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Cal Football

Spring Practice Day One: Four Players Out Until Fall; Minor Staff Shuffle

March 4, 2020
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After the first day of Cal’s football practice on Wednesday, head coach Justin Wilcox broke a bit of news.

Four players, including two key defensive performers, will miss the entire spring. Wilcox also announced some shuffling of responsibilities in the defensive coaching staff.

Inside backer Kuony Deng and outside backer Cameron Goode, both redshirt seniors and veteran starters, will be on the sidelines with what is described as upper body injuries. Also, guard Gentle Williams is still feeling the effects of the lower body injury that kept him out all last season. He won’t take the field again until the fall. Inside linebacker Ryan Puskas a redshirt freshman, also is down with an upper body injury. WIlcox said he expected all four to be ready for the season.

Defensive coaches Peter Sirmon and Tim DeRuyter changed jobs. DeRuyter, who had the title of defensive coordinator, is now co-defensive coordinator and associate head coach. Sirmon, who had that unwieldy job description last year, is now simply defensive coordinator. Sirmon will take over calling the plays, something DeRuyter has been doing.

Wilcox played down the significance of the moves.. 

“It is really a small change, and it won’t be noticeable,” he said, adding that defensive play-calling was a “collaborative” effort anyway and all the coaches will still be involved. 

The adjustment might indeed be minor, as Wilcox said. But if the status quo was really hunky-dory it would have been left alone. The change was made for a reason

During practice Wednesday Evan Tattersall was running with the first unit in the inside linebacker spot vacated by All-American Evan Weaver. Alongside him, in place of the injured Deng, redshirt freshman Blake Antzoultos was lined up on most plays. 

Wilcox cautioned the media not to read too much just yet  into who is lining up with whom.

“Evan has played on special teams mostly, had a few reps on defense. Blake has played very little, both have a lot to learn,” he said. “Both have some skills, Evan is a pretty talented athlete he runs well, he’s got good size, he’s a smart guy. We’ve just got to see the production in practice. Blake is just learning how to line up. He was here in the fall and he’s got the mentality for the position, but he has got to learn.”

Judging from the first day, it appears that under new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, the Cal quarterbacks will be lined up directly under center more often that they have in the past. 

“I think it is a different feel having the quarterback under center,” said veteran center Michael Saffell, one of the two players most directly involved. “I have a whole spring and whole fall. I have practiced with Chase (Garbers) and it is not something we have never done before.”

The Bears got their first look at punter Jamieson Sheahan, the Australian who has yet to play in an American football game. He participated in punting drills. “Good job, day one,” Wilcox said. “Actually lining up in football formation and punting. Looked like he’d done it before. A good start from where he was yesterday.”

He got off several kicks with the height and length that showed he could be an effective weapon. And a few that indicated he needs to develop consistency. 

Wilcox said that despite his unfamiliarity with the American game Sheahan will be tried as holder on place kicks.

Linebacker/defensive end Chinedu Udeogu, all 6-4, 270 pounds of him is being tried as a hybrid tight end fullback. Shades of Malik McMorris, who terrorized smaller defensive backs a couple of years ago.

“He played there in high school,” Wilcox said of Udeogu. “We are anxious to get him going.”

Garbers and Devon Modster did most of the quarterbacking in the team drills. Garbers had the play of the day when he hit Trevon Clark on a deep sideline pattern that resulted in a 57-yard touchdown, the sort of big gainer that was missing last year.

Marcel Dancy showed really good speed on a couple of inside runs and looked adept at picking up blitzing linebackers.

Outside backer Orin Patu made a nuisance of himself, getting into the backfield a couple of times on pass plays.

Cameron Bynum, the three-year starter at cornerback has been working at both safety and nickel back. He figures that not only will he help the Bears, demonstrating such versatility can do nothing but boost his stock with the NFL.

More stories:

Bear Insider Video: Musgrave Talks Recruiting, Return to College Game

Spring Football Starts This Week: Which Young Players Will Emerge?

Discussion from...

Spring Practice Day One: Four Players Out Until Fall; Minor Staff Shuffle

2,666 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 25 days ago by 71Bear
LunchTime
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The DC change is interesting.

I agree; If its not a significant change, why make it? Pay, maybe?
calumnus
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I like everything I read in this article about the offense.

What is up with all the "upper body injuries" that will keep tge defensive players out until Fall? Maybe torn pecs from bench pressing (like Nate Longshore)?
71Bear
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LunchTime said:

The DC change is interesting.

I agree; If its not a significant change, why make it? Pay, maybe?
Sounds like a way to get Tim D. more money now and prepare for the eventual departure of either DeRuyter or Sirmon.
71Bear
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calumnus said:

I like everything I read in this article about the offense.

What is up with all the "upper body injuries" that will keep tge defensive players out until Fall? Maybe torn pecs from bench pressing (like Nate Longshore)?
I would guess shoulders - not an unusual injury for a footballer. I remember one spring under JT when most of the OLers sat out because they were recovering from shoulder surgery.
calumnus
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71Bear said:

calumnus said:

I like everything I read in this article about the offense.

What is up with all the "upper body injuries" that will keep tge defensive players out until Fall? Maybe torn pecs from bench pressing (like Nate Longshore)?
I would guess shoulders - not an usual injury for a footballer. I remember one spring under JT when most of the OLers sat out because they were recovering from shoulder surgery.


That would make more sense given it is the middle of Spring practice. Are they wearing shoulder pads?
71Bear
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calumnus said:

71Bear said:

calumnus said:

I like everything I read in this article about the offense.

What is up with all the "upper body injuries" that will keep tge defensive players out until Fall? Maybe torn pecs from bench pressing (like Nate Longshore)?
I would guess shoulders - not an usual injury for a footballer. I remember one spring under JT when most of the OLers sat out because they were recovering from shoulder surgery.


That would make more sense given it is the middle of Spring practice. Are they wearing shoulder pads?
Quick note: I meant to say "unusual" injury...

And yes, they do wear shoulder pads once practice gets past the first couple sessions.
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