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Cal Practice Day 1: Many Untested Players Create a Challenge

Head coach Justin Wilcox discusses the talent available, absence of Stanley McKenzie and Nick Morrow and the quarterback position
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Cal head coach Justin Wilcox noted that the energy was good on the first day of preseason football camp on Friday, but added this: "If you didn't have great energy and excitement on Day One, you've got serious problems."

Of more concern is finding replacements for so many departed starters. Excluding the punter and place-kicker, Cal returns only seven starters from last season. That's the main reason Cal was picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12 in the preseason media poll.  Wilcox does not see the lack of returning starters as a negative.

"There are going to be a lot of new faces that are playing significant reps," he said in the video atop the story, "but we like the talent on the team. At some point the players are going to be inexperienced. That's just the nature of college football. That's fun. That adds energy to those units, when there's not the incumbent that's been there for two or three years starting."

A few players did not participate Friday. Offensive lineman Bastian Swinney was not a full participant Friday, and inside linebacker Muelu Iosefa was not present for personal reasons, but both are expected back soon. However, defensive end Derek Wilkins is out for the season.

Not on the roster this fall are defensive lineman Stanley McKenzie and incoming freshman tight end Nick Morrow. Wilcox explains in the video below that McKenzie is expected to rejoin the team in the spring, and Morrow will join the team after the first semester in January.

The No. 1 issue, of course, is the quarterback spot.  Nothing has changed since the spring, and Wilcox reiterated what he said last week, that Purdue transfer Jack Plummer would be the starter if a game were played today, and redshirt freshman Kai Millner is the clear No. 2 quarterback at the moment.

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Wilcox was not willing to speculate as to whether both Plummer and Millner might see game action early in the season.

"We'll see," he said in the video below. "It's way too early to talk about that.

"We don't necessarily have a plan to play two quarterbacks. It will reveal itself as needed."

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