In anticipation of the Spring Series of Drills, our resident Waterboy has been kind enough to write out a few paragraphs on What 2 Watch 4 on Saturday. I believe the Spring Series of Drills starts at 2 with a surplus sale beforehand. Pin the Tail on the Treehugger starts at 1, so be sure to get up there ahead of time.
Without further adu:
With this year’s Spring Game only a few days away, I thought it might be beneficial to talk about what a fan might expect to see and look forward to this Saturday. As many of you hardcore fans already know, Cal’s Spring Game takes place this Saturday. In case you haven’t heard, there won’t be an actual game or even too much of a scrimmage.
Yes, the lack of a true Spring Game or scrimmage does suck. Like all of you Cal fans reading this, I would really like to see some football and collisions this Saturday but then again I don’t want any serious injuries that might endanger our chances at the Rose Bowl or National Championship next year.
I wasn’t around during the Holmoe years - thank god otherwise I might have committed suicide - so I can’t tell you if not having a real Spring Game is abnormal for Cal Football. But under Tedford, not having a Spring Game is normal. No, nothing is wrong with our team but Tedford simply does not want to take any chances. If you haven’t figured it out already, Tedford is a fairly conservative guy - so when he’s in doubt he’ll take the safer choice.
So instead of a true Spring Game, this Saturday we can look forward to a lot of positional drills. Each position will split up and work on their respective techniques and strategies. For the casual fan, observing and listening to positional practice is probably a little boring. But for the hardcore fan, this provides an excellent time to see how well the players know how to play the position. If the coaches are loud enough or you can get close enough, be sure to listen in on who is doing what well and who isn’t. All the players can improve on something, but often a coach might pick out a player for their lack of technique or excellent technique. This little bit of information is small by itself but if you’re trying to figure out who will win the second CB spot or the second QB spot then every little piece of the puzzle helps.
While the majority of Saturday’s practice will probably be positional drills, we should see some 1 on 1 action. This will take place between the WRs and the DBs. Watching the 1 on 1s provides an excellent chance at gauging a WR’s route running skills, hands, agility, acceleration, speed, and technique. When watching a WR, be sure to observe their ball catching technique, whether they shield the ball with their body during the catch, and if they came back to the ball on underneath routes. On the other hand, observing the DBs provides an excellent chance at gauging their man coverage skills, agility, speed, acceleration, and instincts. When watching a DB, be sure to look for a fluid backpedal, and a fast rotation of the hips. Additionally, 1 on 1s provide an excellent opportunity to gauge the quarterback’s accuracy during ideal conditions. When gauging a QB’s throw, be sure to observe whether he gave the ball appropriate touch (if needed), accuracy and/or placement, and anticipation.
After 1 on 1s, we will probably get to see some 7 on 7s. This drill does not include the OL and DL. Thus, since there is no pass rush, this drill is the best drill to assess a quarterback’s ability to read the defense and find the open receiver. While observing the quarterback during this drill, be sure to assess whether the appropriate touch was given to the ball, and the ball’s placement. Try not to make too many judgments about whether the quarterback made the correct read because well… simply put, few of us are qualified to make such judgments. Afterall, the quarterback’s view is not as clear as ours, nor do most of us actually know the proper reads for such a play against a certain defense.
Finally, we will probably get a glimpse of 11 on 11s. This won’t be a scrimmage, but the players are allowed to hit as long as they don’t tackle. The purpose of these 11 on 11s is for the offense to practice certain plays for certain situations. Players will be shuffled in and out throughout the 11 on 11s so everyone gets some snaps. During the 11 on 11s is probably the best time to observe the OL and DL. On defense, be sure to look for DL penetration against the pass and containment against the run. On offense, look for the OL’s ability to open huge running holes and maintaining a suitable pocket. Additionally, during screen plays be sure to observe whether the DL falls for the screen or not and if the OL hustles down the field for aggressive blocks.
If we are lucky, we might also get to see some more uncommon drills such as 1 on 1 or 2 on 2 blocking drills between OL & TEs versus the DL & LBs. These drills are a little more uncommon because they are more strenuous but offer a great opportunity to gauge the OL’s run blocking ability and the DL’s run stopping ability. An even rarer drill that we might see - this drill was utilized last Saturday - is the 2 level 1 on 1 blocking drill. During this drill a quarterback will take a snap from an offensive lineman and then hand the ball off to a ball carrier. The offensive lineman will engage a defensive lineman or linebacker in a block, and further down the field a wide receiver will engage a defensive back in another block. All the while the ball carrier will try and run between a bottle necked area and not get tackled by the defensive players. This drill is particularly exciting for the fan and efficient for the team. Not only do quarterback/center exchanges get reps, but RBs get reps reading blocks, OL/TEs get practice blocking, DL & LBs get practice breaking blocks and keeping containment.
All in all, the Spring Game should still contain plenty of excitement despite not being a real game. But what occurs this Saturday shouldn’t be a concern to any hard core Cal Football fan because it’s still football. And if you’re like me, you’re probably going through Cal Football deprivation and desperately need a dose of it to just stay sane. So be sure to come on Saturday and show your support for the team!
I, for one, cannot wait for Saturday!