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Cal Football

Daltoso and O-Line Ready to Get the Axe Back

November 20, 2019
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“It kinda hit us right out of the gate.”

Redshirt junior offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso is, of course, referring to Cal’s unfortunate luck with injuries this season. No one understands how it has affected Cal this season more than Daltoso, who himself was injured coming into this season and when healthy was forced to move around to fill in for other injured players amongst the offensive line, a group who has had some of the toughest personnel losses out of the entire team.

“I guess Gentle (Williams) going down in fall camp and then Will (Craig) right after UC Davis... obviously it’s tough on guys,” said Daltoso. Both Craig and Williams were projected starters who had their seasons cut short, or in the case of Williams cut entirely, due to injuries. And those are only the guys who are out for the season; most of Cal’s offensive line has been banged up at some point this year, including center Mike Saffell missing several games. The result? Players moving into new positions, and young guys being forced into early playing time.

Daltoso was quick to describe the difficulty of both situations. “When you first move over and take reps and stuff... all of a sudden you’re flipping everything, and it’s not just your feet, it’s where your weight is and how you carry your hands and everything.” Daltoso, a natural right guard, has shifted over to left tackle this year to fill in for the injured Craig. The switch was not an easy task, but Daltoso was up for the challenge.

“You know, it’s tough,” said Daltoso about having to make the switch. “I think the transition from guard to tackle is probably easier if you’re going from the same side. Just moving positions is a little easier than flipping sides, but honestly, it takes maybe a week or two of just kinda the repetitions and all that kinda stuff and it becomes more natural.”

“I think I’ve been improving each week, so I feel pretty good now,” he added.

This also isn’t a new task for Daltoso, who has had to play every offensive line position other than center at some point during his Cal career. He knows that the challenge is much greater for many of the young players that who been forced into significant roles due to injury.

“You’ve seen guys like Matt Cindric moving from starting out at left guard to moving back to center and then left guard again, and that’s not easy on a young guy but I think he’s done a really good job,” said Daltoso about the redshirt freshman. “That’s props to him, that’s not easy to do especially as a really young guy and he’s learning, he’s getting a lot better.”

As Daltoso said though, at least Cindric had his redshirt year to prepare for this situation, unlike true freshman McKade Mettauer, who is filling in at Daltoso’s natural right guard position while Daltoso mans Will Craig’s left tackle spot. Daltoso made comparisons between Mettauer and Craig, both who entered college a bit undersized for their position but were forced to play as true freshmen.

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

“Will and McKade, those guys are not the norm for linemen coming out of high school,” said Daltoso. “I think a lot of guys coming out of their senior year would not be ready physically at all to be able to step on the field. I know I probably wasn’t able to. But that’s props to them. Will is a really athletic guy and he was 265 but he moves incredibly well and he’s really athletic and he got the job done back there. And same with McKade, he is a really athletic guy and he’s only going to develop.”

The one thing that Daltoso made sure to point out is that early playing time for these young guys could have huge future benefits. “I think looking forward, that’s a lot of experience for guys that may have not gotten that experience, so I guess maybe a bit of silver lining there,” explained Daltoso. “But yeah, I think next year it’s going to be a pretty veteran group.”

And a veteran group it will be. Cal will only be graduating two players on the offensive side of the ball, and not a single scholarship offensive lineman. This continuity sure will be nice after Cal’s offense has been plagued with key departures, and of course injuries, over the past few years.

“You can talk to anybody that went to Cal or goes to Cal [and] that’s the first thing they ask you: ‘Are you gonna get the Axe this year?’”
- Valentino Daltoso

“It’s a long way from now, you’ve still got spring ball and a whole training camp and offseason and guys’ bodies changing and stuff, but it’s really exciting,” said Daltoso about the mass of returning talent for next season. “I think we have a really good group of guys and I think we’ve got a group of guys that want to get better and work hard. I think that’s the culture we’ve kinda started to build. The sky's the limit for some of those young guys, and it’s pretty exciting to watch.”

Daltoso also knows that while it may be fun to look ahead, there is plenty of unfinished business ahead of him. “You’re usually thinking pretty week-to-week in the season. I think guys have done a really good job for what the circumstances [have been] and I think we’ve put ourselves in a position to get to a bowl game and win our last few games, which I think is awesome.”

Week-to-week thinking will be needed more than ever for this upcoming Saturday, as Cal looks to break their nine-game losing streak against their opponent, and Daltoso knows it.

“You can talk to anybody that went to Cal or goes to Cal [and] that’s the first thing they ask you: ‘Are you gonna get the Axe this year?’, so it’s a big deal,” said Daltoso about the Big Game. “I think guys are ready for it and not taking it lightly, but it depends on us. It’s nothing that they’re gonna do special, we’ve gotta go out there and win it up front.”

Like Daltoso said, this game will be won in the trenches, and his battle-tested, battle-scarred offensive line sure seems ready to do their part.

Discussion from...

Daltoso and O-Line Ready to Get the Axe Back

2,944 Views | 30 Replies | Last: 16 days ago by Pigskin Pete
MoragaBear
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Staff
Nice feature on Daltoso and the O-line by our new intern, Josh.
HungryCalBear
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This piece by an intern? Great job wow!!! Thanks for the story.
82gradDLSdad
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Nice piece. Nice to hear upbeat info from someone literally in the trenches.
OdontoBear66
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Also great to get the Daltoso's view of how the movement in position, especially side to side, effects the athlete. In the stands we can look at it as a healthy body in there, but it may be a name we know well making a big adjustment.

And let me add, that some of his comments with futures indicates we need patience with JW.
bonsallbear
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Most important position group in football is the offensive line. This certainly points out the need to recruit lineman who are at least 285 pounds. Athleticism is great However at 265 pounds you get pushed around. We definitely need better recruiting on the o-line.
MoragaBear
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bonsallbear said:

Most important position group in football is the offensive line. This certainly points out the need to recruit lineman who are at least 285 pounds. Athleticism is great However at 265 pounds you get pushed around. We definitely need better recruiting on the o-line.
A lot of programs bring in OL recruits with talent at the 260-270 level. But it's with the intention of building them up and playing them in 2-3 years but with all the injuries and recruiting holes they had from '15-17, they got stuck playing some guys earlier than they wanted.
82gradDLSdad
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A 265lb high school kid is plenty big.
Rushinbear
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82gradDLSdad said:

A 265lb high school kid is plenty big.
Not if the position's target weight is 305, say.

Oh, he can put on the weight ok, but will he be able to carry it with the necessary agility, speed, stamiina, etc.? And, he might be able to gain a lot of strength in the process (would have to). I also refer to my concerns about organs, skeleton and connective tissue size/strength. Are they naturally able to support that weight effectively/healthily?

285? Yes, more likely. And, of course it varies kid to kid (some are skinny at 265).
MoragaBear
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Rushinbear said:

82gradDLSdad said:

A 265lb high school kid is plenty big.
Not if the position's target weight is 305, say.

Oh, he can put on the weight ok, but will he be able to carry it with the necessary agility, speed, stamiina, etc.? And, he might be able to gain a lot of strength in the process (would have to). I also refer to my concerns about organs, skeleton and connective tissue size/strength. Are they naturally able to support that weight effectively/healthily?

285? Yes, more likely. And, of course it varies kid to kid (some are skinny at 265).

The 265 lb OL mentioned by Daltoso (Craig) was not supposed to play last year but was forced to because of injuries. He's now 290 in what should've been his rs frosh season. Craig also had offers from UW, Oregon, UCLA and lots more.

Greatwood doesn't just offer anyone and assume they can bulk up. He and Becton have certain frames in mind when they offer.
bonsallbear
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MoragaBear said:

bonsallbear said:

Most important position group in football is the offensive line. This certainly points out the need to recruit lineman who are at least 285 pounds. Athleticism is great However at 265 pounds you get pushed around. We definitely need better recruiting on the o-line.
A lot of programs bring in OL recruits with talent at the 260-270 level. But it's with the intention of building them up and playing them in 2-3 years but with all the injuries and recruiting holes they had from '15-17, they got stuck playing some guys earlier than they wanted

Moraga ,

II don't dispute anything you have to say;however I stick to my last sentence. If we recruit more linemen, we will have more experience to step in in two to three years. They will have matured into the 285+ two deeps and be more capable of handling the opponent than a 265lb true freshman.
Sorry, don't know how to cut and paste on my tablet.
MoragaBear
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Right now, they have 13 scholarship OL, though two are out for the year with injury, two made fairly recent position switches and aren't really viable depth till next year and two are true frosh too light to play right now.

Next year they return all 13 plus add 3-4 more. The lighter freshmen should be in better position to play with added weight and strength. The guys who switched to OL will be better acclimated and starters Craig and Williams who missed all season (except for the opener for Craig) will be back again.

Night and day difference in terms of OL depth and experience next season.
bonsallbear
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Keeping fingers crossed.
82gradDLSdad
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MoragaBear said:

Rushinbear said:

82gradDLSdad said:

A 265lb high school kid is plenty big.
Not if the position's target weight is 305, say.

Oh, he can put on the weight ok, but will he be able to carry it with the necessary agility, speed, stamiina, etc.? And, he might be able to gain a lot of strength in the process (would have to). I also refer to my concerns about organs, skeleton and connective tissue size/strength. Are they naturally able to support that weight effectively/healthily?

285? Yes, more likely. And, of course it varies kid to kid (some are skinny at 265).

The 265 lb OL mentioned by Daltoso (Craig) was not supposed to play last year but was forced to because of injuries. He's now 290 in what should've been his rs frosh season. Craig also had offers from UW, Oregon, UCLA and lots more.

Greatwood doesn't just offer anyone and assume they can bulk up. He and Becton have certain frames in mind when they offer.


Exactly. Like I said, 265 is plenty big enough for a high school lineman. Thank you.
bonsallbear
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And 285 is better. Thank you
82gradDLSdad
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bonsallbear said:

And 285 is better. Thank you


So is 300 with a 600lb bench and a 4.8 40. I was thinking more along the lines of kids Cal can actually get.
89Bear
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MoragaBear said:

Rushinbear said:

82gradDLSdad said:

A 265lb high school kid is plenty big.
Not if the position's target weight is 305, say.

Oh, he can put on the weight ok, but will he be able to carry it with the necessary agility, speed, stamiina, etc.? And, he might be able to gain a lot of strength in the process (would have to). I also refer to my concerns about organs, skeleton and connective tissue size/strength. Are they naturally able to support that weight effectively/healthily?

285? Yes, more likely. And, of course it varies kid to kid (some are skinny at 265).

The 265 lb OL mentioned by Daltoso (Craig) was not supposed to play last year but was forced to because of injuries. He's now 290 in what should've been his rs frosh season. Craig also had offers from UW, Oregon, UCLA and lots more.

Greatwood doesn't just offer anyone and assume they can bulk up. He and Becton have certain frames in mind when they offer.

Wait, are you saying there is a plan that they have put together??? And follow????
ducky23
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The intern is a keeper
Rushinbear
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MoragaBear said:

Right now, they have 13 scholarship OL, though two are out for the year with injury, two made fairly recent position switches and aren't really viable depth till next year and two are true frosh too light to play right now.

Next year they return all 13 plus add 3-4 more. The lighter freshmen should be in better position to play with added weight and strength. The guys who switched to OL will be better acclimated and starters Craig and Williams who missed all season (except for the opener for Craig) will be back again.

Night and day difference in terms of OL depth and experience next season.
Is 13 schollies enough? Two out for year; that leaves 11. Five ol spots, that's a two deep + 1, including all the fr and rs/fr. Once there's an injury, playing a fr or rs/fr becomes inevitable. So, citing that as a reason doesn't carry that much "weight."

We've got 4 wr positions and how many schollies? Granted the injury rate is greater for wr's, but still. Same with db's.

If we need to get mature ol bodies for the short run, why haven't we been looking at more jc's? And, increase the schollies?

PS Roberts looks good for early pt. 280-290#.
MoragaBear
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No, 13 is not enough. They're playing catch-up with OL scholarship numbers.

The main problem is the 3rd, 4th and 5th year players who should make up the bulk of the starting OL and backups only have 4 guys left -Curhan, who's starting, Williams, who was supposed to start but is out for the year with injury, Saffell, who starts, though he's missed a few games and Poutasi, who's battled injury problems. Just 4 OL from the 3 classes they should be counting on the most is a real issue. All that leaves is true freshmen and redshirt freshmen.

And yes, I think if Roberts catches on to the blocking schemes quickly enough, he's physically talented enough to play as a true frosh if needed. Same for Everett Johnson, IMO.

The line should be pretty deep and much better next year, though still on the young side outside of 4 of their starters, assuming Williams can beat out Cindric and get his job back at OG. Otherwise it would be 3 senior starters, with the rest sophs or younger.
bonsallbear
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82gradDLSdad said:

bonsallbear said:

And 285 is better. Thank you


So is 300 with a 600lb bench and a 4.8 40. I was thinking more along the lines of kids Cal can actually get.
So your saying 285 is out of reach?
MoragaBear
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Two of Cal's 3 2020 OL recruits are 290. But they'll continue to recruit other talented OL they'll intend to bring along more slowly and build up, especially now that they'll finally have some depth next season.
HearstMining
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I know it's not practical, but players would almost certainly be better off in the long run if they weren't required to gain so much weight. They end up with eating habits that don't change once they quit playing and that's a recipe for cardio issues later in life, along with the wear and tear on joints.
MoragaBear
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29 of the 39 OL commits in the league are below 290. Look at UW's OL commits:

  • 6-6/250
  • 6-3/265
  • 6-7/275
  • 6-5/275
  • 6-5/290
bonsallbear
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MoragaBear said:

Two of Cal's 3 2020 OL recruits are 290. But they'll continue to recruit other talented OL they'll intend to bring along more slowly and build up, especially now that they'll finally have some depth next season.
Music to n my ears. What's Greatwood's preferred number of o linemen?
MoragaBear
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4 but Cal loses none this year and gets back Craig and Williams after missing most or all of this year so it may stick on 3 this class.
bonsallbear
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MoragaBear said:

4 but Cal loses none this year and gets back Craig and Williams after missing most or all of this year so it may stick on 3 this class.
Sorry. I should have been more specific. How many overall on the team? And how should they be spread out per class?
GivemTheAxe
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OdontoBear66 said:

Also great to get the Daltoso's view of how the movement in position, especially side to side, effects the athlete. In the stands we can look at it as a healthy body in there, but it may be a name we know well making a big adjustment.

And let me add, that some of his comments with futures indicates we need patience with JW.

Thanks for posting.
It explains a lot. Why a healthy looking lineman can miss a key block. Why the offense sputters in crucial situations.
Rushinbear
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MoragaBear said:

4 but Cal loses none this year and gets back Craig and Williams after missing most or all of this year so it may stick on 3 this class.
Should be 4. By now, the staff will have a pretty good idea of who can play and who not so much. Yeah, maybe by jr/sr year they can contribute, but with 13 we need more than that. Should carry at least 15 ol and 1 fewer db and wr. OLs are the hardest to evaluate in hs.
59bear
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Mission accomplished! Not the most classic of wins but I'll take it. Now, please, can we recruit some SPEED! Seeing Brown lumbering 20 yards on a diagonal to gain (or lose) 1 yard almost brought on a stroke. All is forgiven though and congratulations to a gritty crew of Golden Bears!
Pigskin Pete
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HearstMining said:

I know it's not practical, but players would almost certainly be better off in the long run if they weren't required to gain so much weight. They end up with eating habits that don't change once they quit playing and that's a recipe for cardio issues later in life, along with the wear and tear on joints.
A lot of football linemen lose a lot of weight when they no longer have to maintain that weight to play. Ooms has lost like 80 lbs.
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