Among the standout performers were quarterback Nate Longshore, who went 10-of-15 for 139 yards and three touchdowns, DeSean Jackson who had caught a 29-yard touchdown pass, James Montgomery who ran 8 times for 45 yards, and Lavelle Hawkins who caught two passes for 51 yards and finished up the afternoon's scrimmage playing tailback.
The slightly-more-than-90-minute scrimmage involved different offensive units playing against different defensive units. Quarterbacks were generally off limits, as Longshore and Reed wore red jerseys. Pass rushers were allowed to get close to the quarterback, but didn't tee off on them. Reed saw action, despite not having participated in practice during the week, and he had his rustiest showing of the spring, completing just 1-of-6 passes for two yards. Bryan Van Meter and Cory Smits also saw action at quarterback, while Kevin Riley sat out, with his arm in a sling.
Out of 16 offensive sequences, California scored touchdowns six times. However, four of those happened during the latter stages of the scrimmage when the offense had the ball starting on the opponent's 30-yard line.
On the opening possession, Cal's first-team offense drove 70 yards on eight plays, climaxed by a 29-yard touchdown pass from Longshore to Jackson. From a 2nd-and-4, Longshore threw a pass to the left side that hung in the air. Jackson circled under it, positioning himself so he could run into and accelerate through the catch. He easily sliced through the defense for a touchdown.
The following nine possessions were dominated by the defense, as the offense could most just two first downs. Highlights included the ubiquitous Zack Follett loudly stuffing James Montgomery on a run, and being credited with a non-contact sack on Kyle Reed on the following play; a sack by Rulon Davis, a big hit by Brett Johnson breaking up a Reed to Cooper Miller pass, a near-interception by Jesse Brooks, a blocked pass by Matt Malele, an interception by Marcus Ezeff, and a blocked pass by Eddie Young.
Head coach Jeff Tedford was less than enthusiastic about the team's offensive showing.
"It was a pretty poor day offensively," said Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. "We didn't play the #1 guys very much. We didn't execute very well and I wasn't happy with the way the quarterbacks controlled the offense."
The punt unit had one of its rougher days. Out of first six punts that were attempted with a rush, three were blocked, and one was badly shanked. Two subsequent punts were kicked without a rush and were returned for touchdowns, a 76-yarder by Nyan Boateng and a 71-yarder by Brandon Jones. Cal also had two long kickoff returns, a 37-yarder by Syd'Quan Thompson and a35-yarder by Hawkins While onlookers might bemoan the long returns especially on the heels of last week's kickoff returns for touchdowns; given the kamikaze nature of special teams and the foolishness of risking injury at this point in the spring, the coaching staff might have encouraged the players to restrain their zeal and avoid blowing up a vulnerable teammate.
Other offensive highlights included a 30-yard touchdown run by Montgomery where he had the chance to show off some of his speed, a 21-yard catch-and-run from Van Meter to Holley where the sophomore from Pomona lowered his shoulder and knocked Hagan to the side, an 11-yard touchdown pass from Longshore to tight end Craig Stevens, where Longshore stood tall in the face of a rush.
Near the end of scrimmage, Hawkins, lined up at tailback, showing a lot of energy in running a 10-yard sweep, and scoring on an acrobatic 2-yard dive, then running off to exchange enthusiastic flying chest bumps with fellow starting wide receivers Jackson and Robert Jordan.
Could it be that the offensive braintrust is figuring out new ways to deploy their arsenal?
"I did it just to pacify him," said Tedford of the Hawkins experiment.
Afterwards, Tedford talked about areas that he was encouraged about coming out of spring practice.
"It was nice to see James Montgomery step up but we still need depth at tailback," said Tedford." The two young quarterbacks (Reed and Riley) were doing a nice job until they got hurt. On the defensive line we had a lot of guys step up. Rulon Davis did a nice job, Derrick Hill did a nice job, so did Brett Johnson and Darian Hagan. We've got a lot of confidence in Charles Amadi even though he didn't play."
The key to California's offensive success is its line play and the past few weeks helped the staff to identify players who might be candidates to join the rotation."
"Brian De La Puente had a good spring, Chris Guarnero had a nice spring," said Tedford. "When we come out of fall camp we want to identify the eight or nine guys that we want to go with."
Defensively, Tedford was happy that he'll be able to return a unit that has a lot of game experience.
"Guys like (Thomas) DeCoud, Follett, (Greg) Van Hoesen, and (Matt) Malele, all played last year. Even though we have to replace Mickey (Pimentel) and (Desmond) Bishop, all of the other linebackers played last year. It's not like we have a bunch of new guys that we have to break in. We've got some chemistry there, and if we work a little harder, we can be very good."
While the Bears might still be a long way from having the polish that they'll need when they take on Tennessee in September, to get panicked about where the team is at this point would be like wringing your hands over your kid's wind symphony after hearing the group wheeze their way through an early practice. When it's time for the big show, they'll be ready.
"In spring, we do everything," said Tedford. "We put in the whole offense, and we put in all of our plays and every play we're not going to be sharp. (A lot of what we d) is mostly for the young guys to introduce them to they system. We'll make mistakes, but we'll learn from them and in the fall we'll hone in on some things."
|Bryan Van Meter||12||3||25.0||33||1||0||0|
|QB hit while throwing||1||0||--||--||--|
These line-ups were the first set of personnel that participated with each unit on Saturday's scrimmage. As the afternoon went on, players were rotated in and out of each unit.
FIRST UNIT OFFENSE
|WR||Jackson, Hawkins, Jordan|
Mack, De La Puente, Teofilo
FIRST UNIT DEFENSE
|DL||Jones, Malele, Kane, Alualu|
|LB||Moye, Felder, Van Hoesen|
|DB||Thompson, DeCoud, Peele, Hagan|
|*At times, Kane rotatedout with
Follett coming in
SECOND UNIT OFFENSE
|WR||Cunningham, S. Young, Morrow|
|OL||Gray, Laird, Guarnero,
SECOND UNIT DEFENSE
|DL||Davis, Hill, Costanzo, Allen|
|LB||Russi, Young, Kirst|
|DB||Brooks, Johnson, Jones, Ezeff|
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