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Scrimmage Report: March 16

[Note:  a version this report is cross-posted at, with Rivals subscribers getting an early look yesterday.  Follow the Cal Rivals team on Twitter @CalRivals]

Pictures here (courtesy @mr_ollins)

After a relatively light practice Friday night, the team reconvened Saturday morning in ideal 65-degree weather.  The efficient 90 minute session began with a brief warmup and drills period, and then featured the second live scrimmage of the spring.  Along with a decent sized crowd in the stands, a good number of high school coaches were in attendance, observing from the sidelines as participants in the annual Cal Coaches Clinic.

A number of players were held out due to injuries:  Joel Willis, Darren Ervin, Bryce McGovern, Griffin Piatt, Todd Barr, Khairi Fortt, Kameron Jackson; plus previously injured and recovering Brendan Bigelow, Spencer Hagan, Chris Adcock, Chris McCain, Brennan Scarlett, Jason Gibson.  Jackson apparently was a late scratch and paced the sidelines in sweats, due to an unknown injury.  Other than OL Bill Tyndall, who left the field on a cart after hurting his ankle or lower leg, there were no additional injuries.  Coach Dykes also noted that McGovern would be out 3-4 weeks with a PCL injury.

Only two players wore yellow “non-contact” jerseys:  QBs Zach Kline and Jared Goff.  Austin Hinder and Kyle Boehm were dressed in “regular” white jerseys.  Hinder had his number called on several designed running plays, and Boehm continued to take snaps at inside receiver as well as quarterback.  Although Kline and Goff got more reps during the scrimmage portion, Coach Dykes made a point to comment on the other 2 QB’s skills after practice:  “Austin and Kyle [bring] something to the table with their ability to run.”

The scrimmage was “controlled to an extent” (to practice specific situations, according to Coach Dykes) and lasted 9 drives.  Kline and Goff ran 3 each, Hinder 2, and Boehm 1.  The tempo was up and down – they played fast at times, but other times the offense, in Dykes’ words, “dragged a little bit.”  Coach also confirmed that there would be different looks (new packages) on offense next week.

Bryce Treggs articulated his coaches’ philosophy well, commenting emphatically:

“We do a small amount of things great, instead of doing a large amount of things average.  It’s a simple offense, but [we’ll] execute it well. … Our tempo is all about substitution – once we get our substitution down, our tempo will be fast.”

When the tempo was clicking, the offense ran on average, 3 plays in under 1 minute – so just about 20 seconds per play.  The offense moved the ball fairly well overall – Kline, Goff, and Hinder all accounted for TDs.  This should be taken with the caveat that the defense ran, in Dykes’ words, “incredibly vanilla” schemes – no blitzing or exotic coverage.  In fact, Nick Forbes mentioned after practice that the defense had “high potential” as guys become more comfortable and more packages (including blitzes & coverage schemes) are installed in the future.

Kline turned in the best performance out of the 3 QBs.  He was 5 for 6, with 90 yards, and 1 TD, including a 59-yard completion to Drake Whitehurst down the left sideline.  His TD pass, to Darius Powe in the right corner of the end zone, was on a designed roll-out from 12 yards out.

Goff looked smooth running the offense, showing good awareness – including a nice scramble up the middle, and also saving a bad snap and preventing a negative play.  He went 5 for 11, 93 yards, 1 TD; plus 2 carries for 11 yards.

Hinder didn’t seem as sharp/accurate as usual, but he ran well on designed plays.  He was 4 for 8, 55 yards; with 5 carries for 31 yards, 1 rushing TD.  Boehm got more snaps at receiver than behind center; he only ran one brief drive at QB, where he missed his only pass attempt.

Running back depth was limited with Bigelow (knee), Lasco (shoulder), Ervin (hamstring), and Willis (foot) all out.  Jeffrey Coprich and Jonah Hodges got plenty of work, and made the most of their opportunities.  Coprich showed nice speed and “one-cut-and-go” ability on a 47-yard run down the left sideline off a zone read.  On a later drive, Hodges fought off two defenders for a nice catch on the right sideline.

Interesting wrinkle we might see in the future:  During the pre-scrimmage offense-only walkthrough period, Boehm ran a goal line play where he faked a QB keeper and threw a jump pass to a receiver flashing across the end zone.  A few other new looks observed during the scrimmage period included:  an option package with Hinder at QB and Boehm at inside reciever, plus a formation with trips WRs to one side, with the single outside receiver on the other side lined up tight (~about 2-3 yards away from the offensive tackle) rather than split wide.

One last note about Dykes’ philosophy with regards to accountability:  The team did extra post-practice conditioning work, after some players missed tutoring and treatment sessions.  When asked, he explained:

“We set our standard and [need to] hold each other accountable, [and] follow through with what we say. … Part of getting the culture of our program established is to set parameters, and obviously there’s going to be punishment when the parameters aren’t met. …  We’ve got to perform both on the field and off the field.  Part of being a good teammate is not letting your teammates down … [including] taking care of business off the field. … We’ve got a standard that we’ve got to meet, and part of my job is to enforce that standard.”

Drive Highlights:

– 1st:  Kline started with the 1st unit and completed his first 3 passes, but a bad snap on the next set of downs killed the drive.  Cole Leininger booted a 39 yard punt, with a fair catch by Chris Harper.

– 2nd:  After a facemask on Keni Kaufusi negated the first play of the drive, Hinder went 2 for 4, with the drive stalling and ending on a missed 49-yard FG attempt (wide left) by Vince D’Amato.  3rd down formations included an empty backfield on offense, and 2 DTs standing up (both DEs with hand down) on defense.

– 3rd:  Goff executed a nice zone-read handoff to Coprich, who ran down the sideline for 47 yards before being pushed out of bounds by Forbes.  Deandre Coleman had a sack, while Goff completed both of his passes.  Goff finished the drive with a TD pass – a perfect 33-yard fade down the left sideline to Bryce Treggs.

– 4th:  Kline went 2 for 3 on this drive, including a 59-yard completion to Drake Whitehurst, who used his size to out-position Cedric Dozier, who had been running step-for-step in coverage.  Kline executed a nice designed roll in the red zone, throwing a perfect ball to Darius Powe for a 12-yard TD.

– 5th:  Hinder was a bit off on his throws, but this drive included the aforementioned catch by Hodges between 2 defenders.  Hinder ran 3 times for nice gains, including his TD run around the left edge.  Tyndall was injured early on this drive, and was replaced with Brian Farley the rest of the way.

– 6th:  Goff showed good awareness saving a bad snap, and also scrambling up the middle for a nice gain.  Drive stalled, with Leininger punting to Treggs for a fair catch.

– 7th:  Boehm directed mostly run plays (almost exclusively zone read to Coprich & Hodges), and overthrew his only pass of the afternoon.

– 8th:  Drive stalled, but the highlight was a sack by Vei Moala with the offense starting in the shadow of their own end zone.

– 9th:  Scrimmage ended a bit earlier than expected (around 1230pm) with a successful 42-yard FG by Noah Beito, but not before Bouza showed nice run-after-catch moves on a long 30+ yard reception down the middle.

Unofficial Unit Charts:

1st Team O – Tagaloa, Rigsbee, Cochran, Crosthwaite, Tyndall;  [Kline / Goff / Hinder], Coprich;  Treggs, Bouza, Espitia, Lawler

2nd Team O (skill positions rotated frequently) –  Farley, Moore, Brazinski, Gibson, Okafor;  [Hinder / Goff / Kline / Boehm], Hodges;  multiple receivers rotated in

1st Team D – Jalil, Coleman, Kragen, Camporeale;  Jefferson, Forbes, Broussard;  McClure, Sebastian, Lowe, Lapite

2nd Team D – Davis, G.King, Kaufusi, Egu;  Barton, Nickerson, L.King;  Dozier, Drew, Morgan, Fadelli.  Moala and others also rotated in.

Post-Practice Videos:

Sonny Dykes –

Bryce Treggs –

Zach Kline –

Austin Hinder –

Scrimmage Recap –

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Taking a Look at the QBs

As many of you guys know, I tried to have a live twitter feed of last Friday’s practice. I’ll definitely try to attend more to keep you up to date, just follow me here

Practice Under the LIghts

After three practices, we can already see the changes that Coach Dykes have implemented with the program. Many have observed that the practices are faster, the players are consistently practicing with high energy, and the staff is feeding into that energy as well. Though I’m not too sure how people are saying that we are practicing faster. In terms of the speed of movement, it’s actually not too different from the Tedford years (I would know because I’ve actually attended them). However, there are more reps per minute per player. For example, the quarterbacks who are not in during a play will take shadow reps (imitating snap count, reads, and throws) while one of the quarterbacks is under center. Players do run to each drill instead of gingerly jogging like they did before thanks to coaches constantly yelling at the players to move faster. One thing I have noticed that contribute to the increased number of reps during practice is that the coaches won’t exactly go on long talks with players while on the field. It seems like they have reserved most of the coach talk to the position meetings and the video room.

Technically every position is up for battle since there is a completely new staff. However, I will look into who will be our next quarterback. We all know how important this position is in terms of leadership and how quickly the offense can adapt to what is now called the Bear Raid. So who has been the top three quarterbacks in the first three practices. Here is my observation and ranking.

3. Austin Hinder

In terms of reps, he has a gotten his fair share of plays under center with the first team. His feet moves well, which really helps his escape-ability. Also, even though he is on the move he still has a good touch on the ball. Some issues he has right now is that he needs to gain a little more strength and weight. He also needs to make better decisions overall but that might come once he reps all the plays over and over again with different looks from the defense. I would say at this point, Hinder is a solid backup quarterback.

2. Jared Goff

I am really surprised with this pick. I would have thought Bridgeford would be the one of the top contenders for the starting spot or even the backup. However, Goff has been quite impressive for someone who just came into the program only a few weeks ago after graduating high school. He still needs to learn the speed of the game at the college level and to have a better relationship with his receivers because there have been times where he is literally a split second off with his receivers. Other than that he has good mobility and a pretty good release and touch on the ball. I think most people can see that he has a lot of potential and with the number of team reps Franklin and Dykes has been giving him, the coaches seem to think the same. He’ll most likely take a redshirt this season.

1. Zach Kline

We all knew he was a great recruit and a great high school quarterback. So for most people this doesn’t come as a surprise. Kline has received the most number of team reps throughout the week especially with the first team. I also don’t remember Kline throwing any interceptions even though he has had so man reps. He’s making good decisions but at the same time takes some risky decisions because he trusts his arm. Speaking of his arm, he throws one hell of a bullet. Sometimes his throws are so hard receivers have a hard time getting clean catches on the ball; however, those balls gets past the defenders and to his receivers before the defender can react. I wouldn’t say he has better mobility than Hinder but it’s fairly good (He’s no Nate Longshore, so that’s good). This kid is poised and ready to take on not only the role as quarterback but also the role as one of the leaders of the team. So far Kline has a fair lead on the quarterbacks and he is my pick to be named starting quarterback after the Spring Game.

Still, don’t count out either Kyle Boehm or Allan Bridgeford. There is still plenty of football left this spring. I would highly recommend all of you to attend Saturday’s scrimmage to see for yourself who will win this QB competition.