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Cal Football

The Spring Primer - Part 1: The Offensive Line

February 20, 2019
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Find the Spring Roster Here

Spring Practice Schedule Here

OFFENSIVE LINE

Returning Starters:

Jake Curhan - TACKLE - 6’6, 330 - RS Junior

Michael Saffell - GUARD/CENTER - 6’3, 305 - Junior (Limited Participant this Spring)

Valentino Daltoso - GUARD/TACKLE - 6’4”, 295 - RS Junior (Out for Spring)

Other Returners with Playing Experience:

Will Craig - TACKLE - 6’5 270 - Sophomore

Gentle Williams - GUARD - 6’3, 290 - RS Junior

Henry Bazakas - TACKLE - 6’6, 320  - RS Senior

Newcomers:

Matt Cindric - GUARD/TACKLE - 6’4, 290 - RS Freshman

Poutasi Poutasi - GUARD - 6’4, 335 - RS Sophomore

Brandon Mello - GUARD/TACKLE - 6’6, 285 - RS Freshman

Miles Owens - TACKLE - 6’6, 350 - RS Freshman

Jasper Friis - TACKLE - 6’7, 320 - RS Freshman

Notes:   A very young group will take the field during Spring Ball.   Only three upperclassmen are healthy and available with seven underclassmen filling the gaps.  Even though Saffell will be limited, don’t be surprised to see him immediately take over the vacated Center position with Addison Ooms’ graduation.  Saffell is exceptionally talented and has a chance to be a star in the middle for the Bears over the new few seasons.   Curhan transformed his body going into 2018 and that paid dividends with the consistency of his run leverage and improved quickness on pass blocking.  He’ll work on pass blocking technique and overall consistency as he looks to establish himself as the leader of this young group.   Will Craig more than held his own while earning significant playing time as a true freshman and along with Saffell represents a significant athletic upgrade to the line.  He’s a near lock for one of the open starting slots.   Gentle Williams will need to take a step forward with his play to hold off a trio of youngsters looking for playing time in Matt Cindric, Brandon Mello and Poutasi Poutasi.   Cindric and Mello shined on the scout team last Fall and both will look to use this Spring to establish themselves in the rotation.

Key Questions going into Spring:

Who will make up Greatwood’s 8 man rotation heading into Fall Camp?   With six returning linemen with playing experience, this group is likely to include no more than 3 newcomers.   Mello and Cindric enter the Spring in the pole position but this may be an opportunity for Poutasi (now healthy) to mature and put himself in the mix.   Friis and Owens are almost certainly a year away.   Don’t be surprised to see a grad transfer enter the mix later this Spring.

Will a likely replacement for Addison Ooms make themselves known?   Sort of - Saffell is the favorite though he’s going to be limited in Spring Practice.  Cindric and Williams will also likely get reps snapping the ball and Greatwood is hoping to find at least one competitor/back up for Saffell in the middle coming out of Spring practice.

How much will a young and thin OL hold back the offense this Spring?   This has to be a concern with only one returning starter 100% healthy and a bevy of youngsters taking first-team snaps. That ’s mitigated by an overall increase in raw talent and athleticism up front and the defense being more passive as per usual in the Spring.

Discussion from...

The Spring Primer - Part 1: The Offensive Line

9,335 Views | 12 Replies | Last: 3 yr ago by wifeisafurd
Big C
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If we can remain relatively injury free, maybe Greatwood can patch something together from these mostly younger guys.
wifeisafurd
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A year from now this is going to be a strong line. Time will tell about this year due to inexperience.
Rushinbear
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wifeisafurd said:

A year from now this is going to be a strong line. Time will tell about this year due to inexperience.
weren't people saying the same thing last year?
Bobodeluxe
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Rushinbear said:

wifeisafurd said:

A year from now this is going to be a strong line. Time will tell about this year due to inexperience.
weren't people saying the same thing last year?
No. Last year, the line was to reported to BE greatly improved after the year of experience they just had.
GivemTheAxe
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Bobodeluxe said:

Rushinbear said:

wifeisafurd said:

A year from now this is going to be a strong line. Time will tell about this year due to inexperience.
weren't people saying the same thing last year?
No. Last year, the line was to reported to BE greatly improved after the year of experience they just had.

Last year that prediction led to unrealized
Expectations in Fall. IMO the OLine underperformed all season. We need an upgrade in the Oline if we hope to see any improvement in the QB and RBs (whoever they turn out to be).
I like the fact that this year's OLine may be less experienced but will be more athletic.
wifeisafurd
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Rushinbear said:

wifeisafurd said:

A year from now this is going to be a strong line. Time will tell about this year due to inexperience.
weren't people saying the same thing last year?
No, just the opposite. Last year's line was supposed to progress over the prior year, due to experience. It was supposed to be the strength of the offense. Then Makeri and Addi got banged-up, and Saffle went down.
wifeisafurd
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GivemTheAxe said:

Bobodeluxe said:

Rushinbear said:

wifeisafurd said:

A year from now this is going to be a strong line. Time will tell about this year due to inexperience.
weren't people saying the same thing last year?
No. Last year, the line was to reported to BE greatly improved after the year of experience they just had.

Last year that prediction led to unrealized
Expectations in Fall. IMO the OLine underperformed all season. We need an upgrade in the Oline if we hope to see any improvement in the QB and RBs (whoever they turn out to be).
I like the fact that this year's OLine may be less experienced but will be more athletic.
I agree with the last line, hence my comment about 2020.
HungryCalBear
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I'm surprised every offensive coach except Greatwood got blamed when the OL clearly underperformed last year.
calumnus
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HungryCalBear said:

I'm surprised every offensive coach except Greatwood got blamed when the OL clearly underperformed last year.


Baldwin's spread scheme and playcalling given we did not have a credible passing threat resulted in a numbers disadvantage for the line, both for running and pass protection. Even with an experienced line and a great position coach, you cannot overcome math and physics (being in two places at once).
Dduster
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We've been hearing this excuse for over a decade. Until we have a decent O Line with a run game that can make 3rd and short we're not going anywhere. Always young, always inexperienced, always undersized, always unathletic, always low football IQ. Time to change the song. Greatwood needs to earn his salary and stop babysitting.
GivemTheAxe
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Dduster said:

We've been hearing this excuse for over a decade. Until we have a decent O Line with a run game that can make 3rd and short we're not going anywhere. Always young, always inexperienced, always undersized, always unathletic, always low football IQ. Time to change the song. Greatwood needs to earn his salary and stop babysitting.


At the BI recruiting event last week I asked why only 3 recruits were for the OLine since that was an area that needed improvement
The answer given was: OLine players take more time to train. We can't take too many. Cal has a number of young players who blue-shirted last year and will compete for a starting position.
The coach said they will be young and inexperienced but they are more athletic than the players they replaced.
I understood the coach's comments to be: we will see improvement in the Oline as the season progresses.
wifeisafurd
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Dduster said:

We've been hearing this excuse for over a decade. Until we have a decent O Line with a run game that can make 3rd and short we're not going anywhere. Always young, always inexperienced, always undersized, always unathletic, always low football IQ. Time to change the song. Greatwood needs to earn his salary and stop babysitting.

The last really good line was 2008. There have been a couple decent lines (Schwartz's last year had some NFL players), but never as dominant as the good JT lines. I'm not sure about the excuses. Some of those lines also benefitted from elite skill players so you couldn't load up on one type of defense (like we saw this season with everyone in the box all the time) or get burned by Best or a QB like AR.

When Wilcox reviewed the film from last season, the line was by far rated the best unit on the offense, so I'm guessing that is the reason all other offensive coaches were warned about job security unless things improve other than Greatwood.
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