Cal's first spring practice of 2013 under new head coach Sonny Dykes started out sunny enough, but the temperatures dropped quite quickly. Despite the cold, about a hundred fans came by to witness the unveiling of the Bear Raid offense, with representatives from The Bear Insider among them.
Herewith some quick notes, assorted observations, and tidbits from the first day of spring practice.
Uniforms today: helmets and shorts, no pads.
Zach Kline, Allan Bridgford and Austin Hinder took all of the reps during 7v7 and 11v11 scrimmage drills. For readers who want to read into what order they took them in, Bridgford went first at some points, and Kline at others. Hinder did not.
Of the three quarterbacks, Allan Bridgford performed the worst on day one, consistently throwing behind receivers on slants, and overthrowing corner routes. Bridgford also threw a couple of interceptions. One came when a catchable slant bounced off Maurice Harris and into the arms of Avery Sebastian. The other was the result of some questionable decision making, as Bridgford put a desperate deep ball up for grabs between multiple defenders; it eventually ended up in Adrian Lee's possession.
Austin Hinder showed nice accuracy during his time under center, throwing crisp passes to a bunch of different receivers. Practices under Sonny Dykes have receivers run to the end zone after every open catch, but even with that policy in mind, it is worth noticing that Hinder “scored” on passes to James Grisom, Jeffrey Coprich, Stephen Anderson, Bryce Treggs. Drake Whitehurst and Kenny Lawler. Among the highlights: Lawler took a tunnel screen to the end zone from about 24 yards out, while the strike to Treggs came on a perfectly executed corner route as the 5-11, 175 lb receiver came from just outside the left hash and into the middle of the field for the score. Hinder also threw an interception to Stefan McClure.
Zach Kline, who many fans have pegged as the favorite for the starting quarterback job, struggled a bit at times with many of his passes on out routes landing too far outside. That said, he settled down and later moved the offense much more efficiently in 11-on-11s. His time under center, although efficient, was less “explosive” than Hinder's – scores were much less frequent. Kline's arm-strength is as advertised, although chances to unleash it deep were not abundant. Kline also demonstrated his scrambling ability a couple of times, picking up a handful of yards when a pass play was not to be had. His best highlight was a 45 yarder bomb to Bryce Treggs during 7-on-7s, leaving the crowd with hopes of more come August.
The first team offensive line went (from left to right): Freddie Tagaloa, Jordan Rigsbee, Mark Brazinski, Geoffrey Gibson, Bill Tyndall. Gibson, it should be noted, was in for the injured Chris Adcock.
The second team offensive line went: Brian Farley, Donovan Frazer, Matt Cochran, Steven Moore, and Christian Okafor.
At today's first practice, there does not seem to be a real distinction between the wide receivers – they all rotate in and out constantly due to the frenetic pace. This will be worth watching over the next couple of weeks.
The first team defense included: Kameron Jackson, Stefan McClure, Michael Lowe, Avery Sebastian, Khairi Fortt, Nick Forbes, David Wilkerson, Todd Barr (at end), Keni Kaufusi, Deandre Coleman, and Dan Camporeale (at end). Perhaps the only name on that list that is a surprise thus far is Keni Kaufisi, as Viliami Moala was present at practice, but without a helmet for reasons unknown.
The second team defense included: Isaac Lapite, Nathan Broussard, Michael Barton, Jordan Morgan, Cedric Dozier, Gabe King, Mustafa Jalil, Damariay Drew, Kyle Kragen, Hardy Nickerson. One other player's name escaped my notes.
For someone coming off an ACL tear, Stefan McClure looked strong and mobile. In addition to his aforementioned interception of Hinder, during 1-on-1s McClure dominated in press coverage against slot receivers, and added a couple of well-defensed passes working on the outside.
Bryce Treggs looks a bit bigger than last season, and consistently dominated at wide receiver today.
Kam Jackson played very aggressively for an unpadded practice, at one point even pushing a leaping Bryce Treggs out of bounds. Physicality was never lacking for the Long Beach Poly standout.
Coach Dykes mentioned Griffin Piatt and Jackson Bouza as strong performers after the first practice.
Brendan Bigelow is on crutches, but assured The Bear Insider that he already knew the playbook and that he would be ready to go come summer.
Spotted doing conditioning, and not really active participants in practice: Richard Rodgers, Jason Gibson, Chris Harper, Chris Adcock, Austin Clark.