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Cal Football

Bear Insider Video: Cal WR Mavin Anderson Ready to Lead the Way

March 13, 2023

It’s a new era for the Cal offense as they took the first steps this last week of moving away from three years of pro-style offense under former OC Bill Musgrave that never quite clicked consistently to a more wide-open brand of ball -something celebrated by Cal’s talented young receiving corps, particularly redshirt soph receiver Mavin Anderson.

“Music to our ears, just kind of weight off our shoulders really,” Anderson said with a smile. “When your offensive coordinator tells you to go out there and just get open, it's just reassuring and confidence-boosting, just letting the game come to you.”

The free-flowing offense style harkens back to Anderson and the other receivers’ formative years where the game was all fun and less structured, where new OC Jake Spavital emphasizes simply getting open and making plays rather than sticking to a structure that often struggled to succeed.

“Playground days, almost high school ball, to be honest, like a little RPO thing,” Anderson said of the new offensive philosophy. “That's what we did in high school, but it's kind of like, alright, you see something you like, go ahead and go for it.”

Anderson’s gotten off to a fast start this spring, making several highlight reel plays in addition to the noted end-around TD Saturday, including a nice 25-yard TD grab today in tight coverage by redshirt frosh corner/nickel back Cam Sidney.

“I feel like the first couple times, it’s reassuring and confidence boosting and everything, but at a certain point, it becomes kind of like the standard. I feel like it's the same way with a lot of guys, too. And I feel like that's what makes it so special is that, yeah, we expect to make these plays like make 'em, make 'em make 'em and it's kind of just like, alright, we gotta keep making them, keep making 'em, it's expected. 

Variations of end-arounds and jet sweeps last season often failed to pick up much in the way of yardage as the blocking just wasn’t there but that was not the case on Saturday, when Anderson took a sweep to the house, weaving his way through several defenders on the way to paydirt.

“It was there this time,” Anderson said. “They blocked that up perfectly.”

Anderson was asked if that was a sign the new blocking scheme perhaps provide a better opportunity for that to become a regular occurrence this season.

“100%, vertical stretch and horizontal stretch every once in a while, it's always good,” Anderson said. “With the misdirection coming off the end-around, like you said tight ends just swooping down and taking out all the guys on the edges. Just a beautiful thing to see. Really makes it easy
for me.

“They're physical. I love those guys. JT (Byrne) Asher (Alberding), Jack Endries, all of them, all the tight ends. Love them.”

So far, the transition’s been smooth with Spavital back in his old office in Memorial and the move has been fairly seamless on both sides.

“It's been great,” Anderson said. “Coach Spav has been real good about staying in touch with everybody about what's going on, on and off the field. Making sure we get in there, watch extra film,and see if we have questions on top of it. But all the guys really click with the offense.”

As the receiving corps gets more acclimated to the offense and sees the success pay off with plays made in practice, their confidence has continued to grow.

“It's super important because for the wide receiver room, all the guys we have in here, we're starting to mature,” Anderson noted. “We're starting to really get that experience under our belts and we're starting to have that confidence and that swagger. I feel like we're a spark for this team and that with this new offense, it provides us a lot of opportunities to go out there and do our thing.”

Somewhere along the way, Anderson has moved from a young receiver seeing his first collegiate catch last season to a more seasoned, battle-tested veteran going into his third season. How does he see his role this season?

“(I’m) a returning veteran, I'll start with that,” Anderson said. “Gotta take more upon my shoulders than last year for sure. A vertical threat, in and out the backfield, cross-motions, all those types of things. It's kinda multi-dimensional I feel like.”

After reshirting his freshman season, Anderson made his mark last season, hauling in 37 catches for 372 yards for a 10.1 ypc average and 3 TDs for the year, leaving him wanting more for the 2023 season.

“It was for sure a confidence boost,” Anderson said. “I needed that personally just to kind of reassure myself like, ‘Yeah, like I'm ready to be here. Like this is my time going forward. And going forward it's just kind of the expectation, so I feel like that's where the bar is and we can't be below that.”

One element the receivers are excited with is the emphasis on the vertical game, pushing the ball downfield at every opportunity.

“That'll be like the backbone,” Anderson said. “I feel like just kind of having that identity that we're gonna get lined up, go fast, go vertical, just run teams out, be in better shape than them. I feel like that's a great thing for us.

Another new look for the Bears is moving from classic dropback passer Jack Plummer to an athletic threat at QB in Sam Jackson who the defense will never quite know what to expect with his playmaking ability and his penchant for throwing on the run.

Sam is special,” Anderson said. “I believe that Fernando's special too. The guys in that room all are great, but Sam's different. You saw out there, the escapability, throwing on the run. And it's not just one thing with him. Like there were doubts, like, okay, maybe he can't throw on the run and stuff like that. but he just put that all to rest, for sure.

“Sam's a funny dude. I like a lot of things about him. He's got good fashion taste, too. It's been interesting because we live together but he’s a great dude.

“He attacks that he attacks the field every day with that mentality. I feel like he comes out with the intention of leading us and kind of doing his thing. So he's got that unmatched swagger and I feel like it'll be great for us.”


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