California Golden Blogs, the great SBN Cal blog, reached out to us about doing a spring practice recap Q&A. As you know, CU takes on Cal as a non-conference game this season as opposed to a conference game (would have been cooler if it was a home and home). The Buffs would love nothing more to get payback for last season's shellacking in Berkeley to send a message to the new conference that this team is not a Dan Hawkins coached outfit.
What were the core questions that you had hoped would be answered by Spring Practice? Were conclusions reached?
LeonPowe: Who is quarterbacking this team? Who will be the primary back-up at the running back? And can we find some guys to block for them?
The answers -
Well, we didn't figure out it, but we got closer by narrowing the competition to Bridgeford, Mansion and Maynard. And got a better idea of the capabilities of the 3 of them.
I don't think we got much traction on the second question - who will be backing up Isi Sofele. Injuries and perhaps waiting for some freshmen or transfers to get to practice left us with a giant question mark.
Any major style changes coming our way in the fall? New offense or defense installed?
What players emerged on offense? On defense?
LeonPowe: Everything old is new again. We're returning to the Tedford play calling on offense, with former and once again side kick Jim Michalczik (who oversaw the best offensive lines of the Tedford era) returns as his offensive coordinator and o-line coach. So, we're hoping for a style change for the better. On the defensive side, it's year 2 under Clancy Pendergast and we hope the lows (Nevada - where did Kapernack go?!) don't go quite so low this year, while the highs remain high (Oregon - 15 points! 7 off a kick return!)
Kodiak: On offense, Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen have locked down the starting WR spots. The QB competition between Maynard and Bridgford rages on although it looks like Maynard has the advantage now. It may be RB by committee because no one has emerged as a dominant back. Due to injuries, we still don't know how our Oline will shape out. Schwartz is penciled in as the starting backside tackle. On defense, we've heard reports that Whiteside and Wilkerson are providing a pass-rushing threat from the outside LB position. Gabe King and Deandre Coleman are getting attention at DE, and Marc Anthony is playing well at DB.
What are your biggest worries coming out of spring ball for the fall?
TwistNHook: Oh God, the biggest worry, by far, is the QB position. We haven't had a great season at QB since Nate Longshore in 2006. Kevin Riley showed some flashes, but, unfortunately, wasn't sufficiently consistent. Brock Mansion was........a work in progress.
We have a few people who are vying for that QB spot. The afore mentioned Brock Mansion is back in the mix. Allan Bridgford is another player with a shot. Lastly, there is Keenan Allen's half-brother Zach Maynard trying to be the starter. It is not really clear at this point, who will be the starter. All signs point to Maynard, but nothing is set in stone yet. The bottom line is that there will not be a large amount of experience by the Cal starting QB next year. And that is quite worrisome.
We also wrote this post about lingering worries from 2010:
Project your season. Contender? Pretender? Middle of the pack?
TwistNHook: Well, unfortunately, it doesn't look promising for Cal. Firstly, Cal is playing no home games next year. They are playing 5 "home" games at AT+T part where MLB's San Francisco Giants play. It will be an interesting and unique situation. But while there are upgrades occurring to Memorial Stadium, unfortunately, Cal is partially on the road. So, this probably won't help the team.
Secondly, Cal lost some key players, especially on offense. Shane Vereen has been a rock for Cal for the last few years at RB. This is the first time in recent memory that we don't have 100% faith in the RB playing for Cal. We aren't entirely certain, who is going to start, even!
We also have no idea who is going to start at QB. It might be Allan Bridgford. It might be Zach Maynard. It might even be fan punching bag, Brock Mansion. Even with recent reports that Maynard is the starter, lots can happen between now and September.
On defense, things are somewhat more settled. However, the turnover on an already poor offense coupled with the odd "road" season creates many concerns. I fear we'll be lucky to make a bowl game this year. But I hope to be proved wrong!