Cal released its Week 1 depth chart on Tuesday and graduate transfer Ryan Glover has been named the Bears’ No. 2 quarterback behind senior starter Chase Garbers.
That was less a surprise than the news that sophomore Damien Moore has won the starting running back assignment over senior incumbent Christopher Brooks.
Moore had a breakout performance against Stanford last season, rushing for 121 yards in the Bears' Big Game defeat. Brooks, who changed his named from Christopher Brown Jr., this offseason, rushed for more than 900 yards in 2019 but was limited by injury to 21 carries last season.
Coach Justin Wilcox said no one should read too much into the depth chart at running back.
“They’re both going to play. I know the depth chart is highly anticipated but in my mind they’re both starters," Wilcox said. "It’s going to be spread out at that position and we’re fortunate enough to have more than one guy at that position."
Wilcox said he expects Brooks to have "a great season," and that he's healthy and has played well in camp.
But he said Moore has continued to impress “in terms of his all-around game, running the ball, catching, protecting. He’s very instinctive as a runner. Since he’s been here, each and every week seems to get better and better.”
The Bears brought Glover onto the roster this summer in order to provide some experience alongside Garbers, so his ascension to the No. 2 spot is what the coaching staff envisioned.
Glover wasn’t cleared to begin practicing until less than two weeks ago but he played in 22 games at his two previous stops at Penn and Western Carolina, giving him a built-in edge over the Bears’ younger QBs.
“He’s played a lot of college football and he’s picked it up very quickly here. He’s a very smart guy," Wilcox said of Glove in the video above. "He has experience. Maybe not here, but he has college football experience and the transition went pretty quickly for him.”
Sophomore Zach Johnson, who emerged from spring ball as the No. 2 before Glover's arrival on campus, has yet to play in a college game. He is now No. 3 on the depth chart, holding off freshman Kai Millner for that spot.
Wilcox said depending on the situation, Glover won't necessarily be the first quarterback to come off the bench. He may be the answer right now, but he won't be here a year from now when Johnson and Millner will be among those competing for the starting job.
"The game is dynamic. We’ve got to make decisions based on what’s best for our team, best for the player," said Wilcox, confirming that the coaching staff is concerned with the next game but also will be mindful of the big picture.
Cal opens its season Saturday night at home against Nevada.
One other surprise is that Kekoa Crawford, Cal's leading receiver last season, is listed as only a co-starter along with Monroe Young at one of the three wide receiver spots. The "or" between Young and Crawford on the depth chart suggests that either could be in the starting lineup for the game against Nevada.
There were really no other major surprises on the two-deep, although we got some clarity on the offensive and defensive lines.
Redshirt junior Matthew Cindric is listed as the starting center over redshirt sophomore Brian Driscoll, replacing returning starter Michael Saffell, who retired in July because of medical reasons. Cindric and Driscoll had shared first-team reps throughout camp.
Redshirt sophomore Ben Coleman, whose improvement Wilcox discusses in the video above, nailed down the left guard spot. Driscoll will serve as backup at both center and left guard and is sure to see significant playing time.
The rest of the starting O-line includes redshirt junior left tackle Will Craig, junior right guard McKade Mettauer and sixth-year senior right tackle Valentino Daltoso.
Sophomore Stanley McKenzie, a 6-foot-2, 340-pounder native of Hawaii, has won the starting nose guard spot. McKenzie suffered a tough personal loss two weeks ago with the death of his father, Tony, after a battle with COVID-19.
Sophomores Jaedon Roberts and Ricky Correia, also both 300-pounders, are listed as Nos. 2 and 3 at nose guard.
Wilcox talks in the video above about how seven or eight defensive linemen are expected to get time on the field this season.
Among them, Luc Bequette is playing his seventh season of college football and JH Tevis also brings experience. "But the rest of them haven’t played hardly at all," Wilcox said. "A got of young guys who are going to be getting their first significant game experience.”
Every other starting position on defense is as expected, with seven seniors listed as starters, including Josh Drayden at nickel.
Here is Cal's Week 1 depth chart:
Cover photo of Ryan Glover during his days at Penn by Hunter Martin
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo