A pretty good-sized crowd was on hand this afternoon at Grant High School in Sacramento for Cal’s first scrimmage of the spring. It turned out to be a gorgeous day that included some notable plays and performances.
Standouts included tailback Mike Manuel, wide receiver Michael Calvin, tight end Spencer Hagan, quarterback Allan Bridgford, wide receiver Kaelin Clay, defensive end Ernest Owusu, safety Michael Coley and cornerback Marc Anthony, to name a handful.
Bridgford arguably had the best day among Cal’s quarterbacks, throwing three touchdown passes and leading the offense on a couple of efficient drives. But he played only with the second offense and only against the second defense. Brock Mansion and Zach Maynard took turns running with the first offense.
Calvin made a couple of nice catches on passes from Bridgford for touchdown catches of 38 and 30 yards. The 30-yarder wasn’t necessarily a well-thrown pass by Bridgford, but the wobbly attempt was hauled in by Calvin.
“Bridgford for the most part did a pretty good job,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “He led some nice drives and had some touchdown passes. Calvin stepped up and made a couple real nice catches. It’s always nice to have the receivers make the quarterbacks look good. That’s what happened a couple times. But he did a real nice job of running the show. He did some real nice things today.”
On one touchdown drive, Bridgford made a good throw to tight end Jacob Wark off his back foot on a rollout, then held firm in the pocket under pressure to complete a pass to Hagan. Manuel, who has been a revelation so far this spring at running back, capped the drive with a short touchdown run through a gaping hole up the middle.
Right before Bridgford’s first touchdown pass to Calvin, he made a nice throw to Terrance Montgomery, showing good timing to complete the pass before the closing defensive back could break it up. Bridgford also put a pass on the money to tight end Spencer Ladner on a crossing pattern for a touchdown. Ladner had to dive to catch it but it was a good throw and catch all around.
“I had a lot of fun out there,” Bridgford said. “I felt good out there today. I felt really good about today.”
Bridgford was obviously happy to hear the news earlier in the week tha the is part of the top three quarterbacks now taking reps.
“I’ve been working my butt off the whole offseason,” Bridgford said. “That has been my goal. That’s what I was expecting to do. I’ve been working really hard and I’m really grateful that I’m in the top three.”
Brock Mansion had a solid if not spectacular day. He did make one bad mistake when Owusu got into the backfield quickly and Mansion tried to force a quick pass that was easily intercepted by Coley. He also threw well on the run on designed rollouts, one of which ended up as a short touchdown catch after Clay made the catch, broke one tackle and reached the end zone.
Zach Maynard didn’t have a good day. He was intercepted twice. Linebacker Nick Forbes got him the first time as he threw under pressure. Later, Coley tipped one of his passes and linebacker D.J. Holt intercepted it and returned it for a touchdown. On the play immediately before that, Maynard was sacked by Owusu, prompting Tedford to firmly implore him to “throw the ball away.”
Maynard did hook up with his half-brother, wide receiver Keenan Allen, for a hefty gain over the middle under good pass protection.
Manuel continues to impress. He showed an explosive burst on a pitch sweep, gaining 35 yards. Manuel is a walk-on who the Bears recruited late in the process and brought in right before he was about to make a commitment to Cincinnati.
Manuel only played three games during his senior year at Los Alamitos High School. He originally transferred from Carson High to Banning High for his senior year but was ruled ineligible by the CIF. He had to transfer out of district to finally play. He played at Golden West Community College last season.
“He had real good tape,” Tedford said.
Owusu had two sacks and was in the backfield a couple of other times while Anthony had a good day of tackling, including a crushing hit of running back Isi Sofele on a run up the middle.
- Clay and Avery Walls took first team reps as kick returners.
- Offensive tackle Tyler Rigsbee was called for a holding penalty that negated a short touchdown run by Manuel.
- RB Trajuan Briggs lost a fumble after getting hit hard at the line of scrimmage. Walls recovered.
- Clay drew oohs and ahs from the crowd after administering a breathtaking block that laid out linebacker Steven Fanua. “I was supposed to stay with the linebacker who was over me, but I saw (Fanua) and just hit him,” Clay said. “Coach says if you make a mistake, make it full speed. So I guess it was a good mistake.”
The Bears’ next practice is on Tuesday.