After 11 days off, the Cal football team resumed their spring practice on Wednesday at Memorial Stadium. Coach Justin Wilcox, although offering little in the way of specifics, was pleased with the workout, seventh of the spring.
"It was good to get back out here today, it was very competitive," Cal's rookie coach said at the conclusion of the afternoon's work.
As they have all spring to work, the Bears continued to emphasize tackling, pointing to what was an obvious weakness in the 2016 team.
"We do it every day, we meet on tackling every day as a team," Wilcox said, noting that virtually every player, not just those on defense, participates. "We don't know if it has paid off because we haven't played a game yet. But it will, as long as we keep working the fundamentals and doing the things it takes to be a good tackling team.
"Everybody for the most part does tackle. Mostly the kickers don't and the quarterbacks don't, but offensive linemen, it might be on a punt. Defensive linemen, defensive players obviously, wide receivers, running backs on special teams. Everybody at some point needs to make a tackle so it's important."
Wilcox did not use the "i" word, but offensive players most often tackle when the quarterback throws an interception. Which brings us to the burning question of the spring: Who will be throwing those passes that one hopes will not be intercepted?
Will it be Chase Forrest, Ross Bowers, Max Gilliam, Victor Viramontes or even true freshman Collin Moore? Wilcox wasn't about to offer as much as a hint as to where the competition stood.
"Those guys are doing a really good job of competing," he said. "Really it's about learning and practicing. So again, there is so much time. I wouldn't say anything has been settled by any means. It is something that will continue to develop through spring and possibly through fall."
And he said he was in no rush to make a decision. "We will let those guys learn, go out and compete and hone their skills," he said. "Then those things will sort themselves out."
Wilcox and his offensive staff have introduced one position to the offense that virtually has been missing the last few years: tight end. Sonny Dykes' "Bear Raid" offense seldom used one. Now the Bears will have a man at that position, if not every down, certainly most of them.
"We've got some guys with some size in there and we'll use it and (be) physical and learn some new techniques in terms of the run and pass game for them," he said. "They've done a great job. It is a group that has some versatility."
The coach mentioned that group has some "bigger guys". Of course none is bigger than 5-11, 300-pound junior Malik McMorris, who lined up at fullback often the last two years to the delight of the Cal fans and the terror of opposing linebackers.
"He has a unique skill set," Wilcox said. "We're going to use him."
While McMorris is a most imposing blocker, senior Raymond Hudson, who spent of the last two seasons as a wide receiver, might be the most accomplished pass catcher of the group. He is glad to see the position, which he played in high school, reinstated.
"I was stoked," he told the Cal Athletics web site. "The first thing I wanted to hear was if I was switching inside because I just wanted to get my hand on the ground and hit some people. Two of the touchdowns I caught last year were from a tight end-like position, so I've made catches in that role, but it's different in some ways even though the familiarity is there. "
The Bears take Thursday off and then are back on the field Friday with an afternoon practice that is closed to the public and a Saturday morning (11 a.m.) workout that is open to the public. The following two weeks they will practice seven more times, but only the annual Spring Game on Saturday April 22 will be open.