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After First Week No Surprises But Some Good Impressions

August 10, 2018
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The Bears staged their seventh practice of fall camp Friday morning, and the only conclusion Justin Wilcox is willing to draw is that the team is in better shape than it was a week ago. He said that teaching and putting in the offense and defense took the bulk of the time. Personnel decisions will come later.

“We are in the first stages of installation,” he said after Friday’s workout. “There is so much mixing and matching right now, with who’s going with who. Now it’s a matter of getting them the right amount of opportunities to get on tape and be coached. We have first big personnel meeting. Sunday. We’re not ready to release the depth chart yet.”

Even given the informality of most of the early work, some elements have come into focus.

Depth at running back, an issue in the spring, should not be a problem. Starter Patrick Laird was held out of contact drills with a minor injury until Friday, and in his absence the other RBs were given opportunities. They seemed to take full advantage.

Derrick Clark, Alex Netherda and Biaggio Ali Walsh, all of whom were around last year, have profited from their experience. “I’m excited about it,” offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin said of the position. “They are just a year older. I know we lost a couple of seniors off last year’s team. But the starter (Laird) is back, he’s year older got.  Netherda’s back, he’s a camp older. Biaggio is a year older. DC (Clark) is a year older Two freshmen backs (Johnny Adams and Chris Brown) show the mental and physical tools to play right away. (JC transfer) Marcel Dancy has looked good.”

Adams with his speed and Brown with his power will be an especially good addition. The new redshirt rule (four games) will give the staff a chance to test them in games before a decision needs to be made on whether to burn a season of eligibility.

The wide receiver spot also opened the door of opportunity to backups because of notable absences. Vic Wharton III, last year’s leading receiver, missed the spring and much of the fall camp dealing with personal issues. He was on the field Friday but did not go in the team drills. Kanawai Noa has also been limited because of an injury. When the departures of Demetrius Robertson, Melquise Stovall and Taariq Johnson are factored in, that makes for a lot of empty space.

The one who seems to be taking the most advantage is junior Jordan Duncan. Baldwin marveled a the leap in improvement.

“Huge,” said Baldwin. “One of the biggest on offense, if not the biggest. You see it with his body, with his frame. He’s added more speed and quickness.”

Brandon Singleton, Jeremiah Hawkins, grad transfer Mo Ways and freshman Nikko Remigio all have had their moments when given the chance. Remigio can be particularly elusive and might be hard to keep off the field, even when Wharton and Noa are up to full speed.

The way everyone talks about the improvement in Ross Bowers, it becomes more apparent that he will the starting quarterback again.

“Ross, he’s done a much better job,” Wilcox said. “He’s growing as a player and a person. I’m excited for him. He still can get a lot better. You like to see that. He definitely grown a lot in the last year.”

Baldwin has been impressed with the performance in the red-zone drills. The success rate is not 100 per cent, but he sees other factors that he regards as equally important. “Everyone (every team) does them. It’s not like we’re different,” he said of the sessions that usually are toward the end of practice when the ice tubs in the north tunnel start to look inviting. “It’s what your focus like when you are doing them. Is it better than your opponent. You want to feel you’re in the red zone against (first opponent) North Carolina right now, not, ‘Is practice over in 15 minutes?’ If it feels like that, you are just kind of running in place. But instead you are truly focusing you are in the moment…. They really took the mindset on both sides of the ball, They cared about getting in the end zone or getting a stop.”

Speaking of getting stops the defensive unit seems to be functioning fairly smoothly for this early in the football year. The only negatives might be the occasional receivers getting open on botched coverage assignments. Other than that the unit looks pretty good.

“I think the first week has gone really well,” said veteran inside linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk. “I think we are picking it up very fast. We’ve got a lot of new faces in there doing a really great job. I’m really excited for the group. And I’m really excited where we’re headed.

“We’ve got great leaders in the coaches and great leaders on the field.”

Individually, defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said after the spring that outside linebacker Cameron Goode was the most consistent performer on defense and added that he has picked up where he left off in April.

 “He has got a really wide tool box. He can rush, he can cover and he really has a great understanding of the defense,” DeRuyter said. “So he’s able to disguise and move around. I am really excited about what he is going to provide for our defense. He does a great job of leading those younger guys.”

Kunaszyk gave Goode one of the ultimate football compliments. “Cam Goode is a baller,” Kunaszykk said. “He’s very fast, he’s very instinctive and we’re very fortunate to have him.”

DeRuyter also had good words for the rest of his outside backers, including Deon White, Joseph Ogunbanjo and, of course, Alex Funches.

The young cornerbacks, Elijah Hicks and Camryn Bynum also had good first weeks. “Those two guys are really competing right now,” he said. “They have a lot of experience and they’re sophomores.”

While he does not want to leave them isolated on receivers on a full-time basis, he said DeRuyter said he feels confident enough to do it fairly often.

“When those two guys (the corners) can cover one-on-one, it frees up the other nine guys,” DeRuyter said. That gives him the ability to be creative with his pass rush and his run defense, giving the opposing quarterback some confusing looks.

The kickers don’t get much time in the stadium, doing the bulk of their work on nearby Maxwell Field. But when it gets to “center court” the placekicking has seemed a tad inconsistent. Wilcox said the competition among Gabe Siemieniec, Chris Landgrebe. JC transfer Greg Thomas  and freshman Dario Longhetto is ongoing.

Steven Coutts is unquestionably the punter and showed off his leg with a boomer that traveled well over 50 yards from scrimmage Friday.

Discussion from...

After First Week No Surprises But Some Good Impressions

BearGreg
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Staff
Any thoughts/questions on camp thus far?
kad02002
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Great article, thank you!
golden sloth
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BearGreg said:

Any thoughts/questions on camp thus far?
Why is Wilcox talking like Yoda?

Quote:


he's year older got
golden sloth
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Is there a lot of movement or experimentation on the offensive line or does it seem like the projected starters will remain?
MoragaBear
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Staff
I think Saffell will replace Daltoso on the right and Daltoso could replace Bennett on the left at OG. Otherwise the same.

With another year in the system and a lot of experience plus much better health for a couple guys that really had to fight through injuries, OL should be a pretty solid group this season.
kad02002
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How are things looking schematically on offense? Is there an actual push towards a high percentage of "non spread" alignments? I know the war cry has been that this thing is "multiple" despite it looking pretty vanilla spread last season (which I understood given the inherited personnel), but I'm wondering what it looks like they are hanging their hat on this year.
MoragaBear
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Staff
There wasn't much choice last season. This season, we'll also see a lot of power formations and other variety and truly be a multiple offense with a lot of different looks.
calumnus
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kad02002 said:

How are things looking schematically on offense? Is there an actual push towards a high percentage of "non spread" alignments? I know the war cry has been that this thing is "multiple" despite it looking pretty vanilla spread last season (which I understood given the inherited personnel), but I'm wondering what it looks like they are hanging their hat on this year.


I am really curious about this too. Sounds like we are playing the TEs, if only out of necessity.

Having Laird, Wharton and Noa out is scary, but a good opportunity for others to step up.
MoragaBear
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Staff
It's not out of necessity. The TE position is now deep. The return of Hudson, the transfer of Bunting, the added weight and strength of Reinwald and the addition of McCastles has made the unit a strength.

At receiver, Hawkins has been great and looks like a real weapon. Remigio will play early and has been a nice addition. Duncan's made a big leap in spring and fall camp. Michigan transfer Moe Ways has been a big, physical and reliable target. Singleton and Bankhead are back from injury. Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good. Add in Noa and Wharton, who will be ready for the season, and the WR corps are solid, too, especially when they won't have to run so many 3 and 4 receiver sets all the time.
kad02002
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MoragaBear said:

It's not out of necessity. The TE position is now deep. The return of Hudson, the transfer of Bunting, the added weight and strength of Reinwald and the addition of McCastles has made the unit a strength.

At receiver, Hawkins has been great and looks like a real weapon. Remigio will play early and has been a nice addition. Duncan's made a big leap in spring and fall camp. Michigan transfer Moe Ways has been a big, physical and reliable target. Singleton and Bankhead are back from injury. Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good. Add in Noa and Wharton, who will be ready for the season, and the WR corps are solid, too, especially when they won't have to run so many 3 and 4 receiver sets all the time.


Great, thank you for the info!
SanseiBear
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MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.
MoragaBear
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Staff
Endo's a great story. He was working in the video department with Cal football before walking on. He had a nice long td catch in yesterday's full contact 11 on 11's, too.

https://calbears.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=13295
Big C
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What's his football background? (I didn't get anything, when I clicked on "bio", in the link.)
MoragaBear
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Staff
He played at Nihon University High School and DeAnza JC.

Here are some JC and HS highlights:

kad02002
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Speaking of, it seems like there has always been a strong Nigerian influence on the team - how is that going and is the tradition ever relied upon on in recruiting (or has it always just been "chance" based on being a top academic university?)?
calumnus
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SanseiBear said:

MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.


Last year, when we still had Drew Kobayashi from St. Louis. You must have blocked it out when he transferred to WSU :-/

Back in the 80's my next door neighbor in the dorms was Don Bartley, a Cal offensive lineman of Japanese and African-American decent. He was fluent in Japanese and after graduating with a masters moved to Japan to teach English and coach football.
SanseiBear
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calumnus said:



Last year, when we still had Drew Kobayashi from St. Louis. You must have blocked it out when he transferred to WSU :-/

Back in the 80's my next door neighbor in the dorms was Don Bartley, a Cal offensive lineman of Japanese and African-American decent. He was fluent in Japanese and after graduating with a masters moved to Japan to teach English and coach football.
I forgot about Drew!
calumnus
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kad02002 said:

Speaking of, it seems like there has always been a strong Nigerian influence on the team - how is that going and is the tradition ever relied upon on in recruiting (or has it always just been "chance" based on being a top academic university?)?


It appears we have 4 players:
Chigozie Anusiem and Chibuzo Nwokocha at CB, Joseph Ogunbanjo at LB and Chinedu Udeogu at DE.

We have 5 Polynesian players: Kanawai Noa (Hawaiian from Hawaii) Lone Toailoa (Samoan from New Zealsnd), Semisi Uluave (Samoan from Hawaii), Poutasi Poutasi (Samoan from Nevada) and Siulagisipai Fuimaono (Samoan from Okinawa, Japan).
calumnus
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SanseiBear said:

calumnus said:



Last year, when we still had Drew Kobayashi from St. Louis. You must have blocked it out when he transferred to WSU :-/

Back in the 80's my next door neighbor in the dorms was Don Bartley, a Cal offensive lineman of Japanese and African-American decent. He was fluent in Japanese and after graduating with a masters moved to Japan to teach English and coach football.
I forgot about Drew!


Yeah, too close? Also, we recruited Siulagisipai Fuimaono out of Okinawa so kinda, but that is two players FROM Japan, which has to be a record.
Barttoriv74
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calumnus said:

SanseiBear said:

MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.


Last year, when we still had Drew Kobayashi from St. Louis. You must have blocked it out when he transferred to WSU :-/

Back in the 80's my next door neighbor in the dorms was Don Bartley, a Cal offensive lineman of Japanese and African-American decent.

Was he a walk-on that was in the roster for only a year?
calumnus
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Barttoriv74 said:

calumnus said:

SanseiBear said:

MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.


Last year, when we still had Drew Kobayashi from St. Louis. You must have blocked it out when he transferred to WSU :-/

Back in the 80's my next door neighbor in the dorms was Don Bartley, a Cal offensive lineman of Japanese and African-American decent.

Was he a walk-on that was in the roster for only a year?


Drew Kobayashi was the star WR for Hawaii State Champion St. Louis. Generally the 4th highest rated player at any position in Hawaii his year (class of 2016). He had good measurables: 6'3", 190 4.5 and we beat out UW, WSC, Navy.... after redshirting his freshman year he transferred to WSU last Spring when we were stocked at WR and it looked like there was no room on the depth chart for him. I think he would be in the mix now if he had stayed.
BearChemist
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SanseiBear said:

MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.
I think the back up PK a few years ago (2? 3?), Beito, is also of Japanese descent.
SFCityBear
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SanseiBear said:

MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.
Dear SanseiBear,

The best player of Japanese descent I've ever seen at Cal was Pete Domoto, both a guard and a linebacker on Cal's last Rose Bowl team. That was back in the days when men were men, and football players all had to go both ways, offense and defense, and play a full 60 minutes of football on the field. Pete played guard on offense, and linebacker on defense in 1957, '58, and '59. In the Rose Bowl year, 1958, Pete Domoto won the Cal team's Brick Muller Award as the team's Most Valuable Lineman.

SFCityBear

Go Bears!
SanseiBear
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SFCityBear said:

SanseiBear said:

MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.
Dear SanseiBear,

The best player of Japanese descent I've ever seen at Cal was Pete Domoto, both a guard and a linebacker on Cal's last Rose Bowl team. That was back in the days when men were men, and football players all had to go both ways, offense and defense, and play a full 60 minutes of football on the field. Pete played guard on offense, and linebacker on defense in 1957, '58, and '59. In the Rose Bowl year, 1958, Pete Domoto won the Cal team's Brick Muller Award as the team's Most Valuable Lineman.

SFCityBear

Go Bears!
Mahalo, SFCityBear! I was at Cal from 1957 to 1962 so I remember Pete well. IIRC, he came to play in the Hula Bowl in Honolulu after his senior year that featured two collegiate all-star teams.
Rushinbear
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Wasn't it said that there would be a camp depth chart decided on Sunday?
OdontoBear66
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SanseiBear said:

SFCityBear said:

SanseiBear said:

MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.
Dear SanseiBear,

The best player of Japanese descent I've ever seen at Cal was Pete Domoto, both a guard and a linebacker on Cal's last Rose Bowl team. That was back in the days when men were men, and football players all had to go both ways, offense and defense, and play a full 60 minutes of football on the field. Pete played guard on offense, and linebacker on defense in 1957, '58, and '59. In the Rose Bowl year, 1958, Pete Domoto won the Cal team's Brick Muller Award as the team's Most Valuable Lineman.

SFCityBear

Go Bears!
Mahalo, SFCityBear! I was at Cal from 1957 to 1962 so I remember Pete well. IIRC, he came to play in the Hula Bowl in Honolulu after his senior year that featured two collegiate all-star teams.
If I am not mistaken he lived in Bowles Hall in his senior year after the Rose Bowl. I recall a complete gentleman, but one helluva a competitor.
MoragaBear
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Staff
Rushinbear said:

Wasn't it said that there would be a camp depth chart decided on Sunday?
No, Wilcox said they'd sit down and talk about the depth and rotation on Sunday, not that they'd put out an immediate depth chart
Rushinbear
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MoragaBear said:

Rushinbear said:

Wasn't it said that there would be a camp depth chart decided on Sunday?
No, Wilcox said they'd sit down and talk about the depth and rotation on Sunday, not that they'd put out an immediate depth chart
I interpreted it that way.
BGGB2
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BearChemist said:

SanseiBear said:

MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.
I think the back up PK a few years ago (2? 3?), Beito, is also of Japanese descent.
Don't think so. Beito is a Norwegian name. Google lists Noah's parents as Bob Beito and Esther Yang. Noah looks Eurasian, so I'd guess his mom is ethnically Chinese.
59bear
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SFCityBear said:

SanseiBear said:

MoragaBear said:

.......Even walk-ons Rockett, Walker, Skinner and Endo have been good..........
Wow, when was the last time Cal had a guy of Japanese descent on the team? The last one I remember was Scott Fujita. I know Scott's white, but to me, he truly represents the best of his adopted culture.
Dear SanseiBear,

The best player of Japanese descent I've ever seen at Cal was Pete Domoto, both a guard and a linebacker on Cal's last Rose Bowl team. That was back in the days when men were men, and football players all had to go both ways, offense and defense, and play a full 60 minutes of football on the field. Pete played guard on offense, and linebacker on defense in 1957, '58, and '59. In the Rose Bowl year, 1958, Pete Domoto won the Cal team's Brick Muller Award as the team's Most Valuable Lineman.

SFCityBear

Go Bears!
Well, not quite 60 minutes although substitution was limited and definitely not 2 platoon or specialist laden. Some teams did have special packages for defense or offense that they inserted for short periods of time, often the last few minutes of a quarter (re-entry was allowed after the change of period). This approach was featured by LSU under Paul Dietzel when his aggressive defensive specialists were called "Chinese Bandits" (taken from an old comic strip, "Terry and the Pirates"). Can you imagine the furore such an appellation would raise in today's more PC environment?
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