Monday's Practice Report

September 4, 2017
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Two days after opening his head coaching career with an upset victory, Cal's Justin Wilcox was pleased but far from satisfied. 

"There was some adversity in every phase of the game," Wilcox said after practice on Monday as the Bears took the field for the first time since their 35-30 victory over North Carolina. "It was far from perfect, we had a lot of teachable moments on the tape today, which was good. Nice to learn those lessons when you win."

And the Bears won for a variety of reasons. Obviously quarterback Ross Bowers, who completed 24 of 38 passes for 363 yards and four touchdowns. But as much as his throwing abilities, Wilcox and the Bears were impressed with Bowers' courage as he took a few hits from the Tar Heels defense. 

"Ross is that kind of guy, he's a competitor," Wilcox said. "You look at the series right before the half when he got hit on the targeting by a big guy, and then he came back on the next play he threw the ball to Vic (Wharton III) and got hit again. He had to step into it. Ross is a tough guy, he's not afraid to step up and throw the ball. He's got that about him. It wasn't that surprising but it was great to see."

Wharton, who caught five of Bowers' passes for 156 yards certainly took notice. "It shows me Ross is really tough," Wharton said. "He was just stepping up in the pocket and not worrying about getting hit. That just shows that we've got a really tough quarterback who's not afraid to stand in there and take some shots while someone's coming open. We know that he is going to make the throw no matter what."

Another Bear making his first start was redshirt freshman Camryn Bynum, who opened at one cornerback. He had seven tackles and a pass breakup. "Cam did a really nice job," Wilcox said. "Since we've been here in spring and fall we've thought a lot of Cam. He's a young player and he's going to get a ton better. I think his mentality throughout the game was solid. Wasn't too big for him by any means. He was calm and collected out there."

Bynum combined with defensive end James Looney on a sack that helped stymie Carolina's second drive. He was coming hell-bent-for-quarterback on a cornerback blitz. "I was excited, that was my first corner blitz in a game ever and it worked pretty well," Bynum said. "We (he and Looney) were both excited, it stopped the drive and that's all that matters."

Cal did pretty well in the punting game with both Steven Coutts and Dylan Klumph having a hand, or rather foot, in it. Coutts, the Austarlian native who is a graduate transfer from Louisiana Lafayette, took the first punt and although it was just 36 yards, it pinned the Tar Heels at their 15-yard line. Klumph handled the other four and averaged 46 yards.

Wilcox said that using both of them was the plan going into the game. "Each guy had a role in the game," Wilcox said. "Steven came in when we were tight down there, a right-footed guy who kicked it left-footed. I'll bet you guys (the media) didn't notice that (he's right). It is a weapon in itsef. And then Dylan did a nice job. He hit a couple. We covered pretty well except for the one (that Carolina returned 17 yards).

Wilcox was pleased with the way his young offensive line operated. "They got better and better, and they will get better this week, next week and the following week," he said. " That's the whole goal, all those guys just battled. I thought in the run game we can do a little better job on movement on our double teams, things like that. On the pass game they did a good job of picking up the movement those guys were giving us. .. Overall pleased with how they fought throughout the game."

Saturday's home game against Weber State will be the Bears first experience with the Pac-12 Conference's experimental rules designed to shorten the time of game. The most noticeable will be reducing the half time from 20 minutes to 15.

I think it will just make it more efficient for everybody," Wilcox said. "All the coaches were in favor of getting in and out of the locker room at half time. We've just got to be really efficient, do what you have to do and get back out."

 

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