For Cal football’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Beau Baldwin, it’s hard not to exhaust the most clichéd sports tropes after a hotly contested and fast-paced 12th day of fall camp on Thursday, especially when those tropes portray the reality of his offense’s progression.
Baldwin and company tried to build on what they did wrong in their first full scrimmage Tuesday, putting an emphasis on consistency and cultivating a winning mindset.
“Things aren’t going to be perfect. Things aren’t going to be perfect on a play, on a series, and a lot of times, even in a quarter of play,” Baldwin said. “So it’s all about what you’re doing with the next play. That was our big focus: that you can’t look in the rearview mirror.”
A renewed focus on earning big “chunk” plays in the passing game has begun to mitigate some of Cal’s biggest pitfalls from last season. Ranked last in the Pac-12 in total offense after an abysmal 2018, the Bears’ quarterbacks have already shown they’re not afraid to hurl the ball deep.
Tuesday’s scrimmage saw quarterback Chase Garbers link with junior Jeremiah Hawkins on a long touchdown reception. The next day, Garbers connected with sophomore Nikko Remigio for another big gain. Remigio, who arrived for camp Monday after nursing an injury, believes an increased emphasis on the deep ball can bring Cal’s offense to the next level.
“We didn’t throw the ball deep last year, like, at all,” Remigio said. “Just making that a point of emphasis is huge, because those are huge momentum changes in a game. You can really pull away with those big, explosive plays.”
Donning spider pads Thursday, the Bears’ offense and defense were separated for the majority of the shortened practice, each walking through a variety of different plays and packages.
The special teams unit, which typically works by itself on Maxwell Family Field, got more reps on the main field as the team organized full punt, field goal and field goal block scenarios before breaking into 11-on-11.
With junior transfer Devon Modster still awaiting word on his availability for Cal’s first game against UC Davis, Garbers continued to field most of the first team reps. Both quarterbacks, among the other young talent Cal has at the position, have struggled with ball security in the early days of camp, a trend Baldwin hopes to temper before Aug. 31.
“It’s about focusing on the positives of ball security and decision-making,” Baldwin said. “It’s just a matter of taking care of the football, trusting your read progression and working on the ball security every day in practice so it becomes a habit.”
As practice continues and players become more comfortable with the playbook, Baldwin is looking for individuals who can make the most out of the toughest situations and separate themselves from the rest.
“How are our guys going to continue working through and handle the toughest moments?” Baldwin said.