Football: Saturday report

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.

More highlights:

  • 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.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • bobsac

    Great afternoon at Grant H.S. here in the Big Tomato. We got there early & were warmly greeted by a happy Jeff Tedford. I predict we saw history in the making with Allan Bridgford having a breakout scrimmage on his march to be the next Cal QB. He throws downfield, & puts the ball up there giving the receiver a chance to make a play. Some of his passes were not perfect, but they sure got results. Given that he was out all season with an injury & this was only about the 5th practice of the spring, very impressive.

    All Contra Costa & Alameda county Cal fans should get to the April 30 scrimmage at San Ramon. The Cal AD should do a much better publicity job advertising the San Ramon scrimmage than the virtually non existant job they did for us folks up here in the Big Tomato.

  • rotfogel

    I’m starting to get excited about Bridgeford…is that a bad thing? It has been in the past.

    I’m surprised Briggs isn’t doing better.

  • anthony

    Considering the company, Rotfogel, may i ask whence the handle? You don’t seem to a a sock-puppet, so why such imagery?

  • c98

    uh-oh Trajuan Briggs… Many times over the years I remember: you hear about some stud running back, then you hear about him fumbling, then you don’t hear about him anymore. Tedford, even more than most coaches, doesn’t like running backs who fumble.

    Mike Manuel was about to sign w/ Cincinati when we snapped him up. I always thought next year would end up CJ/Bigelow. Maybe it’s going to be MM/Bigelow.

  • c98

    Re: “sign w/Cincinnati”,

    No idea if he would have been a walk-om there too. I’m guessing yes.

  • milo

    I’m guessing Mike Manuel will get a full ride pretty soon, making him a former walk on.

    Great news on Brigford, lets hope he’s the guy.

  • LR

    I don’t think fumbling is Briggs’ biggest issue. Lynch used to fumble, and I believe Arrington or Forsett before him. Those 3 seemed to turn out alright for Cal.

  • Bears

    Maynard not looking good is a concern but at least it’s still early. Great that AB looks promising but he has a long way to go before Sept 3rd.
    Need all our QB upping their game!
    CDJ is an upper class RB and needs to step up or the other RB’s will pass him up.
    Briggs and Yarnway need to get healthy and produce or they will be passed up too.
    Great competition at RB and QB by this fall.
    Love that.

  • Scott

    I went to my second open practice in Sacramento yesterday. Bridgford showed the same cool demeanor and strong arm that I saw at the first open practice at Laney. Pocket collapsing, he calmly waited until the last second to throw a great pass to an open TE Hagen on the sideline for a big gain. The guy is just so loose and relaxed in the huddle; it looks like he has the “it” factor that really good QBs have. BTW, Mansion looks like he really stepped up his game, too. I’m starting to think Cal will have at least 2 solid QBs by the season’s start. Good days head, Cal fans!

  • c98

    Scott: I like the sound of that. We haven’t seen much of “it” around Strawberry Canyon in way too long (except when that Lucky junior university architect visits).

  • wehofx

    I’m liking what I’m hearing about AB. Also hope Mansion does get a chance to redeem himself.

    Manuel’s story reminds me of Forsett’s under the radar path here and look how that turned out.

    If you tweet, JO’s tweets are a great way to get a fix. Highly recommend.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    You guys sound like you are an 8th place finisher. Not much to be excited about.

  • Nor-Cal Scott

    Bobsac brings up an excellent point. Why has Cal Athletics not publicized these open practices? Not even to us season ticket holders! Heck, I live within an hours drive of Grant HS and would think it would be a no-brainer to do a email blast to all season ticket holders by zipcode within “x” miles.

    With no Cal Day slash Spring Practice due to no stadium because of the construction you’d think the department would be a bit more customer friendly.

    With all of the other emails Cal sends me you’d think one more wouldn’t be that difficult.

  • Raf

    @Nor-Cal and Bobsac

    Sandy Barber thank you for your time… or lack thereof.

  • t0ast

    Its great to see Manuel step up. Gould will make him a star. That in turn will take pressure off the QB and the passing game somewhat. Pound the ball early in the season to take some pressure off whoever is QB to get up to speed. Go Bears!

  • We do not sound like an 8th place team but a 9th place team.5th in the northern division.My 4 seasom tickets will not be used nor will the 4 at the stick.

  • BlueNGold

    Hey Steve- You should donate those tickets to some real fans of Cal football. Someone who might actually enjoy watching the team play. Sorry that you do not fit that description.

    P.S.- Don’t step in the troll droppings on your way out.