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Fall Camp Day 8 Report -Scrimmage #1

August 13, 2022
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MEMORIAL STADIUM -From Jack Plummer to Tommy Christakos to Myles Jernigan and Jeremiah Hunter, fall camp is truly highlighting the strengths of the Cal football team and the impressive work of the players in today’s first scrimmage of fall camp, with Pac-12 officials officiating throughout the session.

With the ones, twos and threes getting in about 90 reps, the team is putting in the work - and based on their results, getting excited about the upcoming season. Beyond the playing, the communication and mechanics of the team are clearly improving as the players spend more and more time together. 

One major focus of camp, and specifically in the offensive line, seems to be focusing on the new additions and ensuring that the team has depth and that every player is getting repetitions. 

“The news guys have totally been fully committed as soon as they got on this campus,” offensive line coach Angus McClure said. “I think the leadership of Matt Cindric and Ben Coleman has been outstanding. With the new NCAA rules, we were able to work with the guys in the month of June, but when July comes we're hands off, so I really appreciate the leadership from the offensive line room taking in those new guys.” 

“We’re working on [developing depth in the o-line] every day,” head coach Justin Wilcox said. “We’re always going to be a work in progress but I think some of those younger guys are coming along. I think they're doing a good job battling through there and picking things up.”

“When you’re able to add to your roster it creates competition, and competition only makes guys better, and that's what we’re seeing in the o - line group right now, a lot of competition,” McClure added.  

McClure also mentioned the importance of putting the players in different positions and ensuring that they are ready for anything. 

“I like to have guys train two different positions because we never know how it ends up, so we have to have guys ready,” McClure said. “Just like Bastian (Swinney) played center last year at Arizona. That was the first time he ever snapped the ball in a game in his entire life, in a Pac-12 football game, so he did a great job.”

At camp today the starting O-line were Coleman at LT, Driscoll at OG, Cincric at C, Lovelle at OG, and Rohme at RT. That unit has played together for the last 3 practices since Lovelle moved into the starting lineup along with Driscoll after both started with the twos early in camp.

“Spencer brings experience in this conference (slated to start at ASU after spring ball). He has great size, so we’re really focusing on his technique,” McClure said. “He's a very bright guy, so he’s picked up the offense, picked up the calls - he's doing very well.

“Brayden worked extremely hard in the offseason. He's put on good size, and good strength. He’s a film junkie, he’s always working and that's the impressive thing,” McClure said. “In my three years with him, I’ve never seen him have a bad effort or practice ever.”

“I think they work pretty well together,” said Wilcox of the starting OL. So much of that is the technique but also working with the other guys. I thought they did a good job at pass protection, the run stuff I thought got better as the day went on.”

As for the quarterbacks, Jack Plummer started with the ones today as usual and continued to demonstrate his growing comfort level with the offense and tight passes. To open practice, he hit Tommy Christakos over the middle for 20 yards, Mason Mangum for 14 yards and Jeremiah Hunter for 20 yards RB Damien Moore had carries for 7 yards and for 8 yards. Later in the early session, Mason Starling had a catch for 18, among other impressive plays. J.Michael Sturdivant also had a 30-yard diving catch from Plummer. 

Hunter also mentioned that Plummer seems to be getting more comfortable with making the tougher passes downfield. 

“I think the chemistry with the quarterbacks is good,” Hunter said. “Throughout practice [Plummer] is just trusting us a lot - we’re throwing it downfield and we've been winning our matchups, so as long as we keep doing that, he's going to just trust us more and more and keep throwing it deep.”

Hunter himself had a highlight reel, one-handed 30-yard circus catch, as well as a 12-yard gain in the first round. 

Freshmen quarterback Fernando Mendoza also seems to be making an impression on the coaches and the players alike, battling hard out on the field and putting pressure on redshirt soph QB Zach Johnson for third team reps.

“He’s learning so much each and every day and if you ask anybody, Fernando is one of the most eager guys that you will meet. He is hungry to learn and he makes the most out of his reps. There's no doubt about it he’s got a strong arm and is just very, very conscientious,” Wilcox said. “We went live with the QBs and he wasn’t afraid to pull the ball and stick his head in there to get some extra yards, and then he made a nice play on the two-point play to lay the ball out as he was getting hit, so I think [ the team ] appreciates the toughness at that position. It was nice for [Mendoza] to be able to display that in front of the team.” 

Mendoza had multiple impressive plays during the session, one to Grant Daley for 10 yards and one to Jordan King for 10, as well. However, Wilcox made it clear that it's too early to tell quite yet if he is challenging for the third spot. 

“I think right now for Fernando, each and every rep is just gaining some experience,” Wilcox said. “We’re still early enough in camp that all those guys are getting reps. And Zach’s been doing a good job, and all those guys are working to get better. But we’ll release the depth chart when it's appropriate.” 

Johnson also ran some plays, including a 40-yard completion late in the session. POW ILB McKyle So’oto had a nice pick six on Johnson though it looked like a miscommunication when RB Chris Street didn’t turn around for the pass  As did Kai Milner, who had completions of 8 yards to Justin Baker, 15 yards and 8 yards to Christakos for a first down, and hit on another beautiful pass to Christakos for 30 yards. Milner also hit Daly for 25 on a great leaping catch from the former De La Salle Spartan. Later, Isaiah Young jumped a route and got a pick-six from the 40 on Milner. 

“Isaiah Young had a pick six on the first play of a drive,” Wilcox said. “Hell of a play by him.” 

Really standing out today was Christakos, who made several impressive catches, one of them being a stretched-out grab from Plummer for an 8-yard first down. 

Hunter, Baker and Lu-Magia Hearns took turns on the punt return team today. Mavin Anderson and Mason Mangum also had a turn, as well. 

As for the defense, Jernigan had a great practice, with several impressive tackles for losses, including a 3-yard TFL on Decarlos Brooks. Brooks later battled for a 3-yard TD run. 

Frosh corner continues Jeremiah Earby continues to impress with his tight coverage. length and athleticism.

“Earby’s really doing everything we’re asking him and he’s learning a lot again, just because there's a lot of multiples on defense right now,” said Wilcox. And then when you add the offense and some of the unique formations and route concepts that our offense has, it’s good for him. So everything’s brand new but he’s a competitor. He's got really good ball skills and he's a very natural athlete. He’s just one of those guys where what you were hoping for when you watched his high school tape is really showing up here. His agility his athleticism his tracking the ball, transitioning in and out of breaks.”

Notes:

  • Brett Johnson and Darius Long got the first reps on the defensive line in their opening 2-4-5 alignment
  • Braxten Croteau and Odua Isabor started at outside linebacker, with Jackson Sirmon and Femi Oladejo at ILB
  • Isaiah Young and Collin Gamble got the start at CB and Miles Williams and Daniel Scott at safety

Other scrimmage highlights:

  • Johnson with a big hit on the first running play on Moore 
  • Moore followed up later with a nine-yard run 
  • Big sideline hit by Henry Ikahihifo
  • 44 and 48 yard field goals by Dario Longhetto along with a miss from 49
  • A pair of 46-yard field goals by frosh Michal Luckhurst that could’ve been good from 10 yards farther out and great loft
  • An 18-yard catch and run by RB Jaydn Ott 
  • A 3 yard TFL by earby on Hayes 
  • An 8-yard run by street 
  • A Fernando Mendoza 20-yard completion to WR Jordan King

Wilcox on the Bears’ brightening prospects in the kicking game:

“I think Dario since he's been here, his leg has gotten stronger and stronger which is a tribute to him and I think he’s in a pretty good rhythm right now. And Michael Luckhurst who has joined us this year has also proven that he's got a strong leg. He really gets the ball up. You probably notice it from the sideline, so we're glad to have a guy like him on our roster.”

More from McClure on the OL depth and versatility:

“Driscoll’s a guy that's experienced,” said offensive line coach Angus McClure. “He's played left guard, right guard, and center for us. He’s one of our better run blockers. Right now he's at left guard and he is getting snaps at center, so he is working at times with the two’s (at center) to get those extra snaps in. He’s snapping before practice, after practice, so we’re always getting those reps with the quarterbacks. And again, he brings a physical presence in there and he’s doing an outstanding job.”

“So we train all the young guys how to snap. Deshawn Harris is our young guy right now at center. He’s doing a great job coming in and learning the system. He’s from Sierra Canyon. He's never snapped the ball before. It's for the betterment of these guys and their development.” 

Receivers Jeremiah Hunter and Mavin Anderson on their favorite catches of fall camp so far:

“The one today was pretty wild,” said Hunter, of his one-handed grab. “I just liked it because it was in (the) two minutes (drills) so it was a huge play and we got a field goal out of it, so that's what makes me happy. I had a fade route and just went inside of them and it was kind of like a jump ball, like a rebound, so I just went up and got it like a rebound.” 

“ My favorite one so far at camp was yesterday,” said Anderson. “I  had a back shoulder ball that Jack threw and I kind of just plucked it pulled it back and rolled over. I thought for sure that was my best catch so far.”

On the offense’s growing aggressiveness downfield:

“I feel like coach Musgrave sees what we're doing as a group offensively with our wide receivers so you’re starting to see the 11 personnel and the 10 personnel start to pop up a little more. So I feel like that's proof of his trust in us,” said Hunter.

Some official stats:

Jack Plummer: 18-of-22 for 171 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions with his touchdown toss on a 20-yard strike to Mavin Anderson. Led the offense to points in each of his four possessions.  

Kai Millner (13-of-17, 116 yards, 1 INT)

Fernando Mendoza (4-of-7, 14 yards, 1 TD -called a 2 pt conversion)

Jeremiah Hunter (3-46)

J.Michael Sturdivant (3-36)

Mavin Anderson (3-32, TD)

Damien Moore (7-28) got the bulk of the running back reps with the top offense.

Dario Longhetto capped each of the other three drives with field goals from 22, 23 and 48 yards out.

Ethan Saunders: 4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack and one quarterback hurry.

The No. 1 units were in for approximately 70 of the day's 94 plays.

Ashton Stredick had the game's only rushing touchdown on a 40-yarder for the No. 3 offense while adding three catches for seven yards

Jaydn Ott had a game-high five catches for 42 yards out of the backfield working with the No. 2 offense as well as two rushes for six yards.

Tommy Christakos: 3 receptions for a game-high 47 yards

Grant Daley (3-35)

Mason Starling (2-29).

The defense also spent a lot of the day in the offensive backfield with 13 team tackles for loss and 8 sacks.

And last but not least, today’s Bear Olympics:

The Bears will get their second break of the fall session tomorrow and be back in action on Monday at Memorial.

More stories:

Emptying the Notebook on Cal's First Fall Camp Scrimmage

Fall Camp Day 7 Report

Discussion from...

Fall Camp Day 8 Report -Scrimmage #1

3,455 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by MoragaBear
KenBurnski
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Outstanding report. Really appreciate the detailed coverage. Is there a chance that Mendoza could leap Milner for the backup slot?
BearGreg
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Staff
We're going to discuss exactly that topic tonight on Chat at 730pm. Join us.
Bobodeluxe
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Last year, there really wasn't a backup qb, so we can only hope that newcomers are able to take the top two quarterback slots.
SBGold
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Mendoza is a fighter and expects to compete. We need to keep him
Nasal Mucus Goldenbear
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Mendoza has surprising poise answering questions in front of the camera. Reminds me of Bryce Treggs as a true frosh. Different personalities but as verbally gifted. After his playing days, could become a coach, tv commentator, office holder, or billionaire mogul.



MoragaBear
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Staff
He's a guy who's totally focused on doing everything within his power to be a complete player and that includes being as poised and prepared as he can be on and off the field. Lives in the film room, too.
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