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Wilcox Fields Questions as Spring Ball Set to Kick Off

March 6, 2023
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“It’ll be significantly different than what we have done in the past,” Wilcox said. “Jake (Spavital) is a really good coach, as is Coach (Mike) Bloesch and Tim Plough. There’s some really good football minds in there. Systematically, you can see why those guys have been so successful.

“There's still a lot to be determined based on our roster and learning our strengths. But it's been really enjoyable sitting in there with those guys and going through the details of installation and what it's going to look like.”

Wilcox was asked about some of the differences that will be apparent in the offense.

“The formations will be different,” Wilcox noted. “There’s only so many ways you can line up 11 people and be legal. There’s going to be differences in the formations, pace of play, style of run, and style of pass. It’s a pretty significant shift. Players have done a nice job in the meeting time we have been allotted. But we need to go out there and practice. We need to play the game.”

The philosophy behind Spavital’s new offense will be a fairly stark contrast to former OC Bill Musgrave’s complicated pro sets that often failed to generate much offense and consistently move the chains.

“There’s a lot of reasons people do it,” Wilcox said. “There’s good reasons like creating space for your players, creating angles, and numbers in the run game. You are or aren’t using the quarterback as a run threat and that changes everything as we know. So, I think having options and having answers built into the play where maybe you can call one play 8 to 10 times but it'll look different 7 or 8 out of those 10 times just because of the options and the play.”

New OC Jake Spavital was on his way out when Wilcox was on his way in and now they’re both back to their earlier roots and working together -this time at the same time.

“That’s the first I met Jake (Spavital) but I knew about him from what he has done offensively,” Wilcox said. “I think it helped this time around to have some background of each other. But a reallym really good guy. I’ve heard all of those things along the way and the people that have worked here, not only as a football admin but the type of guy to work with and when that many people say it, it’s true. It's been that way (since he was hired). He’s really an easy guy to get to know and to chat with. He has a really sharp football mind and the way he can see things. He is really humble, hard-working guy and it's exciting for us as you can tell.

“He’s a really knowledgeable guy. He’s a good teacher. People gravitate towards him, people and players alike. But philosophically, he has a strong background and he has learned under some great coaches. He’s evolved on his own to build offenses with the players available to him. I wouldn’t say any of the two offenses that he has coached looked alike because the players change, and I think he has done a really really good job. And now being around him and the other coaches, you see why they have been so successful in their past.”

Another big change on the Bears’ offensive side of the ball will be speedy and athletic new presumptive starting QB Sam Jackson, redshirt soph portal transfer from TCU, who brings a gaudy 100% completion percentage with him from Texas, though admittedly only on six passes so far.

“During the workouts, he’s a very very athletic guy,” Wilcox noted. “Quick twitch, so he’s eager as are we to get on the field and start playing.”

What are some of the things that have stood out about the new Bears signal caller?

“His athletic ability,” Wilcox said. “He’s a sharp kid, too, you can tell. He’s brand new. He hasn’t been here that long but he’s learning his way around. He is a very talented athlete, no doubt about that and he’s a sharp kid.”

Jackson will likely have some additional competition in the fall if the staff is able to make a quality addition at QB.

“We’ll see,” Wilcox said. “I would say it’s likely that we add a quarterback and we’ll evaluate everything moving forward but at that position, I think it's fair based on the numbers.”

The addition of a speedy QB who’s a threat to break off long runs at any time will force defenses to account for another offensive threat beyond throwing the ball and that can often wreak havoc on defensive game-planning.

“It's math,” Wilcox noted. “The defense is going to account for the quarterback in the run game. You start running out of people in the coverages you can play. So, when the quarterback is not a running threat you have more bodies available to support the coverage. All it is, is math. 

The Bears made a large number of portal additions in the early and late signing periods for the ‘23 class but expect more additions and subtractions during May’s portal window opening after spring ball has concluded across the country.

“With the way college football is now and the transfer portal, there are still some changes we will see as well as additions,” Wilcox noted. “That’s just how it works now. So, I would expect us to add some more players between spring ball getting into summer. Now, what that number is I couldn’t quite tell you because there’s a lot of decisions people can make. But we feel good about the players we have on our team right now and we have a little bit of room and that’s a dynamic number. Things are moving constantly. We feel good about the players on the team. Like I said, there are likely to be some additions in the summer.”

In this new era of portal transfers, roster management is a much different game than it was just six years ago when Wilcox started at Cal. No longer are there big portions of teams’ rosters with players who play sparingly or only on special teams who stick around five years before moving on. Now it’s all about productivity, positional need and playing time opportunity for players making a decision whether they should stick around or move on -with or without the guidance of the coaching staff in making that decision.

“Well our job as coaches is to be able to assess the roster to do what’s best for the position, the unit, and the team so we can win and give us the best chance (to win),” Wilcox said. “As we evaluate the roster this spring with the new players, the guys returning off injury and we’ll determine that.

“I think we have some good players on defense. Better in certain areas, no doubt about that. We’ll be healthier in others. But there will also be some really talented teams we will be competing with this fall. So we know playing in this conference we get those offenses that are very challenging. But much will be determined through spring ball and as we get into summer and fall camp we'd like to be 100% healthy all the time but that’s not the way it works.”

The defense was not able to play aggressively last season as perhaps the staff would’ve preferred with so many first and second-team defensive linemen out and a young cornerback and nickel depth chart but the hope is that this season with so many starters and primary backups returning on the DL and an injection of three talented vets in the defensive backfield, maybe the defense can turn up the heat this season.

“Yeah I think we will see,” Wilcox said. “We got hopes for those guys. We brought in the newcomers for a reason and we think the guys coming off injury will help us improve but we have got to get better on defense, there’s no doubt about it. There were moments we played good football last year and there were others that we didn’t play quite as well, we thought we could have. I think every position can be a part of the solution.”

The defensive aggressiveness may have to wait as this spring will see several of their biggest DL contributors on the sidelines, still on the mend, along with a small handful of offensive players.

“The list right now of the guys that will be out for spring are Akili Calhoun, Xavier Carlton, Tommy Christakos, Collin Gamble, Brett Johnson, Darius Long Jr., Mason Mangum, Tyson McWilliams, Jaedon Roberts, and Mason Starling,” noted Wilcox. “Those are the guys that will not participate in spring football. Everybody else will be in fall to some degree

Bottom line, what can Cal fans expect to see from the offense this season?

“It’ll be sped up and spread out,” Wilcox said. “We’ll place a large emphasis on the run game but some of the formations may look a little different. The run schemes will be a little different than what they have seen. But I do think the use and the threat of tempo and some of the spacing will look a little new.”

Discussion from...

Wilcox Fields Questions as Spring Ball Set to Kick Off

3,310 Views | 25 Replies | Last: 14 days ago by drizzlybear
edwinbear
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I counted at least three "no doubt about it/that" 's. Gives me late Cal career Tedford vibes.
GoOskie
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All I have to say about this is......




GO BEARS!!!!!!!
bearsandgiants
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Nobody asked about the entire defensive line being unable to practice?
PaulCali
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I'm feeling 3 or 4 wins for 2023.
Oakbear
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PaulCali said:

I'm feeling 3 or 4 wins for 2023.
altho I share your pessimism, It really is too early to tell .. if they pick up a couple of good OL (esp OT) and a good backup QB it would look very different ..

as an ancient blue (given up on "old") this time every year my glasses are rosy, then they get very clear as the season progresses ...
Blueblood
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Oakbear said:

PaulCali said:

I'm feeling 3 or 4 wins for 2023.
altho I share your pessimism, It really is too early to tell .. if they pick up a couple of good OL (esp OT) and a good backup QB it would look very different ..

as an ancient blue (given up on "old") this time every year my glasses are rosy, then they get very clear as the season progresses ..
Oh, Oakbear, you should use my cleaning rags that I use for my glasses....they're called Lysol Clean Wipes.

Big C
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PaulCali said:

I'm feeling 3 or 4 wins for 2023.

Twice that, baby! And I'm gonna keep believing it as long as it's mathematically possible.

We're currently undefeated: GO BEARS!
calumnus
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He seems the most interested in the offense that he has been in 7 years, though he seems more like a curious observer but maybe now wanting to learn? I don't remember him talking about sitting in the offensive room in the past.

I can see why Spavital saw this as a good gig to revive his OC cred and maybe get another shot at HC after bombing his 1st at Texas State. He and Wilcox are a good match that way. Both of them need this to work.

My real concern even more now is defense. Wilcox did not sound overly sanguine.
Bobodeluxe
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If the cash doesn't appear to rent some key players, it will be another … season.
Blueblood
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"After Coach Wilcox's comments on
Spring Ball, we were ordered to gather
the bricks in the corporate yard for the
coach's proposed statue to start during the
2023 football season. I know that I'm a
mere yard worker, but I think the Cal admin
should simply build the statue right here
in the corporate yard!"
Pittstop
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I'm flabbergasted that no one thought to ask whether any of the players who are listed as 'out' for spring practice are expected to be available for summer camp, or are any of them considered long term injuries. That seemed like it should have been an automatic question.
Big C
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calumnus said:

He seems the most interested in the offense that he has been in 7 years, though he seems more like a curious observer but maybe now wanting to learn? I don't remember him talking about sitting in the offensive room in the past.

I can see why Spavital saw this as a good gig to revive his OC cred and maybe get another shot at HC after bombing his 1st at Texas State. He and Wilcox are a good match that way. Both of them need this to work.

My real concern even more now is defense. Wilcox did not sound overly sanguine.

Assuming last year's rash of injuries on DL and DB were somewhat of an aberration, I feel like we'll be better. My hunch is that Sirmon wanted to play more aggressively, but felt like he couldn't, with last-line-of-defense guys like Hearns out.
Shocky1
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Pittstop said:

I'm flabbergasted that no one thought to ask whether any of the players who are listed as 'out' for spring practice are expected to be available for summer camp, or are any of them considered long term injuries. That seemed like it should have been an automatic question.
of if the players are graduating from berkeley & moving on...
NVBear78
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bearsandgiants said:

Nobody asked about the entire defensive line being unable to practice?


You are forgetting about Ricky and big Stan
GivemTheAxe
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calumnus said:

He seems the most interested in the offense that he has been in 7 years, though he seems more like a curious observer but maybe now wanting to learn? I don't remember him talking about sitting in the offensive room in the past.

I can see why Spavital saw this as a good gig to revive his OC cred and maybe get another shot at HC after bombing his 1st at Texas State. He and Wilcox are a good match that way. Both of them need this to work.

My real concern even more now is defense. Wilcox did not sound overly sanguine.

A new OC, with very good potential; a new QB untried but with a lot of potential; an untried OL but good OLine coach; a beat up defense but again a lot of potential

I would not expect Wilcox to sound overly sanguine until he sees how they perform the first quarter of the
season.
Might be a bust or might be good to very good.

Lower expectations
heartofthebear
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Pittstop said:

I'm flabbergasted that no one thought to ask whether any of the players who are listed as 'out' for spring practice are expected to be available for summer camp, or are any of them considered long term injuries. That seemed like it should have been an automatic question.
They were probably afraid to ask.
okaydo
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We renamed FTX Fields after Wilcox?
calumnus
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GivemTheAxe said:

calumnus said:

He seems the most interested in the offense that he has been in 7 years, though he seems more like a curious observer but maybe now wanting to learn? I don't remember him talking about sitting in the offensive room in the past.

I can see why Spavital saw this as a good gig to revive his OC cred and maybe get another shot at HC after bombing his 1st at Texas State. He and Wilcox are a good match that way. Both of them need this to work.

My real concern even more now is defense. Wilcox did not sound overly sanguine.

A new OC, with very good potential; a new QB untried but with a lot of potential; an untried OL but good OLine coach; a beat up defense but again a lot of potential

I would not expect Wilcox to sound overly sanguine until he sees how they perform the first quarter of the
season.
Might be a bust or might be good to very good.

Lower expectations


I get that, but he kept his arms folded the whole time, never said anything like "it remains to be seen, but at this point I am excited about our potential." It was just lower energy than even his usual, maybe he doesn't want to be "fake" but it did not get me fired up, it has me a little more worried. Other than after a loss, he is usually a little more chipper.
SmellinRoses
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Wilcox glaze-eyed, low energy reminds of Tedford in his latter years. His body language reads "I'm mailing this in."
PaulCali
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He looks burned out.
Bobodeluxe
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I think the dire NIL situation would deflate any coach on the outside, looking in.
calumnus
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PaulCali said:

He looks burned out.


It just seems that way and is concerning.
Bearly Clad
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I know he mentioned that they're all expected back by fall camp but we have an inordinate amount of injuries every year heading into spring. At this point it's a trend and it's concerning. We can't afford to be short handed because there's just not enough overall talent on this team, especially with transfers out.

I hope someone asks the question even though Wilcox won't answer it. I get that it's his personality but he has to know that based on track record so far it's fair to question him and expect some form of transparency if not contrition. He can't be cagey and dismissive forever when there are serious and legitimate questions surrounding the program. With the new QB and new OC this could very well be the year that everything gets back on track but they haven't earned the benefit of the doubt and right now there's a lot of uncertainty if this is the coaching staff and the roster to get it done.

I'm forever an optimist but not at the expense of realism. I love, support, and believe in our guys but this is a huge make-or-break year for the program
Jeff82
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After last year, I'm done trying to glean anything about the fall from the spring. Whichever side of the ball looks good, there's no way of telling whether that side is actually good, or whether the other side just stinks.

IMHO, the most important thing for this spring is getting the offense installed, including an emphasis on whatever techniques Ploesch can teach the OL so they perform better.
drizzlybear
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Jeff82 said:

After last year, I'm done trying to glean anything about the fall from the spring. Whichever side of the ball looks good, there's no way of telling whether that side is actually good, or whether the other side just stinks.

IMHO, the most important thing for this spring is getting the offense installed, including an emphasis on whatever techniques Ploesch can teach the OL so they perform better.

That's pretty much where I am, too. Although I'm sure I'll get more excited and optimistic as the season nears. I'm kind of hopeless that way.
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