The Bears were back in action this Saturday as Cal ended its series of spring practices with its annual spring game. On an absolutely gorgeous day for football, the offense took the field and played the defense in a showcase of just how far both sides of the ball have come over the course of spring.
Earlier this spring, head coach Justin Wilcox declared that the team’s “whole mission in life” was to improve as a staff and as a team. It appears that Wilcox and his players have followed that mission closely.
“We’re better than we were yesterday. I don’t think there’s any doubt in our minds,” Wilcox said.
For a team that finished a lackluster 1-3 last season, being better than yesterday is a great place to start. Adding fresh talent and developing older talent should only further boost the Bears’ chances.
“It’s more competitive in each individual position group than it’s been since I’ve been here, which is a great thing,” Wilcox said. “There are some newer, younger guys who are really pushing the other guys at those positions.”
One of those younger guys will presumably be rising sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter, who has been receiving plenty of buzz this spring. Standing at 6’2’’ and measuring in at 190 lbs., Hunter did not see the field time last year due to injuries, but he ran with the first-team group Saturday. Cal’s first-team offense had limited time to operate, as the staff sought to get more live reps for those lower on the depth chart. But in that limited time, Hunter snagged a nice catch along the sideline on a well-run comeback route and nearly moved the chains.
Redshirt senior quarterback Chase Garbers also looked very impressive, going 5-5 for 71 yards and a touchdown, with 33 of those yards coming on a beautiful deep ball to senior Nikko Remigio. The play set up a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Elijah Mojarro.
But Garbers wasn’t the only productive signal-caller for the Bears. Backup quarterbacks Zach Johnson and Robby Rowell combined to complete 59% of their attempts for 135 yards and one interception. The turnover came on an incredibly heads-up defensive play made by safety Miles Williams.
The blue and gold also ran the ball effectively, pounding the rock for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 33 attempts against the team’s stout defense and improved defensive line. Cal’s bolstered group in the trenches was highlighted by an elephant package featuring nose guards Stanley McKenzie and Ricky Correia. Running back DeCarlos Brooks led all rushers, carrying the ball 10 times en route to 55 yards and two scores.
“This program is headed on an upward trajectory,” Garbers said. “We’ve just got to keep building on what we did this spring.”
With a chip on their shoulders, talent returning and another spring under their belt, the Bears are, of course, looking to follow on their mission to improve. But the team will enter the season with a second goal in mind as well: to claim Cal’s first Rose Bowl bid since 1959.