Many Highlights in Spring Finale

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By David Bush, Staff Writer
Posted Apr 22, 2017
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2017 BearInsider.com


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Cal's Defensive Backs
Photo: Al Sermeno isiphotos.com
Cal concluded its spring practice with it annual spring game Saturday, that featured about 100 11-on-11 plays with some individual and group drills mixed in.
Half of the scrimmages were full tackle, with the rest basically two-hand touch.

"Very productive," said head coach Justin Wilcox afterwards. "A lot we can teach off of. Very encouraged by their effort throughout the spring and today."

Some things came through during the afternoon: despite the loss of several talented wide receivers, the Bears seem well set at that position, some newcomers will help the defense and the quarterback job is still unsettled.

Chase Forrest and Ross Bowers, who have separated themselves from the other quarterback candidates, got the bulk of the snaps. Max Gilliam ran the offense for a couple of series did manage to throw a 6-yard touchdown pass.

But it clearly is between Forrest, who was 15-for-29 for 189 yards and a touchdown and Bowers, 18-for-29 168 yards and three TDs. Wilcox said the competition could very well carry all the way through Fall Camp, and that each showed improvement during the latter stages of the spring.

"I thought the last week they both made significant steps," Wilcox said. "You could see it in the last week and a half of practices. They both do certain things well. ... I think the more they play the better they're going to get."

Both also showed the ability to maneuver their way out of trouble and seemed more comfortable operating the offense in general.

"We were able to play with a little more tempo than a week ago because they're not thinking and processing," offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin said. "They were able to react. That was pleasant about the way they operated."

All told, the offense scored on 13 of the 18 series, with seven touchdowns and five field goals.

"Our offense made a huge jump the last couple of days," senior tight end Raymond Hudson said. "Everything has just started to click."

The final sessions were the so-called two-minute drill, where the offense is working against the clock. The offense had mixed results, they did manage to score but the defense came up with a pair of interceptions.
Still, Baldwin, who had been distressed after the last time the offense ran its hurry-up tempo, saw improvement.

"I thought we did some good things, we made some mistakes as well," he said. "I thought we got out of bounds when we needed to. We executed when we had to in certain spots. We got in with a touchdown on one of them.

"We took some strides. If you would have watched our two minute drill two weeks ago, you'd have been ecstatic about this one. If  this one was great or not, I don't know. But it was improvement, that's for sure."
Receivers Jordan Duncan (seven catches last year) and Kanawai Noa (three) were particularly impressive. Noa had eight receptions for 112 yards Saturday.

"He's one of those guys who just finds a way to make a play," Baldwin said. "He's tough. He's not afraid of contact or guys hanging on him. I just like the effort at which he plays the game."

Duncan made a couple of eye-popping touchdown catches, a one-handed grab from Bowers, and a scoop off the ground thrown by Forrest.

"He makes plays like that," Baldwin said. "He's been that type of guy. Sometimes he's covered up, when he may not have the separation,  but he still has the body, he can big-body a little bit and make some of those plays.

"And quarterbacks trust that. When you keep making plays like that they keep going to you because they trust you are going to make the play. It was good to see him do that."

Vic Enwere, hoping for an injury-free senior year, was the leading rusher with 32 yards on eight carries. More than once he seemed to be stymied only to change direction and gain yardage.

"It was nice to see him make some plays when it wasn't perfectly blocked for him," Wilcox said. "That's important at that position.

On defense, freshman cornerback Elijah Hicks, who last fall was playing in the La Mirada (Long Beach) High defensive backfield, had an interception, three pass breakups and generally made a nuisance of himself. An early enrollee, who committed to the Bears even before Wilcox had been hired, he probably will be on the field quite often in September.

"Elijah since the day he's been here, he's jumped right in," Wilcox said. "Nothing has been too big for him. He's a very talented guy, he's very smart and it's not surprising to see him make plays."

Linebacker Russell Ude, who was around last year but did not earn a letter, had a pair of sacks and forced a fumble.

Cornerback Camryn Bynum, a redshirt freshman, was credited with six tackles during the two full tackle periods.

Notes

*Hudson and Vic Wharton III also had four receptions each as 14 different players caught at least one pass.

*Junior Quinton Tartabull also had an interception.

*Wide receiver Demetris Robertson missed the game because of his track obligations, Melquise Stovall is out with a lower body injury.

*Running back Tre Watson was given the day off. "Tre has had lot of work this spring," Wilcox said. "We wanted to give some ohter guys some reps.'

*Several players and fans trekked up to Witter Rugby Field afterwards to watch the Bears beat Penn State, 35-14, in the Varsity Cup National Semi-Final.
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