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Cal Football

First Fall Scrimmage Shows Offense Has Some Bite

August 13, 2023
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On a spectacular summer day at Memorial Stadium, the Cal football team donned the pads, welcomed in a full crew of zebras, and tackled to the ground for the first time this Fall.

It was a back-and-forth day with each side of the ball having its moments, though overall this was a better performance from the offense than had been seen previously. Some helpful rules of the road as we jump into this report.

  • Cal mixed and matched 1’s and 2’s for most of the day on both offense and defense so keep that in mind as you reflect on overall outcomes and individual performances.  This is a team sport and one failed tackle or block can make all the difference
  • The stats at these scrimmages can be as misleading as insightful.   Dropped balls, penalties, lineup groupings, etc all have an impact
  • This was the first Fall Camp, so the emphasis was far more on competition and getting the entire team prepared for game-like conditions rather than on optimizing for the likely two deeps execution

Let’s start with the QB competition.  Jackson, Finley, and Mendoza took 100% of the snaps today.  Luke Bottari is no longer part of the competition to start. All three were effective with only a small handful of miscues between the three of them. Each of them had some outstanding plays, though none of them was demonstrably better than the others. The floor for this room is relatively high, the challenge is whether someone can separate themselves and raise the ceiling. For perspective, at the same point last year, Plummer was clearly though not materially ahead of all three in terms of command, confidence, and consistency.

Jackson took the first snaps with the 1’s and produced a TD.  Some highlights of that drive:

  • Steady run game from Ifanse (who took the first snaps at RB)
  • Short passes and some designed runs by Jackson
  • A nice back-shoulder throw to Davis (covered by Hearns)
  • Long TD run by Stredick where he had a huge hole and made Woodie miss
  • Very methodical drive albeit one where tempo was used
  • Tackling was not good by the D (something that improved as the scrimmage went on)

Mendoza took the snaps with the 2’s next and got a first down before punting after a failed 4th and short conversion. Mendoza struggled most of the day with the RPO and QB run game and that was true in this drive.  He had a high throw on 3rd and long that Grizzel made a great catch on.  Patrick McMorris played with the 2’s and made several big plays on this drive, including a big hit in run support and a nice pass breakup.

Finley came in next and led another TD drive.  Highlights:

  • Some solid running by walk-on RB Chapman.  He averaged nearly 10 ypc and ran an 11.1 100M as a Junior.  Much like Stredick and Thomas, he’s limited by his size (maybe 180lbs)
  • Mangum with a nice 15-yard reception
  • BMW had a TFL followed by a near sack where he easily beat Nick Morrow at OT
  • Deep throw to King (the ball was slightly underthrown) before Chapman punched it in on the ground for the TD

Finley stayed in this time with the 1’s and was forced to punt.  Stredick had a nice run with a good jump cut at the LOS.  Finley made a great play after being pressured that Davis would likely have caught if not for PI on Nohl Williams.  Would have liked to have seen Davis make a stronger play on the ball and the PI seemed a bit iffy. Jernigan beat Session for the near sack (though that might have been Session’s only poor snap in pass protection all day). Finley threw a back shoulder pass that Littlejohn slapped out of Anderson’s hands.  Would have liked to have seen Mavin hold onto that ball.  The drive stalled when McCulloch (who has played well at OLB) beat Endries to force an incompletion.  Wilcox made a point of putting his arm around Jack after the missed block to encourage him.

Jackson came with a mixed OL of 2/3s. Solid drive but no score. Jackson (who did not wear a protective QB jersey) had a nice 16-yard run that was punctuated by a big hit from Woodie.  That was one of two times that Jackson was really popped at the end of the run.  Both times he popped right up.  He also had a nice back shoulder throw to Grizzel for 15 yards who had beat Isaiah Young.  The drive stalled out when Jackson made a good pitch to Thomas who would have easily gotten a first down into the red zone but instead fell down without being touched.

Mendoza was next up with the 3’s and earned the offense yet another TD.  Highlights:

  • Two effective WR screens to Mason Starling.  Starling looked good with the YAC
  • A holding penalty on one of those screens against the offense
  • Chapman with a 16-yard run
  • A great step up into the blitz by Mendoza hitting King for a 20+ yard play, okay throw, better catch
  • XP was blocked as the 2nd team FG OL was overwhelmed

The offense then won two red zone drills from the 10-yard line, both concluding in TDs

  • Finley led the first TD with the 1’s. On 3rd and long, a good pass rush forced Finley to run and he broke a tackle to earn the score.  Finley had a very good day with his legs.  He’s noticeably quicker and more effective with his legs than is Mendoza
  • Jackson did the same with the 2’s/3’s.  Finishing with a nice deep corner throw to Grizzell who beat Earby.  Jackson’s legs a factor down close to the end zone

The defense then gained the upper hand forcing three straight punts, followed by two FG attempts. This was prompted by a stiffer run defense and improved tackling.   

Some defensive standouts on the day:

  • Patrick McMorris played a limited number of snaps and shined when he was in
  • Nate Burrell was a force all day, perhaps the most dynamic defensive player.  Lots of TFLs, and good pass rushes as well
  • Muela Iosefa had his best day of camp at ILB, which as a group played very well after a few missed tackles early. Cade Uluave was impressive as well in that room
  • The OLB room was impressive as well, led by Carlton who popped on nearly every snap he played.  Jernigan, Reese, McCulloch, and Big Myles Williams (BMW) also had strong days
  • Curlee Thomas made several plays including a sack and a TFL

The offense bounced back toward the end of the scrimmage. They had three TDs in the final six drives (albeit these were from their own 40/50 yard line and not the full length of the field drives we saw earlier).  Some highlights:

  • Jackson to Starling for 35+ yards (near TD) when Mason badly beats CB Marcus Scott
  • Mendoza to Plummer for 25+ yards on a slant where Plummer beats Earby
  • Mendoza with terrible read and throw that Moore drops for what should have been an easy interception
  • Stredick with 30 yard burst up the middle
  • Mendoza to Mason Mangum for a beautiful TD on a post pattern (beating Hearns and M. Williams)
  • Moore with a near pick of Jackson on a quick throw to the WR (In Jackson’s defense, the snap was low forcing the throw to be a tad late giving Moore a chance after he jumped the route)
  • Ricky Correia and Cade Uluave with sacks; Uluave beating Tine on a blitz
  • BMW (Myles Williams) with a sack, beating B. Miller who was playing RT
  • A good scramble by Finley who finds Plummer for 12 (would have been more but Plummer put his knee down inadvertently)
  • Finley steps up in the pocket and then takes off for 20+ yards, flashing very good speed
  • Good pass rushes by McCulloch and Jalloh forced incompletions
  • Jackson with a Houdini-like escape found Chapman for 5 yards
  • Solid power running by Alfieri including two TD runs

injuries:

Monroe Young sat out with what appeared to be a minor upper-body injury.   Sergio Allen sat out again though he appeared to be moving well.  Justin Williams-Thomas was out again and at this point, one has to wonder whether he will be ready for the season opener, especially given his having missed the Spring.  Jaedon Roberts has returned to the DL but he’s out with what appears to be an injury that could have him sidelined for at least a week or two.  Darius Long continues to be out and he would seem to fall into the camp of JWT in terms of not appearing to be close to returning.  Ieremia Ieremia is out and likely will be for some time.  Freshman OLB Tuietele was also out

Limited Action:

Brett Johnson and Jaydn Ott were in pads, did all the drill work and were clearly held out purely for precautionary reasons.  Ethan Saunders did play though his snaps were limited as were Jackson Sirmons, Nohl Williams, and Jeremiah Hunters.  

Special Teams:

Lachlan Wilson had a strong day punting the ball.  He wasn’t perfectly consistent with one in four punts some version of a side-of-the-foot affair, though none of those failed to roll out to less than 40 yards and only one was of the easily returnable variety.  Otherwise, he was hitting booming kicks with a lot of hang time, between 45-55 yards in the air.  

Michael Luckhurst was close to perfect on the day both in special FG practice sessions as well as in the flow of the scrimmage.  He hit a 50-yarder into the wind and then barely missed a 49-yarder into that same wind.   Interestingly, he was not doing the KOs as those duties were picked up by Freshman Mateen Bhaghani.  During live Kickoffs, he hit one to the one-yard line and the other 8 yards deep with good height.

Jeremiah Hunter did most of the punt returning with Kendan Robinson taking over with the 2’s

Unofficial Scrimmage Stats (August 13, 2023 – California Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA)

Scoring

Ashton Stredick 37 TD run (Michael Luckhurst kick good) … 10-play, 75-yard drive Dean-Taylor Champman 1 TD run (Michael Luckhurst kick good) … 9-play, 75-yard drive Ben Finley 8 TD run (Michael Luckhurst kick good) … 3-play, 10-yard drive Sam Jackson V 7 TD pass to Trond Grizzell (Michael Luckhurst PAT good) … 3-play, 10-yard drive Michael Luckhurst 50 FG … 3-play, 6-yard drive Andy Alfieri 2 TD run (no PAT attempt) … 3-play, 25-yard drive Fernando Mendoza 25 TD pass to Mason Mangum … 5-play, 50-yard drive Andy Alfieri 7 TD run (no PAT attempt) … 10-play, 70-yard drive

Penalties (No-Yds)

Offense (5-31)

Defense (4-35)

Total (9-66)

Fumbles (No-Lost) None

Individual Rushing (Att-Yds, TD)

Ashton Stredick (5-70, 1 TD) Dean-Taylor Chapman (15-53, 1 TD) Jaivian Thomas (13-49) Andy Alfieri (4-20, 2 TD) Ben Finley (4-15, 1 TD) Isaiah Ifanse (4-15) Sam Jackson V (3-29) Fernando Mendoza (3-(-4)) Total (51-247, 5 TD)

Individual Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Yds, TD) Fernando Mendoza (14-19-0-168, 1 TD) Sam Jackson V (11-16-0-98, 1 TD) Ben Finley (6-15-0-61) Total (31-50-0-327, 2 TD)

Receiving (No-Yds, TD)

Jordan King (4-77) Mason Starling (3-46) Trond Grizzell (3-43, TD) Jack Endries (3-3) Mavin Anderson (2-29) Grant Daley (2-28) Taj Davis (2-17) Brian Hightower (2-14) Marquis Montgomery (2-13) Mason Mangum (1-25, TD) Jaiven Plummer (1-19) Dean-Taylor Chapman (1-5) Isaiah Ifanse (1-4) Kenden Robinson Jr. (1-2) Jaivian Thomas (1-1) Ashton Stredick (1-1) Ben Marshall (1-0) Total (31-327, 2 TD)

Field Goals (FGM-FGA – Distance Result) Michael Luckhurst (1-3 – 21 miss/blocked, 50 good, 49 missed) Total (1-3 – 21 miss/blocked, 50 good, 49 missed) *Sai Vadrawale had the blocked field goal

PAT (Made-Att) Michael Luckhurst (5-5) Total (5-5)

Punting (No-Yds-Avg.) Lachlan Wilson (4-171, 42.8) *Lachan Wilson had three punts for 139 and a 46.3 yards per punt average during a punting period *Thomas Lee had four punts for 151 yards and a 37.8 yards per punt average during a punting period

Defense (Tackles; Other Plays)

Patrick McMorris (7; 1 TFL, -6 yards; 1 SACK, -6 yards) Tyson McWilliams (6, 1 PBU) Curlee Thomas IV (6; 1 TFL, -4 yards; 1 SACK, -4 yards) Cade Uluave (6, 1 TFL, -2 yards; 1 QBH) Matthew Littlejohn (4, 1 PBU) Lu-Magia Hearns III (4) Hunter Barth (4; 1 TFL, -2 yards) Jeremiah Earby (3; 0.5 TFL, 0 yards) Kaylin Moore (3; 0.5 TFL, -1 yard; 1 PBU) Ethan Saunders (3, 1 PBU) Myles Williams (3, 1.0 TFL, -1 yard) Sai Vadrawale (3, 1 Blocked FG) Kaleb Elarms-Orr (3) Muelu Iosefa (3) Nate Rutchena (3) Raymond Woodie III (3) Nate Burrell (3, 2 TFL, -7 yards; 1 SACK, -5 yards) Ricky Correia (2, 1 TFL, -4 yards; 1.0 SACK, -4 yards) David Reese (2, 1 TFL, -5 yards; 1 SACK, -5 yards, 1 PBU) Blake Antzoulatos (2) Zurich Ashford (2) Mayze Bryant (2) Ethan Saunders (2) Julian Womack (2) Tiumalu Afalava (1) Xavier Carlton (1) Tidiane Jalloh (1) BJ Jones (1) Ryan McCullough (1) Marcus Scott III (1) R.J. Stephens (1) Derek Wilkins (1) Miles Williams (1) Craig Woodson (1) Isaiah Young (1) Myles Jernigan (1 QBH) Total (92, 10 TFL, -32 yards;

5 SACKS, -24 yards; 5 PBU; 2 QBH, 1 Blocked FG)

Discussion from...

First Fall Scrimmage Shows Offense Has Some Bite

4,781 Views | 9 Replies | Last: 11 mo ago by sluggo
CNHTH
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What's the story with Brett Johnson?
heartofthebear
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I suppose BMW is #92 otherwise I have no clue.
Big Myles Williams?
BearGreg
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Staff
heartofthebear said:

I suppose BMW is #92 otherwise I have no clue.
Big Myles Williams?
Correct
bluehenbear
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" punting after a failed 4th and short conversion"

Say what now?
Rushinbear
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little mention of the OL thus far. Any assessment that can be shared? Especially LOT. That slot is critical and has gotten ho hum attention. I don't get it. The last guy there was athletic, but didn't appear to have the power. This guy the same and no one asks why? And, is it too soon to ask about the transfer at LOG?
BearGreg
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Rushinbear said:

little mention of the OL thus far. Any assessment that can be shared? Especially LOT. That slot is critical and has gotten ho hum attention. I don't get it. The last guy there was athletic, but didn't appear to have the power. This guy the same and no one asks why? And, is it too soon to ask about the transfer at LOG?
Analysis of the Offensive position groups is here. (Premium)
BearGreg
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bluehenbear said:

" punting after a failed 4th and short conversion"

Say what now?
They do all kinds of things in scrimmage to get reps in with special teams, etc that do not follow how a game works. It's a practice.
Bearly Clad
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My biggest questions for this team (probably won't be answered in camp) are the CBs and the OL. The CBs brought in some good transfer talent but also play a lot of good WRs, in the end it probably comes down to two players Earby and Hearns. Hearns had a great freshman year and then took a step back last year, can he get back on track or was he a one-year wonder? Earby is similar in that he had a really good season but we need him to build on that to really make noise in a conference where we'll be seeing a lot of 4 & 5 WR sets, depth is a must. The additions of Williams, Scott, and Moore are important but we really need Earby to develop into a lockdown CB1.

The OL is self-explanatory, they were our biggest weakness last year and even though they're improved we still need them to hold up against some dangerous front-7 players. With improved coaching they should be more than the sum of their parts this year but we need guys who can win 1on1 matchups too. Vatikani, Cindric, and Miller should be a good interior (I'm assuming transfer Barrett Miller fills one of the guard spots) but our tackles are still a huge question mark. Rohme is serviceable but needs to improve and who will take over on the other side? Will Morrow, Johnson, or Ramsey surprise and step up? Will Sessions take a step forward? Or will we have an unexpected standout surprise everyone and run away with one of the 5 OL spots?

Our season probably hinges disproportionately on how those two position groups come together, especially since our offensive skill positions, Safeties, LBs, and DL all have more proven players
sluggo
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Bearly Clad said:

My biggest questions for this team (probably won't be answered in camp) are the CBs and the OL. The CBs brought in some good transfer talent but also play a lot of good WRs, in the end it probably comes down to two players Earby and Hearns. Hearns had a great freshman year and then took a step back last year, can he get back on track or was he a one-year wonder? Earby is similar in that he had a really good season but we need him to build on that to really make noise in a conference where we'll be seeing a lot of 4 & 5 WR sets, depth is a must. The additions of Williams, Scott, and Moore are important but we really need Earby to develop into a lockdown CB1.

The OL is self-explanatory, they were our biggest weakness last year and even though they're improved we still need them to hold up against some dangerous front-7 players. With improved coaching they should be more than the sum of their parts this year but we need guys who can win 1on1 matchups too. Vatikani, Cindric, and Miller should be a good interior (I'm assuming transfer Barrett Miller fills one of the guard spots) but our tackles are still a huge question mark. Rohme is serviceable but needs to improve and who will take over on the other side? Will Morrow, Johnson, or Ramsey surprise and step up? Will Sessions take a step forward? Or will we have an unexpected standout surprise everyone and run away with one of the 5 OL spots?

Our season probably hinges disproportionately on how those two position groups come together, especially since our offensive skill positions, Safeties, LBs, and DL all have more proven players
I think Nohl Williams is the lockdown CB1. At practice on Saturday he was right in Hunter's face. Hearns looked fine as another presumably starting corner. I guess Earby was there, but I did not notice him.
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