With a little over half of fall camp in the books, the storylines at Witter Rugby Field are growing scarce. Zach Maynard is the undisputed starting quarterback, most of the backups are falling into place and just about all that’s left is to wait for Sept. 3.
Which means during the interim, Cal fans can focus on a different, but equally gripping, new development: Mark Brazinski’s beard.
The sophomore may be backing up Dominic Galas at center, but Brazinski’s beard definitely heads up the first team. After bouncing around houses for a month and accidentally leaving his clippers in storage, Brazinski decided to embrace his inner Grizzly Adams just in time for camp.
“I think I’ve inspired a few of my teammates,” he said, beard dripping sweat after practice on Thursday morning.
Unfortunately for humanity, this look may not last much longer. Last summer Brazinski, a business major, had to abandon his bleach-blond look because of Haas Business School’s more, er, professional style, and the profs likely won’t approve of his whiskery greatness either.
Brazinski’s follicle idols, however, would do the art history program proud.
“There’s some pretty good beards in Renaissance art,” he said. “I’d rather not relay some of the names of the paintings, but they’re quite good. Some have inspired me.”
Brazinski’s new look is one change of many for the Cal offensive line. With the return of coach Jim Michalczik, a new era of attending to details has arrived in Berkeley, exemplified by the extra 15 minutes Galas and Brazinski spent practicing shotgun snaps after practice on Thursday. Brazinski admits that there were growing pains during spring ball, but now the unit is “vastly improved.”
“He’s a very high level technician kind of guy,” Brazinski said of Michalczik. “Every part of your technique has to be perfect. Your sets, your run blocks, your aiming points, everything has to be perfect. He really raises the bar on what he wants you to perform on.”
Jones in the film room
Wise old senior Marvin Jones is leaving the flash to the kids. These days, he’s focusing on making strides indoors in the film room.
“A lot of young guys are out here trying to make big plays so they can get noticed,” Jones said. “They’re worrying about what they need to do on the field and studying their playbook. With the veterans, we know the playbook and basically know what’s expected.”
For Jones, that means he has more time for film and preparing for the next game. He’s already looking ahead to Fresno State and the coverage schemes presented by the Bulldogs. The senior is also making time to mentor his fellow wide receivers, something he missed out on as a freshman.
“I didn’t have the guy that was the leader because none of us played when I came in a freshman so everybody was trying to get the No. 1 spot,” Jones said. “That’s a good thing that’s important for me to do now that I’m older and I have years and some success within the offense. I can take a step back and say, ‘This is what you have to do.’
“I embrace that role.”
One of the players who has benefited from Jones’, and new wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau’s, tutelage is freshman walk-on Bryce McGovern. Although he lacks of the flashy speed and style of someone like Keenan Allen, McGovern is already making himself known through his work ethic.
“He didn’t expect to take a lot of reps, but he’s rollin’ with the ones,” Jones said. “He’s ones and twos on special teams. He’s really working hard, and he’s someone who’s impressed me so far, as well as in the meeting room.”
— After looking at tape of yesterday’s scrimmage, coach Jeff Tedford was quick to praise the progress of the young defensive linemen. He repeated more than once that they’re doing very well.
— Besides incumbents D.J. Holt and Mychal Kendricks, Tedford said junior Robert Mullins and sophomore Steven Fanua would see the most time at ILB. It took him a while to come up with the names, though, perhaps because there are so many new standout faces on defense.
— Halfway through camp, Jones is pleased with how the Bears look.
“I like where I’m at right now, and I like where the team’s at right now,” he said. “We’re flying around and doing good things. But we’re going to use the second half of camp to perfect it.”
— The Daily Cal learned the significance of Keenan Allen’s tattoo today. The wolf and Indian chief on his upper arm are an homage to his Native American lineage and could double as a team insignia if the wide receiver is someday drafted by the Chiefs or Redskins.
— Defensive lineman Todd Barr is out with an ankle sprain, running back Darren Ervin is day-to-day with a pulled quad and wideout Maurice Harris will rest his bruised bone for a probably just a few more days.
— Running back C.J. Anderson was not present at the end of practice. According to media relations, he was feeling under the weather, not injured.