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Fall Camp Day 12 Report

August 18, 2022

MEMORIAL STADIUM - The sunny comfortable weather seen throughout camp till yesterday returned again today and after an uncharacteristic off-day for starting QB Jack Plummer, so was the presumptive starter’s sharpness.

Outside of a fluky tipped-ball interception early in practice, the redshirt junior QB was sharp as a tack all practice, hitting passes consistently on every level.

Head coach Justin Wilcox downplayed the notion that any coaching up or advice might be useful after a rougher practice for one of his QBs.

“Jack doesn’t need a lot of pep talks,” Wilcox said. “He knows what he’s doing. There’s going to be times when something happens in a game. I’d love to say we’re going to go through the whole season without a turnover but we might have one and how we bounce back from that is important. 

“We did a fantastic job of that last year protecting the football. We’ll aim to do that again and if something bad happens or the defense makes a great play -that happens once in a while. Like yesterday, Craig Woodson made a play (on one of Plummer’s INTs) that you don’t see very often. 

“He bounced back great. He’s a headstrong person so I’m not worried one bit.”

Some of the many highlights for Plummer Thursday included a beautiful 45-yard completion to WR Grant Daley, completions to J.Michael Sturdivant for 25, 10 and 7 yards, to Jeremiah Terry for 7, to Jeremiah Hunter for 25 yards in tight coverage on the sideline as well as for 10, to fullback Andy Alfieri for 10 and to Tommy Christakos for 8 yards. Plummer also had a perfect back-shoulder completion to rs frosh WR Mavin Anderson for 40.

Backup Kai Millner avoided any of the INTs that have plagued him recently, completing passes to Elijah Mojarro for 20, to RB DeCarlos Brooks for 8 yards, and also picking up 8 yards on a scramble. Millner also had his longest completion of the day to WR Trond Grizzell for a 48-yard TD after the rs frosh came back for the underthrown ball and shook his defender to score on the 15-yard run after catch.

New third-string QB Fernando Mendoza was sharp again, completing passes for Justin Baker for 20, frosh TE Jack Endries for 15, Daley for 8 and KJ Robinson for 7.

RS frosh QB Tyler Jensen also had a 25-yard completion to rs frosh WR Justin Baker on a laid-out diving catch.

Frosh RB Jaydn Ott was sharp on the ground for the second straight day, picking up a pair of 8-yard runs, a 5-yard run and an impressive 42-yard TD run, flashing his considerable speed and cutting ability on the play. RS soph Damien Moore also had a 15-yard run.

Senior OLB Odua Isabor also had a sack on Plummer in the first series.

Punt returns were primarily handled by Jeremiah Hunter, who looked slippery on returns. Kick returns were handled by Mavin Anderson, Hunter, and Lu Hearns.

Overall Wilcox is happy with the progress of fall camp so far.

“I think the biggest thing has been the urgency at practice,” Wilcox said. “You don’t see a lot of repetitive mistakes. I would say today we had a couple periods that weren’t our best. We talked about that after. Understanding that every day is not day one and you have to create that energy and focus. Understanding your body’s going to get a little bit sore and the monotony of camp can build but for the most part, I think they’ve done a really good job of coming out with focus and that’s allowed us to make improvements and fine-tune things and allow us to make improvements offensively and defensively. 

“We put a lot in early. Most of the offense and defense were in really early, along with special teams. Now it’s about focusing on the details.

“I think you’re always looking to build more competitive depth,” Wilcox said. “I can’t think of any place I’ve coached or any coach that I know where it ever feels like you don’t need more competitive depth. It’s certainly improved. I’m sure of that. But we need to continue.”

While Wilcox wouldn’t come right out and agree that the program has largely built the type of quality depth the program has lacked over the years -even among some of the Bears’ best teams. But he did acknowledge that they’d feel freer to rotate at many positions where presumably the drop-off from starters to backups is more negligible than in the past.

“Yeah, you don’t want guys to get injured but that’s the unfortunate reality of our game,” Wilcox noted. “But there’s probably more positions where we’re going to rotate more players. That’s fair to say.”

Some of the veterans like center Matt Cindric, DE Brett Johnson and safety Daniel Scott all had the day off. Wilcox noted that none had injuries but had a lot of reps under their belt already. He noted that none of them wanted the day off but had to be coaxed to take a break.

“They’re working hard like so many other guys but they just have a lot more snaps under their belt so we felt like it was a good day for them to pull them out and they’ll be back tomorrow,” Wilcox said. He also noted that there currently aren’t plans to hold many out for Saturday’s scrimmage and that Friday’s practice would be condensed, in spider pads.

Today also marked the beginning of the end of an era, as longtime radio play-by-play announcer Joe Starkey took in practice and addressed the media wistfully afterward to talk about his decision to step down after the season after 47 years of calling Cal football.

In characteristic Starkey style, the veteran broadcaster quipped that his retirement would be right after Cal’s appearance in the Rose Bowl, which last occurred 16 years before to took over the mic at Memorial.

“My theory on this whole situation - I was really close to Bill Walsh when he was the head coach of the Niners,” said Starkey. “We talk about when he cut guys. His main mantra was, ‘Go home a year early. Cut him a year early. Trade him a year early rather than a year late. 

“My concern has always been that I didn’t want to be the guy that stayed a year too long and have people say, ‘Geez, he didn’t get that right.’

“I’ve had a heck of a run. I may already be the oldest guy play-by-play guy in the country for all I know. I still enjoy it but I think it’s time.”

Stay tuned for more from the legendary Bears’ announcer.


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Fall Camp Day 12 Report

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