Justin Wilcox previews the new-look Cal spring football offense: Spread, speed, space
Justin Wilcox chatted with the media and previewed what the California Golden Bears will look like on offense in 2023.
California Golden Bears head coach Justin Wilcox gave his first press conference since National Signing Day a month ago as spring practice gets ready.
Wilcox confirmed all transfers (QB Sam Jackson, running backs Byron Cardwell and Justin Williams-Thomas, WR Brian Hightower, linebackers David Reese and Sergio Allen, tight ends Asher Alberding and JT Byrne, defensive backs Kaylin Moore, Nohl Williams, Matthew Littlejohn, punter Lachlan Wilson) are available this spring.
Additionally, Wilcox confirmed these players are out for the spring.
Defensive end Akili Calhoun
Outside linebacker Xavier Carlton
Wide receiver Tommy Christakos
Nickelback Collin Gamble
Defensive lineman Brett Johnson
Defensive lineman Darius Long
Wide receiver Mason Mangum
Cornerback Tyson McWilliams
Defensive end Jaedon McRoberts
Wide receiver Mason Starling
Here are some of the questions he answered, condensed for easier reading. Most of the questions focused on offense.
On what the new Cal offense will look like
It will be significantly different than what we've done in the past. [Offensive coordinator Jake [Spavital]'s a really good coach, as is Coach [Mike] Bloesch and Tim Plough. Systematically, you can see why those guys have been so successful.
There's still a lot to be determined based on our roster and learning our strengths, but it's been real enjoyable sitting in there with those guys and going through the details of installation and what it will look like.
On the new offensive style
It will be sped up and spread out. Some of the formations may look a little different, some of the run schemes would be a little bit different than they'd seen, but I do think the use and/or threat of tempo and some of the spacing will look a little new.
There's good reasons creating space for your players, creating angles and numbers in the run game, whether you are or aren't using the quarterback as a run threat that changes everything, as we know. So I think having options and having answers built into the play. Maybe you could call one certain play eight or 10 times in a game, and it's going to look different seven or eight out of those ten times just because of the options within the play.
On working with Spavital
That's the first I had met Jake. Really good guy -- really, really good guy. I'd heard all those things along the way. He's really a easy guy to be part of the staff and get to know and chat with, really sharp football mind how he sees things. Real humble, hard-working guy, you can tell. It's exciting for us and the team.
Philosophically, he's got a strong background in where he comes from, he's learned under some great coaches and then evolved on his own to build offenses with the players available to him. I wouldn't say any two offenses that he's coached have looked alike because the players change.
On new transfer quarterback Sam Jackson, and his potential as a running QB
During the workouts, he's a very, very athletic guy, quick twitch. He's a real sharp kid, too. You can tell. Pretty quiet, he's brand new, he hasn't been here that long, so kind of learning his way around. But I think he's a very talented athlete.
If the defense is going to account for the quarterback in the run game, you start running out of people and the coverages you can play. When the quarterback's not a running threat, you have more bodies available to support the coverage. So all it is is math.
On future roster changes
I would expect us to add some more players post spring ball as we get into summer. What that number is, I couldn't quite tell you, just because there's a lot of decisions that people make. We feel good about the players on our team right now. We do have a little bit of room, and that's a dynamic number.
On adding another quarterback
I would say it's likely that we would add a quarterback, but again we'll evaluate everything moving forward at that position. That's fair to say, just based on the numbers.
If you haven't go and watch the Youtube videos of Ott and Cardwell. Ott makes really clear that he is a Fing BEAR! Blew off any interest from other schools. And Cardwell is such a thoughtful young man, about his demons and his happiness at being at Cal. Those two and other new guy from Tennessee might make up the most talented combos we have had since the Lynch/Forsett or Best/Vereen days. I'm fired up about the potential of this backfield. If the new Oline coach can get mediocre play out of the line, then Sam Jackson and these backs may light up the field with big plays.
Sounds like a Spavital offense, even if it's not the Bear Raid. We probably would have had a few more wins if our offense was just competent enough to give our defense some rest.