Cal receiver corps settles out, Vic Wharton shines and we go one-on-one with Fred Tate

BERKELEY -- The Cal wide receiving corps looks to have shaken out a bit, as Vic Wharton uses Chad Hansen's absence to have his best day. Plus, we go one-on-one with defensive line coach Fred Tate, who has some unexpected additions to the rotation after Saturday's scrimmage.

Fall Camp Central

MESSAGE BOARDS: Live Practice Thread

BERKELEY -- During one-on-one reps early in California's 12th practice of fall camp, there were four balls clearly overthrown, and not because of anything the defensive backs did. There are still some wrinkles that need to be ironed out between the quarterbacks and the receiving corps, but over the next week, as the Bears prepare to depart for Australia with three double days, those issues should be resolved.

The receiving corps -- and the rest of the positional groups -- have been narrowed, with scout teams formed and rotation players working on installation as Cal gets ready to face a big question mark in Hawaii, which is breaking in an entirely new coaching staff. "It's a bit of an unknown, what exactly we're going to see, on both sides of the ball," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "Obviously, we go back and look at film of coordinators and where they were and what they did, and there's a mixed bag of stuff, especially offensively. You just try to get ready for everything you're going to see, and go from there."

A large chunk of practice was dedicated to scout team work and walk-through, as Cal tries to puzzle out some of the defensive looks they'll see against the Warriors, who brought in former Boston College defensive backs coach Kevin Lempa, who guided the Eagles to the sixth-best passing defense last season, in terms of yards allowed per game through the air.

"You go back and you look at Boston College, obviously," said Dykes. "That's where their coordinator came from, so you try to see what they did. They had a really good defensive football team."

Monday was the first day that Cal specifically began dealing with Hawaii, and that meant that it was the first day a true scout team emerged. While freshman tackle Jake Curhan did take second-team reps in 11-on-11, he spent much of the day on the scout team. The default with a freshman lineman is to redshirt him, and it appears that's the plan, though offensive line coach Brandon Jones pegged the 6-foot-6 freshman as a starter as soon as next season

Redshirt freshman center Ryan GibsonJ.D. HinnantChris Palmer and Henry Bazakas were also on the scout offensive line.

"We have to make sure practices are competitive and popping and that we keep the physical mentality that we've had so far," Dykes said. "That's important for us. You have a tendency, when you start going against scout teams, to lose that edge, so we want to make sure we keep it all the way through this week, and certainly as we get into game week."

Freshman running backs Zion Echols and Derrick Clark worked with the scout team, as did freshmen Logan GambleMatt Laris and Drew Kobayashi.

"We're starting to get it figured out," Dykes said. "The good thing is, we've got some guys. We rested Chad [Hansen] a little bit today. He had a bruised calf, so we rested him. He could have practiced, but we thought it was in his best interests to rest. We probably won't do that much with him tomorrow, either. We gave Vic Wharton more opportunities to get reps, which Vic needs." Wharton easily had his best day yet, making two twisting grabs in one-on-ones and showing off the side-to-side shake he's been trying to recover since a hip surgery kept him out all of last season, as he served his transfer redshirt year.

"I thought he had one of his better days," Dykes said. "You could see him starting to figure things out, the light switch starting to come on. I don't know that he's 100 percent, yet. He's still finding his legs. There are times when you see it, and you used to see it about 25 percent of the time, but now, we're seeing it about 75 percent of the time. We've just got to get that other 25 percent of the time."

On one notable rep, Wharton adjusted to the ball in flight around Jaylinn Hawkins and stumbled in for a touchdown in one-on-ones.

"I think our rotation is starting to shape up," Dykes said. "We feel good about what we have at X. Brandon Singleton has been really consistent there. I think if you go back and look at, especially really the last four or five practices, he's done a good job at that position. We only had him for a limited time in the scrimmage, but I think he's performed well, and he's been consistent."

Singleton ran a post-dig route and out-ran freshman Josh Drayden for a 39-yard grab in one-on-ones, and has so far, outside of Hansen, been the best combination of speed, hands and physicality.

"Demetris [Robertson], is coming on," Dykes said. "He's done some good things. We've just got to get him on the same page. Pat Worstell has been the guy that can hold it all together. At that position, it's interesting. Chad's kind of been pretty consistent, so we're starting to figure all that stuff out."

Robertson went inside and then outside of safety Evan Rambo on a one-on-one route and then lowered his shoulder to bully his way in for a touchdown. In red zone one-on-ones, he dove in the back of the end zone to haul in a touchdown grab around Marloshawn Franklin on a pass from Davis Webb. Robertson then caught a fade over Franklin in the back corner for a score. 

Melquise Stovall made two touchdown grabs in one-on-ones, one being a twisting, turning grab around nickel back Cameron Walker, and then, in 11-on-11, broke free down the far sideline for a 55-yard touchdown from Ross Bowers, but it was called back due to holding by Vince Johnson, trying to fend off Zeandae Johnson. On the next play, Vince Johnson blocked Zeandae Johnson down to free up Vic Enwere for a 14-yard gain. "At the inside receiver positions, a lot of good moving pieces inside," Dykes said. "A lot of talented guys that are coming on. Kanawai [Noa] got back with us, and is doing more and more. He's going to give us more inside, as well."

Noa caught a slant for nine yards in 11-on-11.

Franklin had two breakups in one-on-ones, while the other contender for the No. 2 corner spot, Antoine Albert, had two, as well.

Hawkins later came up with an interception against Chase Forrest in seven-on-seven work, as did Chibuzo Nwokocha, who picked off Ross Bowers. Nwokocha also added a pick to finish off one-on-ones.

Linebacker Ray Davison tallied his third pick of camp, getting a tipped ball on the second play of 11-on-11s.


Freshman receiver Greyson Bankhead -- who grayshirted last season -- was back on the field, though he was on crutches. 

"He broke his leg in a moped accident, had surgery, and we'll see how quickly he comes back," Dykes said. "I think we're planning on not having him, but there's a chance we might get him at the end of the season, for a bowl game or whatever, so we'll wait and see how that plays out."


One on One With Fred Tate

The defensive line was much more active on Monday, with Chinedu Udeogu providing pressure off the edge, and Russell Becker dropping Patrick Laird for a loss. James Looney also notched a TFL on Khalfani Muhammad.

Defensive line coach Fred Tate chirped that his line filled their gaps during Saturday's scrimmage, but after practice, put that practice in the past.

"The scrimmage is behind us now," Tate said. "This is Monday. The thing we've got to do is, we've got to get the guys we feel like are going to be in our rotation together. The thing we did on Saturday, we had this guy, that guy, kind of a mixture of guys, to see how these young guys respond to certain things, and kind of set some of the older guys, so that was the biggest thing we did, figure a little bit of that out. Now, what we're doing, leading on into next week, when we really start game planning is, get a unit together up front, and leave that unit together." The Bears seem to have settled on a top five up front, with DeVante Wilson, Looney and Tony Mekari, as well as a co-starter situation at left defensive end, with Cameron Saffle and Noah Westerfield. But, who's next?

"I'm looking at Zeandae Johnson," Tate said of his redshirt freshman end, who had two sacks on Saturday. "I think he made a jump in the scrimmage, did some good things that we saw. He's just got to get more consistent. He's still playing a little like he's still in high school, and he's not."

Also in the mix inside is Marcus Manley, "just from a veteran standpoint," Tate said.

Luc Bequette -- who had three tackles on Saturday -- has parlayed his solid spring into a very solid fall camp, and is pressing for time.

"We feel good about those three guys," Tate said. "Westerfield and Saffle can handle that one side, so that's eight guys right now, that we've got. In the past, we've been playing 12, so I'm looking at the Chinedu [Udeogu]'s of the world, maybe seeing if Trevor Howard steps on, [Russell] Ude[Evan] Weaver, and a combination of [Chris] Yaghi and Becker in there."

Udeogu "plays with great leverage," said Tate, who noted his 84.5-inch wingspan. "Longer than some NBA basketball players," Tate added.

Howard and Ude -- who had a sack on Saturday -- worked with the scout team on Monday, as did Tevin Paul and fellow freshman Yaghi, who had four tackles in the scrimmage.

"He's very strong," Tate said of Yaghi. "We threw a lot at these kids, and they're still learning, so he's swimming a little bit. I feel like, right now, this minute, if we play Saturday, Yaghi would be in the rotation, because he would be the sixth guy."

Howard had a back brace on late last week, and is "banged up a little bit," but has shown promise with speed off the edge.

"He came out here today and did some good things we thought, today, so we're going to continue to look at him," Tate said. "We'll put the ball down and let some of these young guys play again, but he's definitely in the mix. Maybe not in the top one or two guys, but that third group, whoever shakes out, and if we're fortunate enough that those guys shake out, we can redshirt the young guys. If not, we're going to play them."

One of the young defenders who could very well play this season is Weaver.

"We saw Weaver giving great effort," Tate said. "Now, we channel this thing back, here are the defenses that we're running versus Hawaii, and let's go see if you can execute it."

Possibly facing the pistol in two weeks, Cal is going to keep their defense vanilla, for now, given how difficult it is to prepare for a scheme and personnel combination that they haven't seen before.

"It's kind of like Grambling, of last year," Tate said. "You've got to get a general idea of what the head coach's discipline is. He was the offensive coordinator at Nevada, so you've got to look at that, study Hawaii, in terms of their personnel and not their scheme, to see who you're playing against, and then get a mixture, chase a few ghost plays here or there, but be vanilla and base enough to where you get in the game, and you say, 'This is what they're doing, and this is our adjustment.'"


Other Notes and Observations

Victor Viramontes continues to impress with his arm. He's more than just a runner, although while running the pistol, he showed off his speed ... Camryn BynumCameron Goode and Nygel Edmonds worked with the scout team ... Offensive tackles Patrick Mekari and Steven Moore flipped sides on several plays ... Kennedy Emesibe saw time with the second-team offense, though it looks like he'll be more of a blocker, while Malik McMorris can both block, run and catch ... Luke Rubenzer had an interception against Viramontes during scout team work ... Both Derron Brown and Trey Turner were in uppers and practicing in full ... Brown had a breakup on a pass intended for Wharton during 11-on-11 ... Scouts from the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers were in attendance ... Dylan Klumph booted a 60-yard punt ... Khari Vanderbilt had a quarterback hurry on Webb, and had a breakup on Singleton in one-on-ones ... Billy McCrary III was sidelined, riding the stationary bike, as was freshman offensive lineman Gentle Williams ... After having just one drop in the first five days of camp, Jordan Duncan has been very uneven the last several practices, dropping a would-be touchdown grabs in one-on-ones on Monday.

VIDEO TAGS: Davis Webb (7g), Vic Wharton (17w), Darius Allensworth (2b), Marloshawn Franklin (18b), Kanawai Noa (9w), Brandon Singleton (19w), Cameron Walker (3b), Melquise Stovall (1w), Trey Turner (5b), Ray Hudson (11w), Victor Viramontes (10g), Justin Dunn (84w), Camryn Bynum (24b), Patrick Worstell (88w), Bug Rivera (26w), Malik Psalms (23b), Matthew Rockett (24w), Evan Rambo (21b), Jaylinn Hawkins (6b), Nygel Edmonds (8b), Josh Drayden (20b), Chas Peterson (30w), Jordan Veasy (15w), Quentin Tartabull (28b), Antoine Albert (14b), Drew Kobayashi (82w), Ashtyn Davis (27b), Kaodi Dike (39b), Ross Bowers (3g), De'Zhon Grace (34b), Jordan Duncan (2w), Chibuzo Nwokocha (16b)

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