 a.m., so don't forget to tune in or just show up!