Yesterday the team completed its first practice (in shells) after spring break. The players were a bit rusty after a week off, but Coach Tedford was reportedly pleased with their conditioning and effort. In a post-practice interview, Tedford praised some of the young guys, including WR Maurice Harris, TE Richard Rodgers, LB Jason Gibson, DB Avery Sebastian, and QB Zach Kline.
Several players were apparently limited or out due to injuries (Allen, Lowe, McClure, Wilkerson, Galas, Stevens) or perhaps class or undisclosed injuries (Bigelow, Lasco, Sofele, Tipoti, Whiteside, Anthony). The usual media outlets have already posted reports and interview quotes/clips:
– California Golden Blogs (Avinash)
– BearTalk (Faraudo)
– Rivals (Gorcey)
– BearInsider (Tedford & Maynard quotes)
[Note: this post is cross-posted at California Golden Blogs]
Some additional observations:
Maynard participated in full, taking most of the first team QB reps, after having missed the first 2 practices due to study sessions. Both he and Tedford confirmed in post-practice interviews that his academics are fine. Tedford also noted that Maynard is more confident this spring:
“It’s night and day from last spring. Last spring he was scratching his head about what was going to happen. It was a brand new offense. Now he has great control of what’s going on, he’s got great command, great presence, great composure and you can tell he has a year of experience under his belt. He’s focused at practice. The confidence comes with the rest of his teammates and paying a lot of attention to them. This time last year, he was worried about himself, doing the right things, saying the snap count right, the 25-second clock. Now he’s a real field general and he relates well with the rest of the team.”
Maynard indeed showed good command of the huddle, despite missing the first week of spring ball. His footwork and delivery seemed noticeably cleaner when compared to last fall (preseason) camp. He threw the ball with authority at times, but also missed a few throws. This is most likely due to rust and working with a depleted WR corps (see below). Bridgford took a few #1 reps, plus most of the #2 reps. He also looked composed running the offense, and his delivery seemed more compact than last year. This is likely a sign of experience and confidence in his arm, which is fully recovered from shoulder surgery two years ago. Hinder, Boehm, and Kline were next (in that order) in the rotation. Kline has a live arm, and a quick release. Coach Arroyo was very active coaching the QBs, and seems to have taken over Kiesau’s former role as the most vocal coach on offense.
Coach M was also very active coaching the OL, which didn’t have the best day – particularly in pass pro. With Galas out, Schwenke (normally a guard) took over at center, leading to a few bad snaps/exchanges. MSG and Rigsbee are apparently the tackles for now, with Crosthwaite and Gibson at guard, but this situation is likely fluid and open to competition. Early entry true freshman tackle Christian Okafor is as big as advertised, and he saw action mostly with the 2nd & 3rd units.
The RB & WR corps were both limited for this practice, but apparently for different reasons. Sofele, Bigelow, and Lasco were limited (not sure why), so Anderson and Ervin took most of the snaps at tailback. Yarnway and Briggs saw time at both TB & FB, while Manuel worked with the receivers. WR depth is limited this spring with Allen out and the Fab 5 freshmen not coming until fall. Maynard had good things to say after practice about Maurice Harris and converted DB Joel Willis, who both showed flashes. Walk-on receivers Bouza, McGovern, and Anderson got plenty of reps.
The defense, as expected, seems to be ahead of the offense at this point. Several of the young guys made their presence felt, including DEs Gabe King & Todd Barr (both were active up front and in 1-on-1 drills), ILBs Jason Gibson & Nick Forbes (both saw plenty of reps with Wilkerson out), DBs Avery Sebastian (our ace recruiter) & Kam Jackson (both had nice coverage and a few pass breakups).
The team will practice in pads on Thursday and Saturday this week. Lastly, here is what Tedford said when asked about Kline:
“I’m really impressed with him. He’s got a good sense of humor, he’s a really good leader. For a young guy to jump in the huddle and have a presence about him, you can tell he carries a lot of confidence. Anytime there’s a new guy like that they catch a little bit of flack here and there but he takes it really well. He’s a student of the game, he’s bright and he really works at it. He’s very calm and he’s very respectful of the investment the older guys have made. He understands he has a long way to go. He’s going to be a great player before it’s all said and done.”