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Cal Football Spring Practice Number 14: Defense Owns the Day

March 20, 2019
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The Bears held the 14th of their 15 scheduled spring practices Wednesday, the first day of spring.

Inside linebackers coach Peter Sirmon liked what he saw during the drill, which begin under rain skies and concluded in sunshine.

“Typically after the Spring Game it’s yabba-dabba-do, everybody’s running out of work,” Sirmon said. “But the guys brought a really good attitude back. We actually installed some things. That always helps, keeps guys fresh, keeps them engaged in the meeting room.”

The defense seemed to dominate during the team drills, making life difficult, sometimes impossible for the Cal offense.

“Anytime you are not going live, we (the defense) ought to win the drill,” defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said. “We ought to be in position. You saw on Saturday we had to finish some plays. One-on-one tackles, we didn’t make enough of them. Today one thing I did like was I thought physically our guys rose to the challenge, We were winning at the line of scrimmage a bunch of times. We didn’t always, but were in position to get one or two guys to the ball-carrier, which was a pretty good effort.”

In the red zone drill early in the practice, the defense did not allow the offense to cross the goal line once.

As offensive line coach Steve Greatwood does with his charges DeRuyter, who handles outside linebackers, and Sirmon shuffled their troops around.

“I think guys get excited to have a different role,” DeRuyter said. ”It’s the last week of Spring Ball, only so much you can do in a base defense, showing new things. This keeps them involved, and if we do have injuries, guys have played a different position.

“We have big packages, and if we play teams that want to go with three and four tight ends, we are going to match them with size. Getting an opportunity like that really helps. A guy like (redshirt freshman outside linebacker) Nick Alftin, we don’t know how big Nick’s going to get. He is a big, long (6-5), physical guy. He may wind up being 285 pounds before this thing is over so we are going to look at him inside as well as outside.”

Outside backer Cameron Goode, who is coming back after missing virtually all of last season with an injury, had a particularly impressive day. He spent almost as much time in the offensive backfield as quarterback Chase Garbers did.

“He’s done so many reps of what we are asking him to do, he is just a really natural player at doing it,” DeRuyter said. “He is going to have some rust, not playing at all last year other than the first game, but he’s come out here. Maybe the first week, he had a little bit of rust to knock off.

He is doing a lot of things really well, whether it’s in coverage, whether it’s in pass rush, or in setting the edge like he does.”

DeRuyter was asked if he looked the same as he did last year

“The only thing I’ve noticed is he’s thicker, so is setting a better edge,” DeRuyter said. “At the point of attack, he is a little bit more stout.”

He seems to be showing no ill effects from the injury. “He complained a little early, I think that’s natural,” DeRuyter said. “Any time you get an injury, you get a little scar tissue, and you have to break through. But he hasn’t complained the last couple of weeks.”

Other Practice Notes

Linebacker Colt Doughty and defensive lineman Zeandae Johnson had some noticeable moments stuffing run plays.

Garbers and Devon Modster again did the bulk of the quarterbacking. The day wasn’t all bad for the offense. Modster demonstrated some mobility, ducking away from a rush and hitting Ben Skinner down the middle through a few defenders.

Showing a real comfort level with tight end Gavin Reinwald, Garbers was flushed from the pocket, then knowing exactly where Reinwald would be, hit him between the numbers.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Evan King made a nice run on an inside reverse.

Pro Day

Thursday is Cal’s annual Pro Day, in which 13 of last season’s seniors will perform various tests, running, jumping and lifting, for a group of NFL scouts and executives. It begins at 10:30, and the events that take place in Memorial Stadium will be open to the public.

Probably the most prominent participant will be last year’s co-captain linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk.

“He was up in the office yesterday, saying hi to all the coaches,” Sirmon said. “So we are still in touch with him. We will come out tomorrow and support him the best we can and hope he has a good performance.”

Running back Patrick Laird, the other co-captain, will also be participating.

Drill highlights

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Cal Football Spring Practice Number 14: Defense Owns the Day

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