Fall Camp opened today for the 2011 California Golden Bears. The team went through a fast-paced opening practice at Witter Field, with noticeable energy and enthusiasm – from both the players and coaches. Cal Football Blog doesn’t have any live photos at the moment, but here are some of our observations from the first day:
The team worked in helmets and shorts – no tackling – as practices in shells/pads don’t start until next week. The first thing that jumped out, beginning with pre-practice stretching, was the overall energy and “togetherness” of the team. After stretching, practice started with drills (broken down by position group), then Offense-only/Defense-only sessions, followed by 7v7 & 11v11 work. Overall, it seems like Coach Blasquez’s summer S&C program has had a noticeable positive effect – not only physically (guys generally looked bigger/stronger/faster) but also mentally. We constantly saw guys encouraging each other and hustling quickly from drill to drill – no loafing – while the coaches’ booming voices were heard in between.
Lupoi (Tosh! – more on this later) and Thompson have particularly loud voices, while Kiesau and Michalczik seemed to fit right in at their old stomping grounds. We saw Coach Tedford actively coaching as well – at one point early on in practice, he gathered the whole team in a huddle, telling them in a firm voice: “THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS BALL SECURITY!” Coach P (Pendergast) was a fixture in the defensive backfield (alongside Ambrose) giving coaching tips and directing defensive plays during the team sessions. JT & Coach M seemed to be sharing playcalling duties on offense.
Seeing the highly touted freshmen class suited up was also a welcome sight. Rookies such as Vei Moala (#55), Brennan Scarlett (#17), Jason Gibson (#19), Stefan McClure (#21), Kam Jackson (#9), Brendan Bigelow (#5), Maurice Harris (#3), Kyle Boehm (#6), Daniel Lasco (#25), Jordan Rigsbee (#73), along with their fellow freshmen, saw their first action as Bears today. They were joined by spring EEs Avery Walls (#4) and Darren Ervin (#34), as well as CJ Anderson (#9), who has completed his transfer requirements and is now enrolled. Moala is a HUGE dude, as confirmed by Rivals Cal writer Ryan Gorcey:
Tiny moala gave me a big hug when he saw me. 358 pounds of man right there.—
Ryan Gorcey (@RGBearTerritory) August 07, 2011
Many of us Cal fans will be excited to hear that Brendan Bigelow – rumored to be fully recovered from his knee injuries – participated in RB drills and 7v7 & 11v11 sessions. He was wearing a brace on his right knee (reportedly as a precautionary measure), and while he didn’t look to be fully 100% yet, he showed flashes of the speed and moves that made him such a heralded recruit. Unfortunately, Jordan Morgan was not on the field, as he will be reportedly grayshirting this fall due to an injury.
Here is a very rough depth chart & some positional notes, from what we could gather. Please note that being the first day, there was a lot of mixing/matching going on – other than entrenched starters such as Marvin Jones/Keenan Allen or Mychal Kendricks/DJ Holt – especially among the 2nd/3rd team units.
QB Maynard / Bridgford / Mansion / Hinder / Boehm
*** Maynard looked solid, and appears to be the clear #1 at this point. He often took snaps out of the shotgun, and his mobility is as advertised – several times he escaped oncoming rushers and turned possible sacks into positive gains, even diving once for a first down. He has a live arm – he regularly hit receivers in stride, and clearly has uncanny chemistry with his brother Keenan Allen. Case-in-point: on one play during 11v11s, Zach hit Keenan perfectly on a quick-slant, which Keenan caught in full stride then turned upfield for a 70-yard run-after-catch TD. Bridgford seems to be solidly in the #2 spot, ahead of Mansion.
RB Sofele / DeBoskie or Yarnway / Manuel or Bigelow / Anderson or Ervin or Lasco
*** Sofele began with the ones, and had a nice long run later on in 11v11s. DeBoskie and Yarnway both looked to be recovered from their knee injuries. CDJ in particular seemed leaner & quicker than in the spring, likely a sign of his re-dedication to football and a shot at earning playing time. And as mentioned earlier, it was good to see Bigelow, Lasco, and Anderson all getting their first reps as Golden Bears.
FB Stevens / Kapp or Tyndall / Aknin
*** Stevens is the solid starter here, and he had a nice long TD run in 11v11s.
WR Jones / Calvin / Edmond / Montgomery
WR Allen / Clay / Harris or Bouza / McGovern
*** Kiesau’s coaching must be working already, because both MJ1 and KA21 looked smooth, running crisp routes and basically catching everything thrown their way. Marv had a nice fully-extended leaping 40-yard catch early on in 7v7s, plus another great grab later which led to a “nice route Marv!” shout from Coach K. Calvin, Clay, Edmond got plenty of work as well – although Clay left the field early with an apparent injury. Maurice Harris is a huge target, and hopefully will be in the mix this fall.
TE Miller / Hagan / Wark / (Rodgers)
*** Miller had a few nice catches, and Hagan worked with the 2nd team, while continuing to build on his breakout Spring. Ladner was on the sideline in street clothes, apparently still not fully recovered from the injury he suffered in Spring Ball, while Sparks reportedly did not participate due to academics.
LT Summers-Gavin / Tyndall / (Farley)
LG Schwenke / Crosthwaite
C Galas / Brazinski / Adcock
RG Cheadle / Gibson / Rigsbee
RT Rigsbee / Williams / Beible
*** Schwartz was limited/held out as a precaution, apparently due to a minor injury. There was lots of rotating going on in the 2nd/3rd units, and Coach M was regularly coaching up his guys.
SDE Guyton / Coleman / Kaufusi or Jalil
NT Payne or Tipoti / Moala / (Clark)
WDE Owusu / King / Scarlett or Barr or Lopa
*** DL could probably be the deepest position group on the team, and Tosh likely will have the luxury of going 2-deep without any significant dropoff in talent. As noted, Moala is a load in the middle.
SLB Wilkerson or McCain / Camporale
MLB Kendricks / Fanua or Hurrell
MLB Holt / Mullins / (Jefferson or Broussard)
WLB Davis or Whiteside / Gibson
*** While Kendricks & Holt are entrenched starters, there was alot of rotation among the OLBs. Looks like Coach P is trying to find the right mix on the outside, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the competition continue on through the first 3 (nonconference) games. Forbes was apparently limited/held out due to a minor injury.
CB Anthony / Hill / Jackson or Willis
CB Williams / McClure or Lee / Samuels
FS Cattouse / Logan or Walls
SS Campbell / Moncrease or Coley
*** The 4 starters got the bulk of the 1st team reps, while Hill/McClure and Coley/Walls got alot of work in the nickel. It also looks like in Coach P’s scheme, the FS is responsible for calling signals and lining up the D, as we often saw Cattouse or Walls directing traffic in the secondary.
One last tidbit, this one related to recruiting (Tosh!). We spotted some recruits on the sideline, and after confirming via Ryan Gorcey’s Twitter, they included: Zach Kline, Bryce Treggs, Byron Marshall, Ishmael Adams, and Dalis Bruce.
This concludes the first practice recap – please check back in the coming days for more reports and info. Go Bears!