Monday marked the second half of spring practices, and it brought with it the release of the team's depth chart. While there is still another half of spring practice to go – and a lot can still change in that time – it does give a good glimpse at who has stood out thus far. Below are some thoughts on the depth chart, as well as observations and notes from Monday's practice.
Re the Depth Chart:
To the dismay of everyone who hope the Cal quarterback battle could wrap up quickly, the depth chart released today contains nothing definitive; Zach Kline, Jared Goff and Austin Hinder are all listed at first team, with nothing more separating them than the dreaded and uncertain conjunction, “OR." They continued to split reps on Monday as well.
Of the three, Hinder's day was the most lackluster as he sailed passes high and off target all afternoon. Goff continued to look steady, calm and collected during his reps; he threw the deep ball very well.
There are no real surprises to report on the defensive side of the ball, as the 11 starters named in Monday's depth chart have been practicing together for most of spring. We may note, however, that Dan Camporeale drew the start over Kyle Kragen at rush end, unexpected given how frequently Kragen has stood out these last few weeks.
Center Mark Brazinski's high snaps continue to plague him; that may have contributed to the decision to name Matt Cochran the starter. The rest of the offensive line has practiced together all spring except for the substitution of Alejandro Crostwaithe in place of Geoffrey Gibson.
Kenny Lawler, who has been one of the standouts of spring ball, was penciled in as the wide receiver starter opposite Bryce Treggs – well-merited based on his play thus far. Lawler was fairly quiet today, though.
A quick note on the “bone” position, which is listed on the depth chart and may be unfamiliar to readers – this refers to the two players that line up in the backfield in the team's "diamond" formation. It appears that the staff prefers larger, tight-end sized players in this role, as evidenced by the recent rotation involving Lucas Gingold, Jake Davis, and Jacob Wark.
As noted last week, the offense seems to be emphasising their diamond formation in goal-to-go situations. Today, they went to it repeatedly, using multiple play action fakes out of this set to make scores. Another interesting wrinkle – a read option with Jacob Wark was shown twice while in the diamond.
Today's practice devoted a lot of time to making passes out of a trips sets – unbalanced formations where there are three receivers to one side, just one to the other. The “base” formation that the Bears normally practice in has two receivers to each side. There was also an “empty” set shown for the first time today as well, with nobody in the backfield and all players up toward the line of scrimmage.
This might be redundant to report, but Mustafa Jalil was once again a disruptive force – on one play, he flat out shoved Jordan Rigsbee backward for a sack, and he collapsed the pocket on several other occasions. Joining him in strong defensive play were Antoine Davis, Keni Kaufusi and Michael Barton. Mike Lowe added a pair of interceptions.
Offensively, Maurice Harris and Bryce Treggs were the standouts. The former used his large frame to snag several difficult receptions, and also put a wicked cut and stiff arm on Isaac Lapite for a touchdown during 11-on-11s.
Meanwhile, Treggs continued to be the most consistent of the Cal receivers, hauling in a few nice deep balls and winning most of his individual matchups against Kam Jackson. Jeffrey Coprich added in a nice run of about 35 yards.
Practice today was held in shorts and shells, and the tempo was noticeably slower than most others this spring. There was little actual contact.
Joe Montana was spotted in attendance.
Khairi Fortt suffered a pulled hamstring during 11-on-11s, but it did seem too serious as he walked off the field without help. He was held out of the remainder of practice however.
Joel Willis had an interesting day, lining up in the backfield and actually taking a fair amount of touches – both through the air and on the ground – from that position.
Though Willis is listed behind Maximo Espitia at the “H” receiver position, his usage at running back could mean that the staff is looking to utilize the SoCal speedster more creatively. Unfortunately, about halfway through practice he was helped off the field with an ankle injury. We will closely watch Willis and Fortt over the next few practices.
Griffin Piatt was also injured – and unlike the previous two, this one looked to be a bit more serious. Piatt was in a 1-on-1 wide receiver/defensive back drill when he tried to plant on a route, and ended up on the ground clutching his knee. He remained there for several minutes before trainers were able to get him off the field.
Todd Barr was not in pads today, wand Lucas King was limited. Darren Ervin was present but did not take part in any contact drills.