Cal held its first full-pads scrimmage of the preseason on Tuesday, although the 85 plays followed a situational-football format and did not resemble a regular game. The offensive standouts for the day were tight end Collin Moore, wide receiver Jeremiah Hawkins, running back DeShawn Collins and backup quarterback Robby Rowell
Our general assessment: Boy, that first-team Cal defense is good. The offense? Well, er, uh, that is, I mean . . . It's safe to say the offense did improve as the day wore on, but the Bears have a lot to work on when they have the ball.
The Bears' first-team defense played sparingly, but it smothered the Cal offense when it was on the field. Luc Bequette, a starter at defensive end the past two years, got playing time at the nose guard position Tuesday, as Aaron Maldonado and Siulagisipai Fuimaono, the two players expected to compete for the starting nose guard position, continue to be absent for "personal reasons." Head coach Justin Wilcox said in the video above that he still hopes to have those two back on the field, but does not know when.
A number of players were held out completely from Tuesday's scrimmage.
Chase Garbers got most of the playing time at quarterback Tuesday, with Devon Modster getting the second-most snaps.
Garbers did not have much time to throw and had only limited success, but he did make two nice passes -- a 27-yard touchdown pass to third-year sophomore tight end Collin Moore and a 56-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Jeremiah Hawkins. Those are the kind of big plays the Bears are looking for, so that was encouraging, although they both came against backup defenders.
The offense did get better later in the scrimmage, although it was not going against the first-team defense by then.
"We didn't start real fast on that side of the ball," Wilcox said of the offense, "but I like how they stayed with it and kept competing, because they ended up making some plays and moving the ball as the day went on."
Otherwise, it was the little things that seemed to irk Wilcox about the offense, which worked with a full complement of officials calling penalties.
"Things we got to clean up on offense: poor snaps showed up, procedure penalties, around six of them, for whatever the reason was, and a couple of turnovers," Wilcox said. "These are the things that don't really take any talent."
The highlight for Modster was a 15-yard TD pass to Moore, but Garbers got considerably more playing time than Modster,. who does not seem to be gaining any ground on Garbers in the competition to become the starting quarterback.
Wilcox said in the video above that Cal still has not heard from the NCAA regarding its ruling of whether Modster will be eligible to play in the opener. (The issue revolves around his transfer from UCLA.)
If Modster cannot play in the opener, the backup quarterback against UC Davis might be redshirt freshman Robby Rowell. He played only one series Tuesday and it was a against backup defensive players, but Rowell directed the best offensive drive of the day.
Rowell completed all four of his pass attempts, including the best pass of the day -- a perfectly thrown 32-yard completion to Hawkins, who caught the ball in stride as he neared the right sideline.
Chris Brown Jr., who is expected to be the starting running back, played very little, but he did catch a short swing pass from Garbers against the first-team defense.
DeShawn Collins had the most impressive showing among the running backs.
Special teams? "Not real strong honestly," Wilcox said.
Steven Coutts punting and the protection were not up to Cal's standards, and place-kicking was erratic. Greg Thomas, who did the kicking for Cal last year, and Gabe Siemieniec each made a 47-yard field goal and each also had one blocked from that distance. Thomas later made a 33-yard try and Siemieniec missed another 47-yard attempt.