BERKELEY -The long winter's wait for Cal football is over with today's start of spring practice at Memorial Stadium.
The opening session was closed to fans and media today, with head coach Justin Wilcox, running back Tre Watson and linebacker Ray Davison addressing the media after practice.
"It was exciting to get back on the field," said Wilcox. "It's been a long time. A lot of anxious players and coaches to get out here and do what we love to do.
"They did a great job for a first day. There's going to be a ton to clean up. That's to be expected.
"The work ethic was really good. The energy was good and the focus was good. We've just got a lot of work to do
"We have a limited number of spring practices and we'll be excited to get back out here again Friday."
Fundamentals are at the core of Wilcox's first season of practice as a head coach. Teaching a new philosophy and incorporating new techniques on both sides of the ball are a big priority for the new staff, especially in the early days of spring practice.
Wilcox noted about early priorities: "Implement the system, learn the language, Learn the techniques and fundamentals to play that system. That's why today we spent lots of time separately on offense and defense.
"The teaching part of it is going to be huge. Knowing the game within the game, situational football, formations -all the things that really matter. Then building our team's culture and finding out team's strengths and weaknesses and who are the guys that need to step up
"That's the exciting part"
Wilcox noted that while he'll likely tend to spend more time on the defensive side, he also enjoyed spending time with the offensive side, as well. He also noted that picking a number one quarterback was far from settle and may well not be determined by the end of spring practice.
Asked about the difference between last year's spring practice and this one, Watson noted the subtle distinctions.
"Now we focus more on the little individual details and putting them together as a team," said Watson. "Last year, we were more focused on running plays.
"New coaches and new system. We've got to get the fundamentals down first."
Watson also noted with a big smile that he expected to get to run the ball more under new offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin and the scheme he's bringing to Cal. Baldwin will coach running backs as part of his offensive coordinator duties.
"He's a great coach," said Watson. "We love him."
A list of non-participants for spring practice included defensive tackles James Looney and Luc Bequette, safeties Trey Turner and Evan Rambo, cornerback Josh Drayden, receivers Brandon Singleton and Melquise Stovall and offensive tackle Daniel Juarez. Injuries won't be addressed in media sessions and all were listed as lower body injuries.
A key player from Wilcox's first stint as linebacker coach from 2003-05 -former Bear and NFL star Desmond Bishop- is back with the Bears this season as a defensive quality control assistant.
To view post practice video with head coach Justin Wilcox, use the embedded viewer below: