After a day off for rest, the team is starting to ramp up to its first day of full pads tomorrow. For today though? some very interesting battles and flashes from the present and the future. Let’s get to it.
Chase Garbers looks to be given the green light to do some more things in the passing game. In some of the periods, he was more willing to go downfield and throw some risky passes while scrambling. Risky doesn’t mean it was the wrong read though. It would be the open target but just a second slow on the throw or the window shrunk too quickly.
He also had a few moments where he delivered catchable balls to his receivers on the right read and route, but they would just drop sitters that would have been touchdowns in the endzone.
Chase’s reading of the 1st team defense is getting up to game speed now. His decision-making is faster and I’ve also noticed OC Musgrave is a bit more hands-off with Chase than he was last week.
The Backup QB spot is the battle everyone is looking at particularly since the Backup QB at Cal has played significant games since 2018. Zach Johnson seems the most poised to take the spot. His handle and command of the offense is still his strongest attribute 5 days into camp and has a better understanding of the timing of throws in this offense. Kai Millner still showcases the bottomless arm talent he has, but the command of the offense and placement of the ball in the college game is something he is still working towards.
Zach Johnson had the PLAY OF THE DAY, throwing a beauty of a fade to 6-foot-7 TE Keleki Latu in the back of the endzone. Latu’s catch was equally beautiful as the throw, when he secured the ball before going to the ground, despite a defender’s hands right on the ball as he was reeling it in.
Latu flashed big time on Wednesday morning. He still has some work to do to fill out his frame, but he could be the best natural pass-catching tight end in the unit and has the largest catch radius on the team. They did some interesting things with him in certain lineups particularly with Musgrave saying they would use TEs as fullbacks in the offense as well. Very intrigued to see how the TE group shakes out over the next 2.5 weeks.
On the other side, another freshman flashed his ability and made some noise. That player being De La Salle product DB Lu-Magia Hearns. His athletic ability to react and recover was on full display. He would make some mistakes on the positioning or the read of the play, but due to his athleticism, he would make that ground up. He had multiple pass breakups in both 7-on-7s and full-team snaps.
Speaking of DBs, they were the star of the show on Wednesday. Multiple tipped balls. Multiple interceptions. Multiple pass breakups. Chiggy with a tipped ball, intercepted by Craig Woodson. Jaylen Martin with the tipped ball, interception dropped by Raymond Woodie III. Craig Woodson interception by undercutting the route on a scrambling throw. The newly named “Go Team,” aka, the new generation of the Takers was on full display, and boy oh boy is the future bright.
With some OL banged up with little injuries some of the younger guys got the chance to gain some reps and impress. The biggest name being Ben Coleman who continues to impress filling in at Guard the last few practices but getting snaps at Tackle today. He is very impressive and is a player you want to keep an eye on.
The OL group has talent and some depth, but they’ve also struggled to put it all together the last couple of seasons. There is some optimism this season changes that and you have to suspect that they kind of are at a make-or-break type season with this group being so experienced from the injuries the last 2 seasons. How they perform in live situations against this youthful and VERY athletic defensive line is going to be a good barometer heading into September 4th.
It’s a short one today. I expected a full pads practice today, but as it was a ramp-up day, it was a lot more teaching and warming up to contact. Be back tomorrow but I’ll be in the comments for the rest of the day if you have any questions!