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Cal Football Fall Camp 2017: Practice Notebook #5


NCAA Football: Utah at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears finished off their mock game week with a practice of full pads and scrimmage. All of the Quarterbacks got plenty of opportunities and the other Bears had a chance to show off their improvement. Let’s take a look into some of the highlights from Saturday’s practice!

  • Chris Landgrebe got some chance to kick some field goals to start practice. He knocked in two, but got one blocked and kicked one off the right upright.
  • Gabe Siemieniec got some opportunities, too. He made one from 26; hit the upright from 39, but the ball ricocheted in; and missed from 43.
  • Overall Ross Bowers, Brandon McIlwain and Chase Garbers all had really good days throwing the ball and moving the chains. Chase Forrest looked to have a solid day, but threw two interceptions both to Jaylinn Hawkins.
  • Elijah Hicks is the truth. The swagger, confidence and sheer force of will going after the ball and players is going to make him an absolute stud at corner for a long time. He made some great plays during scrimmage and did not back down from any 1-on-1 coverage against D-Rob. It looked like he played with the 1s on a few plays.
  • Devante Downs has been really impressive. He’s impressive in man coverage and in zone, but his blitzing ability has been something that has exploded this camp. He blows into the backfield and is a terrible mismatch with any WR/FB that was to pick him up.
  • Alex Funches continued his steady rise and looks to be a lock to play on the 2-deep. He has very sneaky speed and can get by his blocker fairly well.
  • The defense as a whole had an outstanding day. Multiple turnovers, multiple sacks, multiple tackles for loss, and multiple stops on 3rd down. The most impressive were the sacks and also a 3-down stand on the 2-yard line.
  • The OL has done very well in the run game, offering a lot of very solid running lanes for the RBs. The OL in the passing game was inconsistent. Pockets collapsed too quickly or there wasn’t an exit route for the QB to scramble.
  • Gerran Brown continues to show up in some highlight-reel plays and it looks like the walk on is going to be a player for the Bears this season.
  • Can Brandon McIlwain please be eligible this season? I’m serious. I’m not sure if he would win the starting job, but having an electric option such as him would be amazing. He had me out of my seat three times during the scrimmage period. First was when he mishandled the ball on the snap, but recovered the ball and ran upfield for the first down. The second was when he scrambled to get out of pressure, reset his feet, and then found Patrick Laird downfield (although Laird dropped the catch). Third, when he surveyed the field through his reads and found Taariq Johnson in the left corner of the endzone and threw an absolute dime to him; it was about from the 20-yard line. He has that something special that makes you think he is going to pull off the improbable when he has the ball in his hands.
  • Biaggio Ali-Walsh got a good run at RB and looks to be a stud RB in the making. He had some solid up the middle runs, one of which was a touchdown from the goal line. With the RB situation top heavy—due to the likes of Senior Vic Enwere, Senior Tre Watson and R-Junior Patrick Laird—I fully expect to see the staff use a redshirt on Biaggio to build his physical a little bit and develop his blocking.
  • Zion Echols has really great speed. He bounced a few runs to the outside and even broke off a 35-yard gain. He’ll be down on the depth chart, but he’s very able to take on a role if need be.
  • Matty Ice Anderson continued his kicking prowess over the scrimmage session, knocking in PATs and even a 50-yarder with ease. Nothing can faze the redshirt senior this season.
  • Ross Bowers was the best slinger yesterday. He had great touch on his throws and consistently was able to find open receivers without having to use his check-downs. If he did use his check-downs, Bowers made sure to get it to him quickly and in space so that he could try and make a play.
  • Evan Weaver is very good at his new position now. It looked like he was going to have to take some time to develop as an OLB, but now it looks as though all he needs is some more snaps and gametime at the position. He was all over the field making plays in the backfield and chasing runners down.
  • You’ve heard about the energy that the DBs try and bring to every single second. There was no better day than yesterday to witness that. Gerald Alexander has these guys playing with such energy that every PBU, blitz, hard hit, INT, has the entire DB section jumping and yelling at their teammates. You can see that this will trickle down to the defense as a whole and that they are playing with a fire that doesn’t look to get extinguished.
  • Chinedu Udeogu forced a fumble and Josh Drayden scooped it up and ran it back for a TD. The best part was seeing James Looney run with them and then try and block D-Rob, who was coming full steam after Drayden.
  • Josh Drayden finished off practice with an interception off of a fumble by Vic Enwere that was forced by Ray Davison. It was a crazy play because before Vic ended up with it, Ray Davison actually tipped the ball into the air.

What do you think of how the defense is progressing? What would you like to see in these final weeks? Let us know in the comments below!