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Monday Practice Report: It's Official -Garbers Gone "Long-Term"

September 30, 2019

Head coach Justin Wilcox made official Monday what most Cal fans feared, quarterback Chase Garbers (above) has an injury that will keep him out for most, if not all, of the rest of the season. He was injured in the second quarter of Friday night’s game against Arizona State just as he seemed to be hitting his stride. The Bears would get no more specific than “upper-body” but quite obviously it is the shoulder. 

“At OIe Miss and the first half of this game he was playing the best football since he’s been here,” Wilcox said after the Bears practice on Monday. “He was really in a rhythm. You really feel for him there. It’s unfortunate. It’s one of those things that’s part of college football and he’ll bounce back. We have other guys prepared to step up.”

The main “other guy” is Devon Modster, the redshirt junior transfer from UCLA. Modster did not inspire the Cal faithful with his performance in relief of Garbers Friday. 

“I think he can definitely play better,” Wilcox said. 

The Bears probably won’t change the offense, although Wilcox hinted at some tinkering. 

“It’s not like wecwill make a wholesale change to the offense,” Wilcox said. “But there are certain things Devon does that we will lean a little bit more on.”

Tackle Jake Curhan said whatever changes that are made will not be on the scale of what happened last year when the Bears had used Ross Bowers, Brandon McIlwain and Garbers by the second game. That was a definite case of contrasting styles.

“We had different plays for different guys,” Curhan said of 2018. “This year we’re running the same stuff.”

Modster’s backup will be freshman Spencer Brasch, according to Wilcox.

The rest of the injury news was better. Safety Traveon Beck, wide receiver Kekoa Crawford, offensive lineman Erick Nisich and safety Daniel Scott, all of whom missed the ASU game with injuries, are expected back for Saturday’s game at Oregon.

Coming out of halftime, the Bears ran the ball effectively against ASU at first, going 63 yards for a touchdown on their first third-quarter drive in 12 plays, all runs. But after that their ground game virtually vanished. Curhan felt the Bears failed to adapt when ASU began lining a safety up on the line of scrimmage, making it more difficult for Cal to create running lanes.

“When we had favorable boxes to run the ball in, we were doing a really good job,” Curhan said
“There are just some adjustments that need to be taken across the board. ….After that drive, they adjusted to what they were seeing….Across the board, from the line to all the other positions we didn’t make the same adjustments to get other stuff open.”

Wilcox was visibly upset with the entire team’s performance Friday night. Reviewing the film did not help his disposition. 

“I don’t think we did anything in any phase well enough to win,” he said. “You can go through all the positions. Effort and ‘want-to’ alone don’t win, not in this conference, not against the teams we’re playing. Our guys want to win. The effort was there, the execution was not. We had too many errors, whether it was offensively with drive-killing plays, dropped balls, penalties. Defensively, the tackling was not good. We had a couple of coverage busts from guys who have played a lot of football. Special teams were not good. We are real honest with our guys, I love ‘em and they come to work. But that was just poor and it starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job seeing they’re prepared. ...That was unacceptable.” 

The players agree. “I think for us, the two big things are we just have to tackle better. I know I missed two tackles from the grade sheet,” said nose tackle Luc Bequette. “And we’ve just got to communicate better. There were some calls we all weren’t on the same page with. From the D-line to the DBs we all have to be on the same page.”

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