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Cal Football

Spring Practice Day 9 -- Musgrave Talks Quarterbacks

March 10, 2021
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Wednesday marks the 9th practice that Cal football has had since the end of the 2020 season, and they have sure hit the ground running. After an all-out live-tackle scrimmage on Saturday, the Bears put on the pads again this rainy morning. Afterwards, the media was glad to be joined by OC and QBs coach Bill Musgrave, who was rocking an Oakland A’s cap, sorry Giants fans.

Zach Johnson / Instagram
Z. Johnson at practice last week

In Saturday’s scrimmage, sophomore Zach Johnson filled up the stat sheet, completing 13 out of 15 of his passes for 145 yards and four touchdowns. There has been a general feeling that Johnson will claim the No. 2 spot this season at QB, and mild speculation that he could even compete with Chase Garbers for PT. Nonetheless, Musgrave gave his reaction to #19’s performance over the weekend.

“He is really embracing the offense,” said Musgrave. “He does a really good job at the huddle, both in the huddle and the at line of scrimmage when we do our no-huddle operations. He’s doing a super job knowing where everybody is. He gets through progressions at times. None of us get through them all the time, but he’s making strides in terms of his progressions and having a grasp on where everyone is gonna be if his first target happens to be covered.”

Tommy Christakos, who was interviewed after Musgrave, also gave notes on Johnson’s strengths.

“I’m great friends with Zach,” said the freshman. “I’d say his intellect (is a strength). He can read a defense, he knows the playbook inside and out, which is really impressive because we’re both learning the playbook as true freshmen. Zach acts like he’s been here for years, so I really think his intelligence on and off the field will help him succeed.” 

Regarding the No. 2 spot at QB, Musgrave said that the staff hasn’t talked about it yet. He said “we would probably make that determination between spring and fall. He added that “It’s great now because everyone is getting an equal amount of reps, because we want everyone to improve. That’s the real bottom line of spring football.”

Robby Rowell is another guy that put up big numbers on Saturday, completing 6 out of 9 of his passes for 81 yards and three touchdowns.

“Robby is an old-school football player,” said Musgrave. “Today of course he had another big day. When he pulls it down and runs he’s looking for smaller numbers to run over. He’s not going out of bounds, he’s not sliding. Making good throws too.

Spence (Brasch) had some really good throws today. I can think of a seam and also a go-route down the left side where Spencer just laid it right in there.”

Aside from the QBs, Musgrave also had a few things to say about the wide receiver unit, specifically the freshman turned sophomores this fall. Those guys didn’t have too many opportunites to play offense in the abbreviated season, with Musgrave mostly allowing experienced players to get those reps. With Makai Polk leaving and top-two WRs Nikko Remigio and Kekoa Crawford entering their last year, this season will be a prime opportunity for the young guns to garner experience.

“I think those guys are all gonna have a role. A couple of them are gonna be major contributors on special teams. And when somebody has a dominant trait, works hard or brings something to the table, we’re gonna find a role for them. We’ll carve out something and engineer something so that they can get on the field because they can help us win.

“A couple of them, Justin Baker and Aidan Lee have running back backgrounds from high school. Those guys, we can hand it to them, toss it, use them in some misdirection. They’re receivers but they are multi-faceted football players.

Cal Football / Instagram
J. Hunter going up for a pass last week

“(Jeremiah Hunter) got hurt last year,” said Coach Musgrave, “but if he wouldn’t have gotten hurt he would’ve played a major role for us. We’re glad to have him back healthy. The ball seems to find him. The ball just seems to find him down the middle of the field, down the sideline. He’s got a tremendous catch radius. He’ll play a major role.

Tommy (Christakos) has been playing our split-end spot, today we put him at flanker a little bit also. When he’s at the split-end, he’s a big target over there, runs good routes, and on those 50-50 balls where there’s moment-of-truth catches where he and a defender are there, here comes the ball in-route, who is gonna come down with it, we feel good about our chances with Tommy.

Mason Mangum may be the fastest guy on our team. Of course he runs track here at Cal. Mason can flat-out go from Austin, TX. Those guys are a real joy to have around.”

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Discussion from...

Spring Practice Day 9 -- Musgrave Talks Quarterbacks

3,753 Views | 8 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by GivemTheAxe
calumnus
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Interesting that Garbers is only mentioned in passing. Sounds like the staff is really high on Johnson.
71Bear
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calumnus said:

Interesting that Garners is only mentioned in passing. Sounds like the staff is really high on Johnson.
I would suggest that is because Garbers is a lock for #1 with a well-known history. There is no need to talk about him. Everyone already knows what to expect. The question this year is who will step up to be the "next guy". Johnson appears to have made a nice move forward in that race. And a follow-up question to consider - if Johnson becomes the #2, will Brasch transfer with Milner on the horizon?

MaxBear
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Staff
71Bear said:

calumnu said:

I would suggest that is because Garbers is a lock for #1 with a well-known history. There is no need to talk about him. Everyone already knows what to expect. The question this year is who will step up to be the "next guy". Johnson appears to have made a nice move forward in that race. And a follow-up question to consider - if Johnson becomes the #2, will Brasch transfer with Milner on the horizon?


Exactly. We actually didn't ask about Garbers which is why he isn't mentioned in the article. There will be notes on him as spring ball progresses, but the idea of this press conference was to get a feel for the back-ups, which we know little about. Musgrave would've been happy to talk about Chase had we asked.
calumnus
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MaxBear said:

71Bear said:

calumnu said:

I would suggest that is because Garbers is a lock for #1 with a well-known history. There is no need to talk about him. Everyone already knows what to expect. The question this year is who will step up to be the "next guy". Johnson appears to have made a nice move forward in that race. And a follow-up question to consider - if Johnson becomes the #2, will Brasch transfer with Milner on the horizon?


Exactly. We actually didn't ask about Garbers which is why he isn't mentioned in the article. There will be notes on him as spring ball progresses, but the idea of this press conference was to get a feel for the back-ups, which we know little about. Musgrave would've been happy to talk about Chase had we asked.


Thanks. Maybe add "backups" or "depth" to the title? NBD, greatly appreciate the article. Looking forward to seeing what Musgrave can do with a senior QB and a full year to prep.
UrsineMaximus
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Perhaps Garbers is the presumptive starter even in the coach's mind. It would be better if it was truly an open competition. Garbers' ceiling is well known at this point and his strongest attribute is running the ball.

For this offense to work under Musgrave, he will need a QB that is willing to throw in tight windows, on time and down field. If ZJ can do all of those things (Musgrave did note ZJ's ability to throw "on time") then perhaps the competition is more "open" than we are assuming.

Hopefully whomever emerges as 2nd string will get some meaningful PT in our OOC games. Cal needs to develop more depth at QB.
HuaHin (fka Uthai)
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71Bear said:

calumnus said:

Interesting that Garners is only mentioned in passing. Sounds like the staff is really high on Johnson.
I would suggest that is because Garbers is a lock for #1 with a well-known history. There is no need to talk about him. Everyone already knows what to expect. The question this year is who will step up to be the "next guy". Johnson appears to have made a nice move forward in that race. And a follow-up question to consider - if Johnson becomes the #2, will Brasch transfer with Milner on the horizon?


In that scenario, Brasch might transfer. I'd feel much better about Cal's future knowing we have 1-2 QBs in the wings who are a step above Brasch.
71Bear
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UrsineMaximus said:

Perhaps Garbers is the presumptive starter even in the coach's mind. It would be better if it was truly an open competition. Garbers' ceiling is well known at this point and his strongest attribute is running the ball.

For this offense to work under Musgrave, he will need a QB that is willing to throw in tight windows, on time and down field. If ZJ can do all of those things (Musgrave did note ZJ's ability to throw "on time") then perhaps the competition is more "open" than we are assuming.

Hopefully whomever emerges as 2nd string will get some meaningful PT in our OOC games. Cal needs to develop more depth at QB.
I disagree. Garbers is the #1 and should be treated as such. He is a skilled QB who has proven his value. The old saying, "if you have two QB's, you have none" is so true. Yes, Cal needs to identify a back-up and prepare him to play in case of an injury to CG; however, that should not take away from the prep time required by Garbers to effectively lead the team.
GivemTheAxe
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UrsineMaximus said:

Perhaps Garbers is the presumptive starter even in the coach's mind. It would be better if it was truly an open competition. Garbers' ceiling is well known at this point and his strongest attribute is running the ball.

For this offense to work under Musgrave, he will need a QB that is willing to throw in tight windows, on time and down field. If ZJ can do all of those things (Musgrave did note ZJ's ability to throw "on time") then perhaps the competition is more "open" than we are assuming.

Hopefully whomever emerges as 2nd string will get some meaningful PT in our OOC games. Cal needs to develop more depth at QB.

I disagree that CG's strongest attribute is running.
In the last true season (2019) I was impressed with his improved accuracy passing at the long and mid-distance. He showed a much improved accuracy. For this I credit BB. It was difficult to determine whether he had maintained that accuracy in 2020 because of the Covid-caused chaos.
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