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Cal Football

Cal Football Tuesday 8/29 Notebook

August 29, 2023

Amid all the continued chatter regarding the collapse of the Pac-12 and where California will end up once realignment is finished, head football coach Justin Wilcox has been pleased with how well his players have been able to insulate themselves from all of the outside noise.

“All of us are so focused on what’s right in front of us,” Wilcox told reporters Tuesday. “It’s significant, we all realize that. The players get it, we get it, but until there’s something that’s announced we don’t have much control over that. Everybody’s paying attention because of the significance of it but as I’ve said many times these are not discussions that we’re actively asked to be in. Our job is to play great football, so that’s what we’re focused on doing.”

The Golden Bears kick off the season Saturday at North Texas where they’ll debut a new starting quarterback in TCU transfer Sam Jackson V along with about 50 other players who weren’t on the roster a year ago.

Still, the topic of where Cal will eventually end up in terms of a new conference remains up in the air.

The latest reports are that presidents from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) are scheduled to meet soon about expanding and inviting the athletics programs from Cal, Stanford and SMU to join.

But with getting his team prepared to play the upcoming season, Wilcox has tried to keep talk about it to a minimum.

“For us, it’s playing football at the highest level, competing at the highest level, having a plan for success at the highest level,” Wilcox said. “I get the information that’s made public, I don’t get much more than that. So until something is said I don’t need to be spending a lot of emotional capital on it. I’m just waiting until there’s an announcement and then there’s a plan. We’d all be speculating as it sits right now.”

Of more importance at this point for Wilcox and the Bears is prepping for the heat and humidity they’ll be facing when they play the opener this weekend. Forecasts are for near 100-degree weather in Denton, Texas for kickoff.

To help the players prepare for the weather, the Bears held lengthy practices at UC Davis recently.

“We all know it’s going to be hot,” Wilcox said. “Do we practice every day in 100-degree heat? No, we don’t but we’ve played in hot games before and if we do a great job preparing. It should be no excuse from us regarding the weather.”

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital spent four seasons as head coach at Texas State and also spent time as an assistant at Texas A&M, so he is fully aware of what awaits the Bears.

Spavital told the story of how one year while he was coaching in Texas, his director of football operations sat on the sidelines watching while wearing flip-flops. It was so hot that her flip-flops melted on the turf.

“That’s how hot it’s going to be,” Spavital said. “You’re going to have to play a lot of different bodies in all positions, to be honest with you. And we’re ready for that. Just try to keep those guys as fresh as possible because it is a different type of heat.”

Because of the weather, expect the Bears to do a lot of rotating players on and off the field, particularly up front where the big bodies are. Rotations will come throughout the game and possibly even during ongoing drives.

“We’ll kind of feel that out,” defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon said. “It really wouldn’t matter right now, in my opinion, if we’re going to play in 72 degrees or whatever the temperature is going to be. We’ve taken a lot of time and developed a lot of guys with the reps, especially in the front seven. We expect those guys to play a lot. The longer the drive is, obviously the more people you’ll see shuttle through.”

One position that won’t be doing much planned rotating is at quarterback. Jackson beat out Ben Finley and Fernando Mendoza for the starting job during training camp and is ready to take over for the Bears after playing sparingly during his two seasons at TCU.

“Sam’s the guy and we’re going in with the intention of him taking all the snaps,” Spavital said. “He’s a developmental guy. Every day is important for the development and growth of him. He’s just getting more and more comfortable with the gameplan. A lot of that has to do with taking a lot more reps over the last few days.”

All three quarterbacks will be taking the trip to Texas, although Spavital declined to name who will be Jackson’s primary backup and said it would likely be a game-time decision.

Cal finished 4-8 last season and was winless in five games on the road but Wilcox sounded very optimistic about the direction of the program heading into this season.

“Our ceiling’s been raised,” Wilcox said. “I think we have more talent in the program, the competitiveness at certain positions. That’s a good thing because that raises everybody’s level of play.

“We’re gonna have to show significant growth week to week to achieve our goals. The mindset’s there. Appreciate the way guys are working but it’s one thing to do it in practice. Now we got to go out and perform on Saturdays.”

Other stories:

Ultimate Insider Podcast E60: Cal RB Coach Aristotle Thompson: Video & Transcript

Previewing North Texas

Discussion from...

Cal Football Tuesday 8/29 Notebook

3,453 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by CALiforniALUM
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50 new players! Different Cal team for sure.
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How do they deal with the heat on the sidelines? Do they travel with sideline air conditioning devices or shade structures? How about options like towels in cold water, and the requisite hydration options. Do they do IVs at halftime? What is legal to use and what isn't in these circumstances? Is the mythical Stanford glove device a real thing and why we don't have one?
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