The Spring Showcase: What did we Learn?
Was there any magic afoot in Strawberry Canyon?
As my colleague Nick Kranz said yesterday, what did we garner from the spring game? False hope? Sure. Definitive answers? Hell no. The story of the spring so far has been a mixed bag from the offense and defense for the California Golden Bears. Is the offense going to be up to standard this year? Is the defense simply that good that it doesn’t matter? Where are the special teams at? Funny enough, the special teams group has been minding their own business throughout this spring, consistently delivering in both punt and field goal situations. Even our leader Avinash has noticed the staunch improvements from the special teams unit over the course of the spring and its culmination at the spring showcase(Oh hello now...).
Battles, Battles, Battles
Quarterback has been a main concern for Golden Bears fans ever since the departure of Chase Garbers. Could someone replace his clutch gene? Is the next quarterback going to be more mechanically sound and possess a bigger arm? Can they lead Cal back to the promised land? What the spring showcase showed us that there is a small but very noticeable gap between Jack Plummer and Kai Millner. Plummer was consistent throughout most of spring, providing solid poise and execution when called upon. Like many here and online like to say, Kai Millner possess a higher ceiling than any of the other quarterbacks on the roster. But what is his floor? Well right now the floor is stable but you can hear it creaking. Millner has done some good and also had some rough patches over the course of the spring. None more so than at the spring showcase, where he had a day to forget.
Jack Plummer opened the spring showcase proceedings with a dime over the top to Mavin Anderson for the game’s first score, with Anderson dusting Fatu Iosefa over the top for the touchdown. Plummer seemed cool, calm, and collected in his timing routes and strength routes, keeping the poise needed for a power five starting caliber quarterback.
On the other hand, it was a mess for Millner. From the timing, to the staredowns, to the footwork and timing, things just did not work today. Millner was sacked multiple times off safety blitzes, which can partially be attributed to the offensive line not communicating but there still wasn’t that light signal to get rid of the ball quickly. Fatu Iosefa and Miles Williams reaped the benefits of these mishaps. Williams especially, who in addition to his sack, capitalized on a Millner bail that sailed off play action for an interception. Couple that with a long sack from Ethan Saunders on a ball that should’ve been thrown away, and it was a day to forget for Millner. As much as he had a slow start, he did come around as the day progressed, a signal to the poise he has and the confidence the coaching staff has despite the high and lows. However, it is clear at this stage that Jack Plummer is the starting quarterback for your California Golden Bears.
The 2nd safety position is also a position up for grabs with the departure of Elijah Hicks to the NFL. Daniel Scott holds one firm safety position, while TMW (Texas Miles Williams according to Coach Wilcox) and Raymond Woodie III are fighting over the final safety spot. Advantage so far goes to Williams, who had a sack and interception while also generally flying all over the field in the spring showcase. Williams has reportedly had a “strong spring” according to Coach Wilcox so it looks like he is in the pole position for the bulk of the snaps as people get more and more healthy in the secondary.
The final position (or set of positions) that are up for grabs are along the offensive line. Outside of Ben Coleman at LT, Matthew Cindric at C, and Brayden Rohme at RT, everyone else is unproven and looking to fight for snaps. The current offensive line has Coleman, Everett Johnson at LG, Cindric, Ender Aguilar at RG, and Rohme. Safe to say its a mixed bag. However, Johnson has had a good spring from what I’ve seen, sealing the interior well in the run game allowing backs like Jaydn Ott and DeCarlos Brooks to cut back effectively. These are the three main battles as summer comes and fall camp approaches.
Plummer: 6/8, 59yds, 1 TD
Millner: 6/15, 54yds, 1 INT
Zach Johnson: 3/3, 48yds, 1 TD
Stredick: 5 rush, 56yds
Moore: 4 rush, 23 yds
Ott: 6 rush, 21 yds
Mavin Anderson: 2 rec, 40yds
Dario Longhetto: 3/3 kicks, from 24, 44, and 49 yards
Fatu Iosefa: 2 sacks
Ethan Saunders: 1 sack
Miles Williams: 1 sack, 1 INT
Here is my starting lineup for the Bears (some positions 2 deep depending on how much I feel like I think I know).
QB: Plummer, Millner
RB: Damien Moore, Jaydn Ott/DeCarlos Brooks
WR: J.Michael Sturdivant, Jeremiah Hunter, Mavin Anderson
TE: Jermaine Terry II/Keleki Latu*(injured)
O line: Coleman, E.Johnson, Cindric, Driscoll*(injured), Rohme.
I would expect a transfer portal lineman over the course of the year, probably at LT to shift Coleman down to LG
D Line: Ethan Saunders, BRETT Johnson, Ricky Correia
OLB: Orin Patu, Braxten Croteau
ILB: Femi Oladejo, Nate Rutchena/Jackson Sirmon, with Mo Iosefa, and Blake Antzoulatos backing up
CB: Lu Magia Hearns, Isaiah Young with Collin Gamble/Evan McLurkin/Tyson McWilliams backing up
S: Daniel Scott with Miles Williams/Raymond Woodie III fighting for the final safety spot
P: Jameson Sheehan
K: Dario Longhetto
As Cal goes off for summer break the referendum is this on what we learned: Cal is an untapped team with a lot to prove. They have an experienced and talented defense, with the possibility of being better than the 2018 defense. However, the offense is young and completely unproven. They may possess more talent and athleticism than the people who they replaced, but to harness the talent in game is a whole different story. There is potential there, no doubt about it, along with the it factor that they can go out and win games. It all just remains to be seen how those bumps in the road are navigated throughout the season. There’s great stability at key positions, but a fair amount of the unknown in positions that also matter. Despite all that, the fanbase is excited, the media is excited, and most importantly, I’m excited for the season that’s to come. And you should be too. Go Bears! :)