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noodlz2

[2023] Golden Nation: 2023 Spring Game What to Watch

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Golden Nation: 2023 Spring Game What to Watch

 

Image result for cal golden bears

 

Offensive Summary

 

Cal's spring game is going to be played on Sunday, June 16th. This is the first spring camp the Golden Bears are led by Head Coach noodlz2 who is also preparing this team for its first full season under his command. He has told us here at Golden Nation that it will be the 1st team offense against 1st team defense, and 2nd team offense against 2nd team defense because iron sharpens iron. This was an inexperienced team with potential last season that is now a little bit more experienced, and talent has developed particularly on the offensive side of the ball. This year's offensive backfield and receivers/tight ends are ranked first in the Pac-12 North. If you've been following Cal since last season at least, you would know that this offense struggled immensely. On the offensive side of the ball there's no doubt that the Golden Bears have some serious firepower at the skill positions, but their offensive line could be the link that causes the chain to break this year.

 

Offensive Position Battles to Watch

 

Running Backs: Naiquon Barner 5-11 211 (Fr) Desert (Edwards CA) 2.5 of 5.0 [Power] vs. RB Raekwon Elam 5-8 201 Sr College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita CA) 4.5 of 4.5 [Power]

 

                                  Image result for cal golden bears running backs 2019    Image result for cal golden bears running backs 2019

 

After redshirt senior Zachary McFadden's performance last season, it seems as if Coach noodlz2 is set on him being the go to back this season. Which is understandable after he accounted for over 1,000 yards of total offense last year. In an offensive backfield filled with talent, this is easily the most hyped offensive position battle for the Golden Bears. Redshirt Freshman Naiquon Barner is fresh off of a redshirt season and has the potential to be one of the nation's top running backs in a couple season. On the other hand senior Raekwon Elam's performance may find him earning a redshirt for next season which would leave the Golden Bears with a nice stable of power backs between Elam, Barner, and freshman Cayden Crawley who will be redshirted this season most definitely. 

 

Right Offensive Tackle: OT Ari Todd 6-2 276 So West Valley (Hemet CA) 2.0 of 3.5 [Pass Blocking] vs. OT Jude Schmitt 6-1 310 (Fr) Galileo Academy (San Francisco CA) 2.0 of 3.5 [Run Blocking]
 

                                
Image result for cal golden bears offensive line 2019

 

The most vital part of a productive offense, is an offensive line that can buy their skill players time to be productive. This year, the right tackle position will be a very inexperienced position. Whoever wins the spot will be baptized by fire each week in an unforgiving Pac-12 North. In an offense predicated on using the run game to open up the pass game, the heavier Jude Schmitt is the favored pick to win the spot over a much lighter Ari Todd. Jude Schmitt's ability to block in the run game has caught the eyes of this Cal coaching staff, and they have high expectations for his performance on Sunday. At the left tackle spot Junior starter Philip Engel will have to play a big brother role, and lead by example to whoever wins the the right tackle spot.

 

Defensive Summary

 

Last season if you were to pick which side of the ball was keeping the Golden Bears competitive, it would probably be the defensive side of the ball. This far into spring ball the Cal coaching staff has hinted that things have changed bit since last fall, especially with depth at the defensive end position which is definitely the biggest concern this season. The strongest position group in this defense is definitely the linebackers ranked 3rd in the division led by senior Mamadou Halloway, followed by a defensive front ranked 4th, and an inexperienced secondary that is going to miss the presence of Blaine Lewis-Thompson that is ranked 5th in the division. Just by looking at this defense on paper, we can tell that this California team is going be in for some shootouts!

 

Defensive Position Battles to Watch

 

Cornerback #2 and #3: CB Zachary Riggins 5-11 202 (Fr) Argonaut (Jackson CA) 2.0 of 3.5 [Zone Coverage] vs. CB Nicholas Ragland 5-10 188 (Jr) Glendale (Glendale CA) 3.0 of 3.0 [Man Coverage] vs. CB Jamie King 6-0 172 Fr Justin-Siena (Napa CA) 1.5 of 3.5 [Zone Coverage]

 

 

Image result for cal golden bears secondary 2019Image result for cal golden bears spring practice 2019Image result for cal golden bears spring practice 2019

 

There is no doubt that senior Shaq Kimbrough will be the number one guy at the corner position this season after starting at free safety for most of the 2022 season, but there's huge question marks for who will be on the other side of the field from him and the next guy up when the Golden Bears defense is in a nickel set. Nicholas Ragland at 5-10 188 pounds has been having a notable camp at the nickel position, his strength of being abie to play man will be beneficial at nickel when playing faster slot receivers. Being the most experienced out of the three, and having a heavier frame than true freshman Jamie King he's more suited to come up in the run if need be. The battle between Zachary Riggins and Jamie King is going to be interesting as both of them are better in zone coverage allowing them to compliment Kimbrough when in a 2 corner set. In a perfect world it would be most ideal for the starting 3 to be Kimbrough, Riggins, and King all being primarily zone coverage defensive backs.

 

Defensive Player to Watch: SS Coleridge Beverly 5-10 195 Fr Chula Vista (Chula Vista CA) 1.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage]

 

 

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Coleridge Beverly has to be the most exciting recruit signed in the 2022 recruiting class, and the coaching staff here at Cal has nothing but high hopes for the talented freshman. Despite being a zone focused secondary, Beverly is the the first piece that will allow this defense to transition into the fast and aggressive man defense head coach noodlz2 plans on installing. The true freshman is extremely explosive and not afraid to strike the stable of backs this California offense is proud of in its backfield. Beverly will be the starting strong safety for the Gold team this Sunday, and despite being expected to redshirt the coaching staff here at Cal has taken some notes on Stanford's secondary last season which lacked experience and put trust in its younger studs.

 

Special Teams Summary

 

Image result for cal golden bears kicker 2019

 

The punter and kicker positions are an interesting group to look at on this years depth chart. The punter position has three potential candidates with sophomore Chris Darnell looking to lock a starting position at both punter and kicker. Redshirt senior Jeremiah Norris and redshirt junior Aaron Baggett-Burch will also be gunning for a starting spot at punter this fall as well. As if Darnell didn't have enough competition already, he will be also be competing with redshirt sophomore Patrick Kane for a chance at the starting kicker position. Going into Sunday's spring game Chris Darnell controls his destiny, as he aims to be the leg for the Golden Bears both at the kicker and punter spot. Also look out for redshirt junior wide receiver Oscar Burr as he is listed as the Gold team's #1 kick returner and punt returner. Towards the end of last season Zachary McFadden took over the roll as the number one kick returner and performed well, there's no doubt this year with the backfield that Cal has that they would not like to take a few snaps away from McFadden if they can giving Burr the opportunity to prove himself this season.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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