RECAP: Cal head coach Justin Wilcox evaluates his team after his first spring game

BERKELEY -- Cal head coach Justin Wilcox was pleased, overall, with his first spring game, which saw new faces, and some old faces with new life make big plays on both sides of the ball.


BERKELEY -- From Antoine Albert, who was ready to quit football and simply graduate this May, to Zeandae Johnson and Quentin Tartabull, who were buried on the depth chart last season, to freshman early enrollee Elijah Hicks, Saturday's spring game was full of new life for California.

Albert, who was redshirted last season after "not seeing eye-to-eye" with the previous staff, came up with two breakups in the first half of the televised practice session, and said afterwards that he felt "a new energy" with the defense. Johnson, who's gone from being an afterthought on the defensive front to one of the top defensive linemen in the new 3-4 base, had 2 tackles and several more quarterback hurries, rushing both inside and outside, depending on the defensive situation.

Hicks, who committed to the Bears before they even hired head coach Justin Wilcox, had three breakups and an interception, giving him 3 picks for the spring. 

"He doesn't look like a freshman," Wilcox said.

The defense, as a whole, had two interceptions -- both on quarterback Chase Forrest (who went 15-of-30 for 189 yards and 1 touchdown) -- with the final one coming on the final play of the day -- an end zone fade by Forrest that was picked off by Tartabull, who's undergone two knee surgeries, and had three knee injuries, since his senior year of high school. Tartabull smiled after finishing his interview in front of the banner, saying, "That was my first."

Tartabull's interception gave him 4 for the spring, winning the spring-long competition for the most interceptions among defenders.

Forrest's competition in the quarterback race, Ross Bowers, went 18-of-30 for 168 yards and 4 touchdowns, including a bullet threaded between two defenders and right to tight end Ray Hudson in the back of the end zone.

Though the Bears rested star running back Tre Watson, and did not have star sophomore receivers Demetris Robertson (track) and Melquise Stovall (lower leg injury), Jordan Duncan provided the offensive fireworks hauling in two one-handed touchdown grabs -- one on his back hip, and the other, a one-handed grab over his back shoulder.

Kanawai Noa, who missed much of last season with injury, led all comers with 8 catches for 112 yards on the day, catching a 20-yard dart from Bowers to set up the Hudson touchdown late in practice, and putting his foot in the dirt and changing direction to juke Malik Psalms for a gain of 23, setting up Duncan's first touchdown catch. 

Duncan had tried for a scoring grab on the play before he found pay dirt, but that ball -- on the right side, from a rolling Bowers -- was broken up by Hicks. Duncan then flipped to the left, where he made the catch, which brought the crowd of 1,400 to their feet.

In the run game, Vic Enwere rushed 8 times for 32 yards and one touchdown, a one-yard plunge after he'd been stood up by Johnson. On the first drive, Enwere powered through three tackles for a gain of 13, and also had a 12-yard run.

Outside linebacker Cameron Saffle tallied 2 tackles and a sack, one of three on the day, with the others coming from Russell Ude and Aisea Tongilava. Ude also had a forced fumble, batting the ball out of Forrest's hands during a two-minute drill drive. Outside linebacker Cameron Goode also had a breakup, getting his hands in front of a Forrest pass while getting into the backfield. Before that, Forrest had uncorked a 40-yard, perfectly-timed bomb to speedy Vic Wharton. After the breakup, Forrest hit a fade to Duncan on the right for a shoestring, outside-hip catch for a touchdown.

Cornerback Camryn Bynum led the defense with six tackles, and a breakup, while walk-on transfer Gerran Brown, cousin of four-star 2018 lineman Tommy Brown, had two tackles and a quarterback hurry. Top Stories