In the post-Goff land of Cal football, one would think there would be no hope. Considering the level of pessimism over the years among Cal fans it's not a far out concept, but this is a Cal team flush with talent where they lost the most. This Saturday's spring game promises to be a showcase of the wide receiver depth accrued by the Bears in the past few years, as well as a showcase for an improving defense and a first large-scale look at the post Goff quarterbacking situation. Seniors Stephen Moore, Cameron Walker and Hardy Nickerson will captain the blue team, while juniors Vic Enwere, Chad Hansen, and James Looney will oppose them on the Gold side. Their chosen teams are here.
We do have quite a few storylines going into this, so let's start with the most important:
Yes, we're replacing four-year punter and recipient of many mining jokes Cole Leininger. Sadly, this may not be the arena for finding someone to punt us to the Rose Bowl, as there will not be live punts or kickoffs. The competition between Dylan Klumph, Noah Beito, and Harry Adolphus will have to wait until the fall. My apologies to fans of punting.
The QB Race:
By far the biggest question coming in and out of camp comes from trying to replace his holiness, first of his name, first of the picks, number sixteen in our programs and number one in our hearts, Jared Goff. That unenviable task comes down to the Blue team's Zach Kline and Ross Bowers and the Gold team's Chase Forrest and Max Gilliam. To this point, Forrest has been the front runner, though there haven't been any defining moments to put him far in the lead. Bowers and Kline have more arm strength, with Kline boasting a cannon, and Gilliam is an excellent runner, but Forrest has been the most consistent of the four up to this point. Luke Rubenzer had been in the competition until recently, when he moved back to playing safety. Expect Forrest to get the lion's share of the throws for the Gold team, and Bowers and Kline to split for the Blues.
The People They Throw To:
Cal is replacing their top 6 receiving targets from a year ago, but there may be more depth than ever when it comes to catching the ball. Melquise Stovall has had the best spring according to multiple pundits, and he will be a sight at the Y spot for the Blue team. His backup at the spot, Greyson Bankhead will also be in the rotation during the year and will be starting for the Gold team. This will be the first we see of guys like Vic Wharton, the Tennessee transfer, Jordan Veasy, a JC transfer, and Jordan Duncan, the early entry from Mississippi. I'd also be on the lookout for Austin Aaron, redshirt freshman from Napa, who's not exactly high on the depth chart but will undoubtedly be in the rotation when the season begins. He has great size for the Z position.
The Resurrection of Noah Westerfield:
One Noah Westerfield, someone who started as a true freshman then fell off during his sophomore year has made a comeback that rivals that of the legendary Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake. While Westerfield did not have a friendship with Hulk Hogan to help get him back in the game, he probably used some of Hulk's tips to break out of his sophomore slump and earn his starting spot across from Devante Wilson. He has a motivated Cameron Saffle on his heels, but he's returned to form with an excellent spring.
Dealing With the Injury to Demariay Drew
Drew was one of the most important pieces in the secondary until he incurred the wrath of the god of knees, going down with a knee injury that could take him out for a while. So Saturday is the time for the safeties to step up. Cam Walker and Darius Allensworth are set pieces from last year, so the battle for the other three spots is a big deal. Currently Antoine Albert, Khari Vanderbilt, and Evan Rambo are in those final three spots, and Rambo is someone to watch solely for his progression from last year. Trey Turner is also in play, along with Jaylinn Hawkins. There's a lot of athleticism in this category, which comes from a bunch of unproven talent. They're definitely a big group to watch for.
The spring game is set for 11 AM on Cal Day and is also on the Pac-12 Network. It should be an entertaining start to Cal Day festivities, and I can not recommend it enough. Go Bears!