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Fall Camp Day 14 Report -Scrimmage #2

August 20, 2022

As fall camp nears an end, the Bears are continuing to work hard and highlight their skills, regardless of how tired they might be. With the sun shining bright above Memorial Stadium and music pumping from the speakers, the Bears got right to work heading into their 14th day of fall camp. Scattered across the field in their position-specific drills, the players worked on their nimble footwork and quick changes of direction, before progressing into 7x7 and 11x11 scrimmage drills.

“There's always things you can nit-pick and things you can get better at. I think coming out here, it's tough. Week two of camp, we just went through 6, 8 -10 hour days, so we’re tired,” Matt Cindric said. “But it's about fighting through those things and learning how to play when you’re tired. You’re putting yourself in a worse situation than you would be in a game, so hopefully, once the game comes around you're doing a lot better, you're going to be a little more fresh, and your minds going to be a little sharper. Obviously, things to improve are there, but I think the guys put forth a good effort today.”

After having a rare, somewhat difficult practice a few days ago, redshirt junior QB Jack Plummer continued to play well today, with several impressive passes including a 27-yard pass to Jeremiah Hunter, an 8-yard pass to Sturdivant, a 15-yard pass to Mavin Anderson, and a 9-yard pass to Young. 

“That's one of the things you've got to deal with playing football - you're gonna have a bad day and it's about how you respond,” Plummer said of his off-day earlier this week. “I get frustrated with myself. I’m the biggest critic of myself, which is how I think it should be. Sometimes it's hard to hit that reset button but that's what you’ve got to do.”

“[Jack] moved the ball well, and now it's about finishing in the red zone, which is a huge emphasis of ours and we'll continue to rep that during practice and create those team periods and scrimmages situations,” head coach Justin Wilcox said. “I think he's got really good command of the offense, he threw some really good balls.

“I thought there were a few really good contested plays by the defense and the offense, which is what you want to see. You don't want to see guys running wide open and it's an easy pitch and catch and vice versa, you don't want to see them all not getting out on time, or overthrowing or underthrowing. We saw a lot of contested plays which is a positive, now we just gotta continue to iron out some of the execution on both sides.”

As for the rest of the offense, Plummer agreed that there was maybe more of a ball control-oriented offense today, explaining, “We wanted to see what kind of run plays we can get in an open field and we did a pretty good job. And then we tried a couple downfield. We had some good plays I think. but again, it has to come within the flow of the offense. You can't force it down the field. It's got to come naturally.” 

Plummer is happy so far with the weapons he has to work with and how they’ve grown through spring and fall camp.

“I just think the versatility, being able to run the ball, throw the ball down the field, give it to guys who are quick (have been strengths),” said Plummer. “The different personnel groups, it will be hard for defenses to prepare for something. We go deep in our receiver room. We’ve got a lot of running backs that can play, so it should be fun.” 

Frosh QB Fernando Mendoza also had a good day, completing 6/6 of his passes. Some of his highlights included an 11-yard pass to Justin Baker, a 20-yard pass to Baker, a 7-yard TD pass to Baker, and a 20-yard TD pass to WR Chris Rogers, who made an impressive catch in tight coverage to end the day on a high note. Rogers also had a 5-yard TD reception from QB Zach Johnson.

Redshirt frosh QB Kai Millner continued to have some struggles on the field today but also had some solid plays. Trey Paster had a sack on Millner on a blitz, but soon after Millner threw a 30-yard TD pass to WR Tommy Christakos. He also made a nice 7-yard pass to Stredick and a 10-yard pass to Christakos. Mixed in were several interceptions, something that’s continued to plague the redshirt junior during camp.

Given that there are two weeks until the first game, Cindric predicts that they will likely know who the starters on the line will be in the next week or so. 

“I think we have 7, 8, even 9 guys who could play in the game, and Angus is not afraid of getting all those guys reps,” Cindric said. “So coming into the week, I'm sure we'll know who’s going to be out there for the first snap, but we'll all be ready and we've been making groups so we know how everyone communicates. We will all be ready to play together.”

Cindric also mentioned that the team seems to have a much better understanding of the offense than they have had in past years. 

“I think last year was the first year we started to feel comfortable with the offense - obviously covid year, it was tough to learn it - but now we've gotten so many reps at it,” Cindric said. “I was telling coach, now it's less about ‘ok what do I have to do on this play,’ and more about, ‘ok what is the defense doing, how can I improve that much more?’ All the guys in the O-line feel that at this point. I've been in this offense longer than any other offense now, so we can just really go, and that helps you with development. You can really focus on the small things technique-wise, rather than just what your assignment is.”

Cindric was one of several veterans given some time off this week and used the time to his advantage.

“It's definitely different when you take a step back and watch practice,” Cindric said. “You see where guys are improving. You watch the film but it's a little bit different in person, so it was really cool to see that.

“I think there are a lot of guys who do a lot of really good things. And the best thing about this camp is that I think everyone's been improving. We're not making the same mistake over and over again, so that's been really good. Some of those young guys are doing a really good job.” 

One of the highlights of the day was the showcasing of the continued improved leg strength of kicker Dario Longhetto, who had a 30-yard field goal and a 55-yard field goal that cleared the crossbar by 5 or 6 yards. 

According to Wilcox, although Longhetto had a great kick, depending on him for that during a game is dependent upon Longhetto's own comfort level and how he is feeling.

“I mean, it depends on him. We don’t pick the weather. I hope we’re playing on good days when we need that kick, but it doesn’t always work like that,” Wilcox said. “He's hit it from deep before and I think Dario has gotten better throughout his career. I always talk to him before every game. Ask him two questions - ‘Do you feel like you’re 100 percent and what's the longest you can kick it if we have to have it?’ We’ll just wait until game day and see what those elements are, and go from there.”

The offensive line also seems to be really taking the staff’s feedback and committing to translating it to the field, something that Cindric says has been very beneficial. 

“I think [ the o-line] has done really well. I think there's always things to improve, but for the most part, it seems like what we're talking about in meetings, we’re putting it on the field,” Cindric said. “The new guys have caught up to speed really fast and as I mentioned earlier, being in the offense now for almost three years, it comes more naturally now.” 

Cindric was asked about the impact of former center Mike Saffell has had on the line since he’s been assisting veteran OL coach Angus McClure.

“First thing, he adds just a lot of fun energy, he's always bringing it every day which is fun to have around. He gets the guys going. And how smart he is, he played at a really high level he was an all-Pac-12 guy so what he knows about the game is pretty impressive. Especially technique-wise, he’ll really help you. And there's 18 of us, so with just Angus, it's hard to get individual attention every rep, so having that second set of eyes is huge.

“Without Mike, I probably wouldn’t be the center I am today, so he’s been a huge help for me so it's been awesome to have him. 

“I think [ the o-line] has done really well. I think there are always things to improve but for the most part, it seems like what we're taking in meetings, were putting it on the field, so obviously, things here and there to correct but the new guys have caught up to speed really fast and as i mentioned earlier, being in the offense now for almost three years, it comes more naturally now so just moe technique things to continue to work on.

Some highlights and notes on the day:

  • Mavin Anderson and Jeremiah Hunter handled punt returns and Baker handled kick returns
  • Runs of 7 yards by Damien Moore, Brooks for 10, an 8-yard Jaydn Ott run, a15-yard run by Ashton Hayes, and a 25-yard quick pass and run to Stredick by QB Zach Johnson 
  • A 30-yard Longhetto field goal 
  • A Lopez 48-yard field goal, who also missed from 51
  • A 51-yard field goal by Michael Luckhurst along with a miss from 48.
  • TFL by Femi Oladejo, who was very active all scrimmage
  • An Ikahihifo pass defended on a Johnson pass
  • Johnson completions to Stredick for 8 
  • A Mendoza swing pass to WR Jordan King that went for 15 with yards after the catch

The Bears will have the day off Sunday and will close out fall camp the following two days before classes start and practice transitions to UC Davis game prep.


Discussion from...

Fall Camp Day 14 Report -Scrimmage #2

4,315 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by kal kommie
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Wilcox seemed like the Force experienced a disturbance tho the guys were pretty upbeat. I hope that tackling and scoring touchdowns in the red zone aren't issues this year.
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I like what we are hearing about Mendoza. If he keeps producing like this I hope he gets a shot, maybe some reps in the Davis game?
kal kommie
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Good report, thanks
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