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February 25, 2013

Spring Practice underway in Berkeley

California's 2013 Spring Practice schedule gets underway today at 4 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. GoldenBearReport.com will have extensive coverage of Cal's entire Spring, including both of Cal's Junior Days (here's the early list of Junior Day visitors ), and the Pac-12 Network-televised Spring Game. To help get you prepped, here are five things to keep an eye on as Spring ball begins:

1. Injuries and attrition
With just nine returning starters (fourth fewest in the FBS) you knew the 2013 Cal football team was going to look fairly different than the 2012 one. Well, expect Spring to look worlds different than both. Junior offensive lineman Chris Adcock, sophomore wide receiver Chris Harper, sophomore running back Daniel Lasco, junior defensive end Chris McCain, and sophomore wide receiver/tightend Richard Rodgers all had some sort of shoulder surgeries and will be out for Spring. Tailback Brendan Bigelow, wide receiver/tightend Spencer Hagan, and junior defensive end Sione Sina all had knee surgeries and will also be out for Spring. Then there's junior linebacker Brennan Scarlett, who will be out with a hand injury. Senior defensive lineman Austin Clark and sophomore linebacker Jason Gibson will also both be limited with foot injuries. Oh, and Cecil Whiteside and Dasarte Yarnway are both no longer with the program.

2. Position changes
In addition to every single tight end now being listed as a wide receiver (Listen to Sonny Dykes address tight ends being listed as wide receivers ), four other players have switched positions: junior Ted Agu, sophomore Nathan Broussard, and junior Chris McCain have all moved from linebacker to defensive end to accommodate the 4-3, while redshirt frosh Jeffrey Coprich will move from defensive back to running back to help with depth in the backfield.

3. Quarterback competition
Cal has five scholarship quarterbacks on the roster: sophomore Kyle Boehm and junior Austin Hinder, and redshirt freshman Zach Kline have yet to take a game snap, senior Allan Bridgford started three games last season to mixed results, and freshman Jared Goff, a spring enrollee fresh out of Marin Catholic High in Kentfield, will be taking part in his first Spring. According to head coach Sonny Dykes, everyone will start with a clean slate and there's no set timetable for when a quarterback will be named (Listen to him talk about the quarterback competition here ). This one is pretty wide open, but expect it to come down to Kline and Goff.

4. Running back unknowns
What very well could be Cal's top three running backs will all sit out Spring: Brendan Bigelow and Daniel Lasco with the aforementioned injuries, and Khalfani Muhammad with his senior year of high school. That leaves 5'10", 195-pound Houston-area tailback Darren Ervin and 5'7", 170-pound West Ranch High running back Jeffrey Coprich. Ervin, a redshirt sophomore out of Lamar High, played quarterback, tailback, and wide receiver as a prep, finishing with 716 yards as a senior to rank second in the 5A Region III District 20 Conference. He had nine touchdowns on 114 carries. Expect Ervin to the be the featured back during Spring ball. Coprich, who last played running back as a high school senior (Cal switched him to defensive back during last year's redshirt season), rushed for 1,277 yards and 16 touchdowns his final year at West Ranch. He broke the single-game rushing record at the Stevenson Ranch, Calif. high school with 235 yards on the ground in the first game of his senior season. Might one of the two impress enough to break into the rotation come Fall? Others who'll be in the backfield mix: walk-ons Mitchel Bartolo and Jonah Hodges, and JuCo transfer fullback Lucas Gingold.

5. The new center
Tony Franklin's offense runs through the center, who makes all of the pre-snap calls normally reserved for the quarterback (Listen to coach Dykes talk about the center, his cadence, and more here ). That makes the loss of Brian Schwenke to graduation all the more important. Schwenke's backup Chris Adcock would appear to be the most likely to replace the NFL Combine attendee, but with Adcock out with a shoulder injury, there are plenty of question marks surrounding the Bears' Spring ball-snapper.

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