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Spring Ball Kicks Off at Memorial

March 8, 2023
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MEMORIAL STADIUM - On a week of rainy forecasts, the clouds parted long enough to allow a cool and sunny day of practice this morning as spring ball kicked off at Memorial.

The new Momentum Turf - a pro grade surface recently installed to replace their aging earlier generation Momentum Turf - looked and felt fantastic and has received strong reviews from the NFL teams that use it. Look for more comments on the surface in days to come.

The day marked the first day of official on-field coaching for new staff additions Jake Spavital, Mike Bloesh and Tim Plough, the Bears’ new OC, OL coach/run game coordinator and tight ends coach.

“Guys are excited to play,” Wilcox said. “It’s great to get the coaches to work with them in this type of environment. Now it’s just a lot of practice.”

The changes on offense are fairly substantial with Spavital’s fast-paced, more wide-open style of play, new blocking schemes and concepts and terminology. Learning them in the film room and playbook or even drills is one thing but putting them into action in 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s will be the next step in the offense’s evolution.

“I think they’re gonna know what to do,” Wilcox said. “It’s just a matter of getting used to the techniques and the schematics that are a little bit different. Then it’s just the repetitions. It’s those patterns where it becomes muscle memory and not something they’re thinking about play by play.”

Particularly on offensive line, the changes in technique emphasis and blocking style will come into play the most, though they won’t be totally starting from scratch.

“I think there’s some carryover from scheme to scheme,” Wilcox noted. “Everyone runs some kind of inside zone or counter. It’s how you run it, what the coaching points are, the technique, the specifics within that play, aiming point -all those things matter.

Today marked the on-field debut of TCU transfer QB Sam Jackson. Though there weren’t many 11-on-11 situations, the Bears’ new signal caller did some nice things, particularly one play were he rolled left and threw a 50-yard strike across his body to TE Jack Endries who made a nice catch in double coverage with safety help. He also looked nimble avoiding pressure and picking up yards with his feet or finding an open receiver while on the move.

“He’s a great athlete,” Wilcox said. “Sharp kid. He just needs reps and practice. The decision-making at his position and other positions - Oline, tight ends, receivers, running backs. You’ve got decisions within these given plays. It’s just not going out there and throwing 1-on-1s. That’s not football. 7-on-7 can be beneficial but we need to play the game. In our offense and defense, we need to get a lot of 11-on-11 and play the game.

“It creates a problem in the run game because of math (having a running QB). You’ve got 11 on both sides and when a quarterback decides to run, it changes the math in the run game. He’s got a live arm and is talented throwing the football but he can really run. 

“The quarterbacks we bring in here, we want to be able to both throw and run. Some guys run a little better than they throw and some guys throw a little better than they run. But our job is to identify the skills of the quarterback and then build the offense to fit them.”

Backup QB Fernando Mendoza also had a solid day, with his best two completions going to talented PWO receiver Jordan King, who had a nice reception at the end of team competition and the duo followed it up with a nice pass and catch to end the practice in a one-on-one team competition. The redshirt frosh QB also had the day’s only interception when he was picked off by veteran ILB Mo Iosefa when he jumped a Mendoza pass.

The run of the day came from portal transfer running back Byron Cardwell. The redshirt soph should good elusiveness and burst, taking a carry to the house for around 50 yards, though it was a non-contact practice.

In addition to the players Wilcox listed as out for spring in Monday’s interview - DEs Akili Calhoun, Xavier Carlton nd Brett Johnson DLs Jaedon Roberts, Darius Long, CBs Collin Gamble and Tyson McWilliams and WRs Tommy Christakos, Mason Mangum and Mason Starling - Wilcox also noted that Tennesse portal transfer running back Justin Williams-Thomas will miss spring and Illinois WR transfer Brian Hightower will miss early spring but is expected to be back in coming weeks. He also added that they don’t expect any of the injured players to miss fall camp or not be available for the 2023 season. Wilcox also noted that returning NT Stanley McKenzie’s transition back to the program after missing a year has been good but that he’d need to continue to work his way back into shape.

With the new faster-paced offensive scheme, the strength and conditioning staff tailored the players’ offseason workouts to better prepare them for this season.

“Absolutely,” Wilcox said. “Conditioning’s always a premium in college football. And with certain styles of play, it’s non-negotiable that you’ve got to be in phenomenal shape. You’ve got to be able to go all day.”

The Bears will be back in action Saturday morning if the weather permits, with rain currently in the forecast.

Related:

Ultimate Insider Podcast E54: New Cal OC Jake Spavital

Wilcox Fields Questions as Spring Ball Set to Kick Off

Cardwell Feeling the Love at Cal

Discussion from...

Spring Ball Kicks Off at Memorial

3,456 Views | 15 Replies | Last: 12 days ago by Cal Strong!
KenBurnski
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Why is Wilcox already in full irritation mode?
Bobodeluxe
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KenBurnski said:

Why is Wilcox already in full irritation mode?
Have you seen his roster?
Econ141
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KenBurnski said:

Why is Wilcox already in full irritation mode?


Even he is tired of his own BS.
KenBurnski
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Super seniors??
Cal Strong!
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KenBurnski said:

Why is Wilcox already in full irritation mode?
Probably due to his weak record of coaching college football teams.
TilWeWobble
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The negativity Re Wilcox is wearing thin; give it a rest. Constant *****ing about the coach at the start of spring practice accomplishes nothing and makes reading this site less enjoyable.
GivemTheAxe
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TilWeWobble said:

The negativity Re Wilcox is wearing thin; give it a rest. Constant *****ing about the coach at the start of spring practice accomplishes nothing and makes reading this site less enjoyable.

Thank you.
I don't object to posters criticizing the coaches, team play and even players.
But it gets a little old especially since there has been a total revamp of the Offense.
If Musgrave were still the OC. I would be one of the loudest critics
Blueblood
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TilWeWobble said:

The negativity Re Wilcox is wearing thin; give it a rest. Constant *****ing about the coach at the start of spring practice accomplishes nothing and makes reading this site less enjoyable.
TilWeWobble, it doesn't appear that Cal football has been too enjoyable over the years for you given that you've only posted 204 times since 2008? That's what, what about 14 posts per year? I mean, how are we
(free boarders) suppose to know we're making your reading "less enjoyable" when most of your limited posting is on the Premium Board? You rich guys are just too much because your hit-n-run posting makes reading posts on this site less enjoyable for me!
bearsandgiants
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Turf looks good! Although with yellow unis it'll be hard to see all of the scoring. Just hoping this "turf" is better than the leg-twisting stuff we seem to have had since 1996.
TilWeWobble
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Blueblood: I've posted 204 times? Wow, way more than I would have guessed. I only post when I think I have something to contribute. Today I posted because it's the start of spring practice, change is afoot (new offensive system) hope springs eternal and we've just been through a nightmare basketball season. Time to find reason for optimism and focus on the positiveā€¦but you be you, I'll be me.
And the shot at "rich guys"? Because we pay $ 99.00/yr to get more Cal sports coverage? Really?
smh
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plus poster of the day september 15th. lottsa good stuff in public handle profiles..
https://bearinsider.com/account/profile/460
muting ~200 handles, turnaround is fair play
Blueblood
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smh said:

plus poster of the day september 15th. lottsa good stuff in public handle profiles..
https://bearinsider.com/account/profile/460

OMG, "poster of the day"!!! Too bad...he's a rich guy; he has paid to keep this fantastic post secret on the Premium Board yet he is willing to express his displeasure freely to us concerning posts that are unenjoyable
to him?
calumnus
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GivemTheAxe said:

TilWeWobble said:

The negativity Re Wilcox is wearing thin; give it a rest. Constant *****ing about the coach at the start of spring practice accomplishes nothing and makes reading this site less enjoyable.

Thank you.
I don't object to posters criticizing the coaches, team play and even players.
But it gets a little old especially since there has been a total revamp of the Offense.
If Musgrave were still the OC. I would be one of the loudest critics


My "criticism" was just the observation that Wilcox seemed tired and less enthusiastic about the team, especially the defense, than even in the past. That has me a little worried.

However, is there any P5 conference school where there would be zero criticism of a coach going into year 7 having finished in the bottom half of the conference every year, with an average team computer ranking over those six years the lowest of any coach in school history? (Yes, lower than Holmoe). There was FAR more criticism of Dykes, Holmoe even Tedford in his last years.

Yes, I am hopeful about the offense. I am pretty sure this will be the best offense Wilcox willjave in his 7 years.
Bobodeluxe
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SVB to sponsor Memorial Field!

Nevermind. SVB bankrupt.
Cal Strong!
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TilWeWobble said:

The negativity Re Wilcox is wearing thin; give it a rest. Constant *****ing about the coach at the start of spring practice accomplishes nothing and makes reading this site less enjoyable.
Nothing we do accomplishes much. It ultimately up to the administration to fix this by firing the wrong people and hiring the right people.

In terms of making your internet experience more full of joy . . . that weak basis for advocating other people only express sentiments with which you agree.

That weak. Cal not weak. Be more like Cal . . less like you.
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