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Wilcox Addresses Media on Pac-12 Media Day

October 7, 2020
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In a year of disruption and accompanying adjustments, this year’s Pac-12 Media Day was moved from it’s usual July in-person format in Hollywood to a Zoom session in October, which would normally be well into the season.

Cal head coach Justin Wilcox addressed the media this morning, fielding 25 minutes of questions on the upcoming season.

“Our players are back on campus and preparing for a Friday start to our full practice as we prepare for the November 7th opener,” said Wilcox. “Really appreciative of our our chancellor and our athletic department for the steps they've taken to help provide environment for us and our players to get back on the practice field. It's it's been difficult for a lot of people out there.

“We're trying to do our part to get back on the field and do what we all love to do and that's to play the game of football.”

Though the team is close to being cleared to practice, they’re not quite there yet.

“We are not cleared as of today,” noted Wilcox. “We are anticipating getting clearance today or tomorrow and that would be the final piece that would allow us to practice in cohorts of 75.

“We anticipate getting that approval. It's not our decision. We followed protocol set forth by the state and our public health officials and then our our doctors and trainers and sports medicine staff. So we anticipate getting that clearance. But again, it's it's not my decision to make.”

The mandated time away from the field and organized activities has forced the staff to be creative keeping the roster ready to go.

“It's been a collaborative effort on figuring out how to do the meetings on Zoom. We've been working on that since March, it seems like now. And how to engage with our players when you can't see him face to face physically. So a lot of Zoom meetings. And then when we were able to come back and do some things physically with them -outdoor weight rooms, the protocol to get into the stadium, how they how they set the whole thing up. So really nice job by everybody involved.

“Took a lot of work and we're constantly adjusting based on what the public health order directive is. So whether it's strength and conditioning or treatment or how we get them food, how we do their laundry. The players obviously go into virtual classes, virtual academic meetings, and there's just a lot of logistics involved. And when you got a team of over one hundred people -and that's just the players- and then you add staff and support staff...there’s just there's there's quite a bit to it.

“We're still going to have to adjust going forward. I don't I don't think this is going to be kind of plug and play. Even as of now, we're in groups of 16 to 18 players, give or take, with some kind of on the field workouts and conditioning exercises with our strength staff. And then we start Friday. We have cohorts of seventy five. So there's some broken practices, basically two different practices. So you can make sure to continue to develop everybody on your team and still abide by the public health guidelines and provide an environment that everybody's approved of.”

During the interim, Wilcox and staff are happy with how their players have adapted.

“They've done just a great job,”said Wilcox of the players. “I mean, it's not easy for anybody. Not easy for you (the media) or our players or anybody out there with what's going on. And it's confusing at times when certain parts of the country, they're doing different things. So it's trying to make sense of that. 

“It can be frustrating in a lot of ways. And so I think their mentality is just kind of creating a rhythm for their day and how they operate right now, I think they've done a really good job and they're really eager to get back. And we were able to do some things with them here in the last couple of weeks and just actually see them in person, so that's been great. And I think they're just excited to get going.

“We still have a lot of work to do and not only on the football field, but just how we navigate all this. So I think they're there, energized. But I'm proud of them, just how they've handled it. And they've gotten a lot of support from our our campus and our athletic department. In the meantime.”

The dawn of the 2020 season saw a roster lighter by several names than it was in the spring. Among the players Wilcox noted opted out for the 2020 season were DE Gabe Cherry, WR Jeremiah Hawkins, safety Isaiah Humphries, safety Steve Macintosh, LB Ben Moose, NT Miles Owens and OLB Tevin Paul.

“There were guys that opted out for COVID concerns, and we support those guys and their decisions. Everybody has to make their own decisions about what's best for them. And then there's some guys who made decisions beyond beyond COVID - just life decisions. So there’s kind of a mix of guys in there. I think we have a total of seven, eight, nine scholarship players and walk-on players who made decisions this offseason and will not be with us.”

Early returns in games started since the resumption of the collegiate season have seen uneven and sometimes surprising results for even the best of programs.

“There are going to be challenges in preparing the team for the season,” said Wilcox. “We're not going to make any excuses on the limitations. We have a game November 7th that we've got to prepare for. And our job as coaches is to prepare the team so that they can be confident and healthy and have good fundamentals and so we can go out and play our best.So I think How we practice is really going to be really important. What you’re working on, having a really clear and concise message during during that actual drills or the day. There's just not a lot of room or time for for waste so I think that's a test for for us as coaches and our team and I and we look forward to that.”

The Bears received a boost with the return of veteran starting cornerback Camryn Bynum, who reversed course and decided to return once a fall season was assured, giving him time to prepare for the NFL draft in 2021.

“Cam’s a fantastic player,” said Wilcox. :Really, really good football player. And he's been extremely productive for a long time for us. But he's an even better person. And what he brings off the field., how how he conducts himself. How he prepares and how he lives his life.

“I mean, he just a fantastic guy and a great example for for our our team and our younger players. And Cam's not a real rah rah, loud guy, but he is so consistent and so motivated. And you see it every day in his actions. And that is golden in terms of leadership qualities and what that means to our team and the players who are new to the program and watching a guy who's had a lot of success but continues to work at his craft, continues to push himself and be a leader. Just the type of person he is and what he does off the field, how he treats people. He's just a he's a special guy.”

“Cam’s a fantastic player. Really, really good football player. And he's been extremely productive for a long time for us. But he's an even better person. And what he brings off the field., how how he conducts himself. How he prepares and how he lives his life.
- Cal head coach Justin Wilcox on the return of CB Camryn Bynum
 

With the departures of seniors Luc Bequette and Chinedu Udeogu as grad transfers and additional opt outs, the Bears’ d-line is thinner than usual. How do they plan to address the situation?

“There are new faces and there's gonna be some guys that have opportunities to play,” said Wilcox, “And I think those guys are going to be ready to take that step. Now, it might not be one person. It might be a combination of people. We hate losing Luc, who is a veteran guy that played a lot. Obviously, you don't love that. But that's that's kind of the way it is. And so there's some other guys who are gonna have some opportunities. And again, whether it's guys that have been here for a year or two or maybe some of these freshmen - I think they they've been here working out and we'll get them in whatever role they could potentially help us and we'll get them prepared and and they can do something. And they’ll be out there on the field.

Could some former defensive linemen like Erick Nisich or Ben Coleman move back to the DL?

“Yeah, there's some package things we could do. We've we've talked through some of that. But we'll see. You know, we're we're moving forward as is right now. And again, this is one of those things we've talked about today, it's just we've got to be ready to adjust, whether it's how we practice or what the schedule is or even positions. And a lot of things could happen. So we've got to be ready to adjust, and that's certainly possible.”

One advantage the veteran Bears’ squad have coming into this season is a QB who won every game he started and finished in 2019 and is full of confidence.

“I thnk Chase has done awesome job this offseason continuing to be really engaged with with (OC) Bill (Musgrave) and the new offense,” said Wilcox.

“Chase has played a lot of football for us. And he’s still is a junior. He seems like he's been here for a long time. And that's a good thing for us. He's been through a lot and played a lot. So I think he's going to continue to grow as a football player, as a person. He's older and he's seen a lot more. We just anticipate him building on what he's done so far. And he's done a fantastic job picking up the offense.

“He's a sharp guy, steady. Very, very steady demeanor. So I look forward him continuing to grow as a quarterback. And I think he’ll be really good. It’s a new experience for him learning this offense and he's picked it up very, very quickly, which is a tribute to the coaches, the system. And Bill working with him, it's it's been really neat to see.”

Wilcox followed up his morning session with an interview with the Pac-12 Network, diving a bit deeper into the upcoming season and the challenges presented by the abbreviated schedule.

The Pac-12 Network’s Yogi Roth had high praise for the Bears, calling them his sleeper pick to finish first in the Pac-12 North. He also called returning 5th year senior cornerback Camryn Bynum the top returning DB in the league.

Interview with Pac-12 Network's Yogi Roth and Ashley Adamson

Stay tuned for more this week as players are available for comment.

Other stories:

Cal Picked To Finish Second In Pac-12 North

2020 Fall Camp Football Roster

Discussion from...

Wilcox Addresses Media on Pac-12 Media Day

3,360 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 14 days ago by calumnus
oskidunker
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Were any of the opt outs penciled as starters?
71Bear
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oskidunker said:

Were any of the opt outs penciled as starters?
Since there is so much rotation on defense, I think a better question would be.... Were any of the opt outs expected to see significant PT on defense?
72CalBear
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Saved!!! Replaced Coach Wilcox interview for debate. One reporter hinting at Garbers vs Garbers (brother QB at UW).
MoragaBear
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Staff
oskidunker said:

Were any of the opt outs penciled as starters?
Tevin Paul was a likely starter at OLB. Hawkins was in the WR rotation. The others weren't in the 2 deeps.

Collins wasn't an opt out. He left the program quite a few months ago. But when he was healthy, he was in the RB rotation, too.
calumnus
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MoragaBear said:

oskidunker said:

Were any of the opt outs penciled as starters?
Tevin Paul was a likely starter at OLB. Hawkins was in the WR rotation. The others weren't in the 2 deeps.

Collins wasn't an opt out. He left the program quite a few months ago. But when he was healthy, he was in the RB rotation, too.


Do we know where Collins went?
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