BERKELEY -- When California returned from Australia, the Bears tried to get back into their normal bye week routine, but on Tuesday, as Cal hit the field for its first official practice, the three-target net that offensive coordinator Jake Spavital and his quintet of quarterbacks -- Davis Webb, Ross Bowers, Chase Forrest, Max Gilliam and Victor Viramontes -- use for accuracy drills wasn't set up by the facilities staff. So, they improvised, playing a game of HORSE. The winner? Bowers. The runner-up? Freshman Viramontes, who's proven himself a strong-armed, accurate passer throughout fall camp and again on Tuesday. Spavital also participated in the improvised drill, and came in third.
Webb, though, who was unsatisfied with his performance in Sydney, had his moment later in practice, hitting Chad Hansen for a 70-yard touchdown in full 11-on-11 work.
BearTerritory caught up with Spavital after practice for an in-depth one-on-one. Here's the transcript:
BT: So, you go from the booming metropolis of College Station, Tex., to Cal, and then all the way to Australia ...
JS: It was an interesting experience. It was a completely different environment. It was kind of quiet, at times when you'd think it'd get a little bit rowdy, but I'm telling you, they were so excited just about the entire environment -- the Australians were -- that, the Wave, and when they played Living on a Prayer, those were the loudest times.
BT: Really? Living on a Prayer? Well, at least we know they have good taste in music.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1699980-hansen-muhammad-pr...JS: Yeah. That was the thing w kept preaching to [the players], was that we've got to create our own energy, and I thought they came out of the gate pretty quick.
BT: Offense looked a little disjointed, maybe at the beginning, is what the general consensus has been. What about from your perspective?
JS: A lot of unknowns. I think everybody was a little amped. I thought Davis missed two throws early, one to Ray Hudson, one to Kanawai Noa, and then settled in. They came out and threw some things at us that we'd never seen before, of all the tape that we studied on them. That's no excuse. I thought we settled down after the second drive, when we three-and-outed. We settled down after the first quarter, and really, that two-minute drive right before the end of the first half was when we kind of put everything together.
BT: I think Davis had four overthrows in his first three drives. Was part of that the fact that guys were slipping, or were they just figuring each other out?
JS: Both. Just trying to get a feel for a lot of things. You could tell that he was real comfortable with Chad, early, and then, once everybody started to settle in, you could see that he started moving his targets to other guys. I thought, for the first game, I thought he handled it pretty well. He did some very mature checks that an inexperienced guy would never have done.
BT: For example?
JS: He was checking run in certain situations. He had a very good flow of the game. That first drive, we came out and we were running the ball pretty efficiently, so he was leaning on that, and then when the run game started, he started checking to pass, so he was managing the entire flow of the entire game, which is really hard to do, unless you've got a lot of experience of just understanding how certain things go. It might look, schematically, like the right play to do, but the energy may not be completely focused on that by everybody. I thought he did a very good job of handling the whole situation.
BT: So a lot of it's a look-and-feel ...
JS: Yes. It's a look and feel. It's very hard to accomplish. It is. That's why they pay quarterbacks so much money.
BT: That 1:42 drive there, where you left seven seconds on the clock, right before halftime, how much of that drive is Webb improvising, and how much is that you play calling?
JS: A little of both. That drive, in particular, he kept with a lot of the play calls, because, defenses, in two-minute, they base up and do the same looks over and over and over, so he was pretty comfortable, knew exactly where they were going. You've got to give Hawaii credit, in terms of, they didn't just sit back and take it on times where we were hitting them with the run game real early, they came out and loaded the box and tried to make us one-dimensional. I thought Davis did a great job at understanding what they were trying to accomplish, and attacking them from there.
BT: Is there any concern that he looked at Chad 16 times out of 54, or is it, 'Hey, he's the hot hand'?
JS: It's the hot hand, and you go with it. I've been in games where we've had that many catches [by one player] many times. I think that's just the natural feel for a QB, and a guy that he's pretty comfortable with. That's what we put the emphasis on, getting in the meeting rooms this week. In preparation for San Diego State, we've got to get these other kids, especially the younger ones that have got to grow up and you've got to tell them that they're not rookies anymore, they've got to play like they're veterans.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1698397-demetris-robertson...JS: Bug Rivera had five. We had 12 guys catch balls.
BT: Demetris Robertson was targeted three times, only two catches, but we didn't see him much in the middle of the game, after it looked like he came down hard on that first catch out of bounds. Was that just a flow thing?
JS: He was good. It was the flow of the thing. We went in knowing that we were going to be limited with his reps, anyways. We were going to put him in certain situations. He's young, and we wanted him to just be comfortable, I think, so we put him in on plays that he was very familiar with, especially with a defense that was throwing so many multiple looks at you. We wanted him to just play fast and get acclimated to the game, and I think you saw the improvements in D-Rob throughout the course of the game, where he's a guy that you're going to keep repping, getting better, and I think he's going to be a really good player for us.
BT: How many snaps did he play?
JS: I don't know, exactly. He was probably around 35 or so. He got in a lot at the end of the game when we were handing the ball off, trying to run the clock down and doing some things of that nature. It was good for him there, just to understand blocking schemes on the perimeter, because we rely heavily on those quick screens.
BT: Overall, the run game, how pleased are you with how you looked there?
JS: Oh, it was OK. It's never as good as you think, it's never as bad as you think. I thought, at times, we showed spurts, and I thought there were times where we didn't run the ball very crisply. But, there were times where we were hitting the big play. I think we've got to keep grinding through the whole process of it, and I think they're starting to understand the concepts of what we're trying to accomplish.
BT: Just looking through my running notes through the game, I counted somewhere around 23 of the 35 run plays were A- and B-gap runs -- inside. Is that close to the ratio that you guys had [going in]?
JS: It depends on what the defense is giving us. They were very big on keeping containment, and keeping the ball in the middle, which, I thought we had a pretty good balance of running in between the tackles and sprinkling it up [outside], like, if you look at Khalfani [Muhammad], he scored on an [inside run], and he had a 40-yard run where it was outside the tackle, and he put his foot in the ground and got vertical on it. A lot of the stuff, we're repping a lot of it just so we can get as many reps as we possibly can, because we've got to keep improving as an offense.
BT: Do you like the fact that you were able to run it inside, so consistently, and so well?
JS: Yes. If you can do that, that puts a lot of pressure on those defensive coordinators, and that's why we put such an emphasis on that throughout spring and fall camp. We've just got to stay on 'em, and continue to keep getting better each day.