Five things we learned this spring
Blue team down by the goal line
With Saturday's spring game concluding spring practice, the California football team now turns its attention to summer workouts and more than three months of work prior to the opening of fall camp. Coming into spring practice, there were quite a few questions facing the team and while not everything had a crystal-clear solution, there were areas where the Bears found some clarity.
Zach Maynard is entrenched as the starting quarterback
With a year of experience under his belt, Maynard looks quite a bit more at ease than he did last spring. On Saturday, he was 6-of-11 for 118 yards with four completions for 20 or more yards. He threw the ball considerably better, showed that he was able to work well with receivers other than those named “Allen” or “Jones,” and if there was any question about him holding on to the starting job following last year's up-and-down performance, he's answered most of those with a strong spring. While academic conflicts held Maynard out of a few spring practices, it didn't appear to set him back. Allan Bridgford's had a lot of work with the first unit this spring when Maynard is out and appears set to be the backup. The third-string quarterback still appears to be a tight competition with Jeff Boehm, Austin Hinder, and true freshman Zach Kline – don't be surprised if Kline ends up being the third-string quarterback coming out of fall. Kline's 40-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Hagan, where he felt pressure, stepped back in the pocket, then stepped forward while keeping his eyes downfield on Hagan, who was splitting Avery Sebastian and Jordan Morgan was terrific. On the following two-point conversion, he rolled right, looked inside, saw his primary receiver was tied up with the defender, and he threw a short comeback pass to Jackson Bouza for the score.
This year's fullback situation maybe quite a bit different than in year's past
For the past several years, the fullback has been a dedicated task; primarily consisting of blocking, blocking, blocking, with the occasional short-yardage carry and swing pass out of the backfield. But with a surplus of tailbacks and no resident fullback, the Bears have used Dasarte Yarnway and C.J. Anderson at fullback and both will appear to continue to learn the role. While Eric Stevens' will likely see time at the position once he gets healthy, any scheme that allows Isi Sofele and Anderson to be on the field at the same time will make the offense significantly more explosive. Anderson was the running star of the game with 12 carries for 88 yards including runs of 33, 21, 15, and 13 yards.
There'll be no concerns with the defensive line
Even though the Bears have lost starters Trevor Guyton, Ernest Owusu, and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi from last season, the defensive line has been one of the strongest units of the spring. Because the defense regularly rotates people - in during a game, all of the linemen who've seen much of the first unit work this spring – Deandre Coleman, Kendrick Payne, and Mustafa Jalil all have considerable game experience. Add to that Aaron Tipoti, who was out this spring, and strong springs from Gabe King, Keni Kaufusi, Todd Barr, and Puka Lopa, and the Bears will have one of deepest defensive lines in the Pac-12.
Everything should be just fine at the kicker position
Although Vince D'Amato didn't kick this Saturday, he's been impressive this spring, kicking several balls over the net behind the goalpost, over the fencing, out of the Witter Field, across the road and into the new stadium. He's consistently had good distance and left on his kicks and at the very least should make extra points considerably less of an adventure then they've been in y ear's past. James Langford, who's redshirting this year following a transfer, kicked well on Saturday with field goals of 41- and 47-yards, and is seeking an exemption that would allow him to kick this fall.
Questions about wide receiver will continue into the fall
With Keenan Allen sitting out the spring, it was an opportunity for Cal receivers to get a leg up on the competition going into the fall. Maurice Harris, both by his admission and head coach Jeff Tedford's comments, needs to learn to play faster. His 28-yard touchdown pass, when he faked a block on cornerback Matt Mayes and then ran past him into open space for a pass from Maynard was well done. Jackson Bouza, was steady as usual, falls into that trap of doing everything well, but nothing spectacularly. Still, the wide receiver rotation is still far from settled, and Bryce Treggs, Darius Powe, Kenny Lawler, and Chris Harper will all have a chance to earn playing time.