Cal Football: 10 Issues to Watch at Spring Practice, Which Starts Wednesday

Jake Curtis

Cal’s spring football practices begin Wednesday morning, and there are a number of issues to sort out during the 15 sessions.

A lot of returning starters from an 8-5 team mean expectations will be high for 2020, and the addition of Bill Musgrave (above) as the offensive coordinator has people thinking the Bears will improve offensively after finishing last in the Pac-12 in total offense and scoring offense the past two seasons. (Videos of Musgrave appear above and throughout the article.)

All practices are free and open to the public at Cal’s Memorial Stadium. A schedule appears at the end of this article.

Here is Cal's updated spring roster.

We take a look at 10 issues to watch during Cal's spring practices:

---How dramatically will the offense change with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave in charge? How much of the offense will he introduce in the spring, and how well will the players internalize in the spring?

---Who will replace Evan Weaver? Kuony Deng will occupy one inside linebacker spot, but there are several candidates to fill the large void left by the departure of Weaver, who led the nation in tackles last season.

---How will Cal deal with the losses in the secondary? Cal’s two starting safeties, Ashtyn Davis and Jaylinn Hawkins, are headed to the NFL. The Bears may move starting cornerback Elijah Hicks to safety, and have toyed with the idea of playing Camryn Bynum at safety at times as well, although he is likely remain at corner for the time being. If Hicks moves, who would replace him at a starting cornerback spot in a secondary that was the Bears’ strength in 2019?

---Which offensive linemen will be available during the spring and how will they develop under new offensive line coach Angus McClure? Virtually every offensive lineman who had meaningful playing time last year returns, but several, such as Will Craig and Gentle Williams, missed significant playing time with injuries. (McClure video below.)

---Will any freshmen emerge during the spring, suggesting they might get playing time in 2020? The eight early enrollees include quarterback Jaden Casey, linebacker Muelu Iosefa, defensive back Trey Paster, defensive back Isaiah Young, wide receiver Mason Mangum, offensive/defensive lineman Everett Johnson, linebacker Jaedon Roberts and punter Jamieson Sheahan.

---Will the role of running backs change with a new running backs coach (Aristotle Thompson), and the more possible use of the backs as receivers in Musgrave’s offense? Christopher Brown Jr. and Marcel Dancy return from an experienced group of backs. (Thompson comments on Cal's running backs in this video.)

---Will the tight end position change in its relative importance? Cal has several talented and experienced tight ends returning, and its top recruit for 2020 (DJ Rogers) and top recruit for 2021 (Jermaine Terry) are both tight ends.

---In what ways will quarterback Chase Garbers continue to develop and how quickly will he grasp the new offensive system?

---How will the wide receiver position shake out and who will emerge as the No. 1 receiver? Nikko Remigio returns after leading the team in receiving in 2019, but Kekoa Crawford was the top receiver while he was healthy. Makai Polk made an impact as a true freshman, particularly late in the season.

---How will the team react to the heightened expectations for the 2020 season? Some teams can handle it; some can’t. The spring may indicate how the Bears are doing in that regard.

(Musgrave comments on how he was hired in the video below.)

Spring Practice Schedule (subject to change)


Wednesday, March 4, 9:30 a.m.

Friday, March 6, 9:30 a.m.

Saturday, March 7, 11 a.m.

Wednesday, March 11, 9:30 a.m.

Friday, March 13, 9:30 a.m.

Saturday, March 14, 11 a.m.

Monday, March 16, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday, March 18, 9:30 a.m.

Friday, March 20, TBA (Pro Day)

Wednesday, April 1, 9:30 a.m.

Friday, April 3, 9:30 a.m.

Saturday, April 4, 11 a.m.

Monday, April 6, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday, April 8, 9:30 a.m.

Friday, April 10, 9:30 a.m.

Saturday, April 11, TBA (Spring Game, Pac-12 Networks)

Saturday, April 18, TBA (Cal Day Event)