Cal Football: Cal Football Spring Practice Day 5 – First Scrimmage of Spring

MEMORIAL STADIUM — The full pads finally arrived at Memorial on a sunny Saturday morning as the Bears had their first scrimmage of the spring in the fifth session of Spring Ball today. The scrimmage consisted of referees and offered a more game-like situation during much of the training session, in which an estimated 90 games were played primarily with first- and second-team players, with occasional shuffling and matching.

Both sides of the ball had their moments. The defense definitely had the early advantage as the offense struggled a bit to find their rhythm. Some of the early standout plays for the defense were JC transfer safety Matt Littlejohn with a call-off on Sam Jackson’s throw after a nice break, a DE Ethan Saunders sack on Jackson, a DT Stanley McKenzie TFL, and a line of scrimmage stop early in the game Action plus one more later. The offense would have made a big play early on as Jackson slapped WR Monroe Young on the touchline for a nice wannabe TD, but the game was called back with an offensive penalty.

Running back Ashton Stredick, who snaps third-string with transfer RB Justin Williams-Thomas with a spring lower-body injury, had a great day, including the first nice run of the day with a 10-yard burst down the middle. He later had one of the longest runs of the day with a burst off tackle and 50 yards down the sideline before redshirt frog cornerer Julian Womack got the angle on his fast back and prevented a tackle. The Berkeley product appeared on a number of plays during scrimmage on D. Stredick also had a 10-yard TD scamper later in practice.

Running back Byron Cardwell had one of the best RB performances of the spring on Wednesday, but today wasn’t his best day. Cardwell was involved in an early turnover when QB Sam Jackson executed an option sweep at the end and put the ball straight into Cardwell’s breadbasket, but the redshirt Soph RB didn’t seem ready for the handoff and it just fell straight to the ground for OLB Myles Jernigan be picked up for a scoop and Score TD. Cardwell was also pulled out by MLB Nate Rutchena after a 10-yard gain and followed up a nice 25-yard gain with an unsportsmanlike behavior late in the game when Littlejohn got a little pesky as he wrapped up Cardwell and wouldn’t let him go, when the game was played the call was dead. The Oregon transfer was clearly unhappy with the mistakes and will likely come back with a vengeance for next Monday’s practice session.

Jackson had a mixed day, throwing a pick-six to safety Craig Woodson, who made a nice jump onto a sideline pass, but he also continued to show higher upward movement than backup Fernando Mendoza, who had another solid day himself.

The Speed ​​Jackson continued to play with his feet, completing passes under pressure with creative throws around the pass frenzy with a variety of arm angles that didn’t affect his speed or accuracy. In addition to the 60-yard TD that was called back early, Jackson also hit WR Mavin Anderson for a nice back shoulder pass and brought down the sideline and showed a nice spin move to avoid a safe sack from a flashing Woodson who was running for air only a big backfield tackle seemed imminent. Jackson also hit Anderson for a 25-yard gain as the redshirt soph-receiver has been a standout player from O all spring.

Other highlights on defense included several nice chasing plays from new Portal transfer linebackers Davide Reese and Sergio Allen, who are appearing more each day as they continue to acclimatize and do replays with both the 1 and 2. Cornerback Kaelin Moore had his best practice of the spring when he played tight in cover and added a knockdown or two of his own while playing with a similar swagger as fellow Nohl Williams, who has made a very strong case for the start. ILB Kaleb Elarms-Orr has continued to shine in every practice session and had a cover sack against Mendoza today and always seemed on the ball. DB Dejuan Butler had a nice separation of a well-thrown Mendoza ball 40 yards down. Mendoza also had the pass of the day with a perfect 35-yard back-shoulder pass to receiver Trond Grizzell, who, with his large catch radius and long arms, had an impressive stretching catch on the sidelines. Running back Jadyn Ott also had the longest run of the day with a 60-yard TD burst.

The freshman All-American running back rushed for an estimated 139 yards and two touchdowns on 43 carries and eight yards for 19 carries throughout the day in 11×11 sessions.

“Jaydn looks just as fast or faster than Fall,” said Justin Wilcox. “He looked really good.”

“It was fun, I can’t complain,” said Ott. “I like doing that and coach Spav has made it a lot more enjoyable this year, even after only five practice sessions this spring. I’m enjoying myself and I’m sure everyone else on offense is. Maybe not the defense, though.”

The Soph RB has looked good all spring and is confident not only about the kind of season he’s in for, but also about what the offense can achieve as a unit.

“A lot of explosive games and we’re going to touch the color a lot,” Ott said when asked about his expectations for 2023.

Overall, head coach Justin Wilcox sees some things he likes as well as some areas where they will continue to improve this spring.

“Our conditioning needs to keep improving,” Wilcox noted. “The mechanics of game situations in a scrum with officials, understanding the consequences of a lack of concentration or poor technique and how this affects a game or causes a penalty. The ball has been on the floor too many times – casually – so we need to be cleaner with our decision-making when handling the ball.

“Defensively, I think the biggest area where we can improve is some of the open field work. We haven’t been down live so it’s difficult at times but it can get better to put ourselves in a good position on the open field to make tackles. You will also be a lot of things. Guys compete really hard.

The offensive line continues to be a work in progress, sometimes failing to open holes in runs while other times providing solid blocking to jump all three running backs and both QBs for multiple runs for first downs or longer rushing plays . They continue to do better, giving each defender a body and panting far less than they did in Spring and Fall, but have yet to establish the kind of continuity staff want to see moving the ball to O’s with more confidence and consistency.

The defensive backfield is deep and should be able to man-cover most of the season this season, which will likely result in more turnovers than they were able to generate last season in a generally softer zone with so many defenders and many players Youth in the back room.

The Bears will be back in action Monday morning at 8:45 am for Session 6 of the Spring Ball at the Memorial.

Kicker Michael Luckhurst shone from considerable distance on both of his occasions today when he hit field goals cleanly through the middle of the posts from 35 and 45 yards.

The Bears had a number of recruits, families and coaches available for today’s scrimmage to witness the Bears’ first day in full pads, including 4-star Arbor View-Las Vegas (23-year-old signee from Zurich Ashford’s teammate) 2024 WR DavidWashington‍, 3 Stars 2024 Utah MLB Bo Tate2024Utah QB Carson Su’esu’ewho has offers from Tennessee, Pitt, Utah and ASU, 2024 3 star Homestead-Cupertino TE Wyatt Hook2024 El Cerrito RB Micah Avery2025 3 Stars De La Salle ATH Robert Santiago2025 3 Stars Pittsburg DE juju walls2025 Bishop Alemany OT Maki Stewart2026 Mater Dei ATH CJ Lavender.2026 Loyola CB Brandon Lockhart and 2026 St. John Bosco ATH madden williams who has early offers from ASU and Georgia Tech so far.

Also in the house today was the former Antioch and Alabama running back and current Pittsburgh Steelers star Najee Harris Capture of today’s action.


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