Day Six: Frosh WRs stand out

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BERKELEY -- With his two kinsmen -- Keenan Allen and Maurice Harris -- out of practice on Thursday due to a summer school paper, California starting quarterback Zach Maynard had a bit of adjustment to make. He had to find the youngsters.
"It's good -- it's actually good," Maynard said. "It's a good chance to throw to other receivers and get a good feel for them, as well - what types of routes they like to run, how they come out on certain breaks. It was a little bit harder today, but it was a good job for us today."
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One of the standouts among the five true freshman wide receivers was Cedric Dozier, who saw time both in the slot and out wide. Dozier showed great feet and very precise route-running, along with some particularly sticky hands.
Other freshmen who impressed were Bryce Treggs, Chris Harper and Darius Powe.
"It's kind of hard to tell with this offense, because coach Tedford's offense is so complex, but once we do offensive stuff, then we can see how they really work," Maynard said. "One-on-ones, all of them are doing a great job getting off the ball. They all have that Division I athletic ability and capability."
Treggs and Harper both took second-team reps, and Harper showed good footwork and a very smooth, gliding stride. Treggs took one pass in early team 11-on-11 work three yards out and dragged defenders for a gain of seven. Later in the same segment of practice, Treggs took a 12-yard out, shook his defender and gained 15 yards on the right sideline.
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In one-on-ones, Powe straight-up beat safety Avery Sebastian on a skinny post and caught a long rifle shot from freshman quarterback Zach Kline. On the next play, Dozier put a dizzying double-move on Matt Mayes, but saw the pass sail wide. Immediately afterwards, Harper went up against No. 1 cornerback Steve Williams on a post, pushing to the outside for the shake and the catch.
Powe and Sebastian matched up again in goal line situational drills, with the big freshman curling around the sophomore safety, then leaping high into the air on a fade route to haul in a touchdown in the back right corner of the end zone.
After that, Harper juked safety Michael Lowe inside and drifted back out to the back right corner for a scoring strike from Maynard.
Sebastian got a measure of redemption two snaps later, stripping Stephen Anderson on a crossing route in the back of the end zone.
Powe then victimized Lowe on a fade route from Allan Bridgford in the back right corner of the end zone, not even having to jump to snag the ball over the head of the redshirt sophomore.
Treggs finished up the period with a reach-to-the-sky leaping catch in the back left corner for a touchdown.
"Some of the young receivers -- Harper is doing a nice job, and Treggs is coming on," Tedford said.
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In the second set of team 11-on-11 work, Harper launched himself into the air for a circus catch with fellow freshman Willie Fletcher on his back for a 40-yard bomb from quarterback Austin Hinder.
Tedford has been particularly pleased with the progress of the redshirt sophomore signal-caller, who has displayed much more calm and poise as he enters his third year in the system. Hinder and Kline have split third team reps behind Bridgford and Maynard.
"Austin Hinder looks really good," Tedford said. "He's a different guy. I think his knowledge of the game, he's playing much more confidently, much more comfortable. He's throwing the ball with authority. He understands what's going on. I've been pleased with him, so far."
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With grandfather Jim Hanifan a former NFL coach, Hinder's study habits and abstract understanding of the game have always been top-notch, as have his leadership skills, but in the practices open to the media, Hinder finally looks comfortable under center, making reads, using his legs and even changing the play at the line of scrimmage.
"He's had a lot to learn," Tedford said. "Now, you can tell that he feels more comfortable with the system, because he's athletic. He can run, he's got a good arm, but before, I think it was a little bit of paralysis by analysis -- thinking too much and not letting his gifts really show. Now, he is. He's cutting it loose, he's throwing with authority, throwing the ball with confidence. I think he feels pretty good about what's going on, but he still has a lot to learn."
With both Treggs and Powe out wide during 11-on-11 work, Hinder broke free along the outside for a gain of 10.
While Maynard and the rest of the quarterbacks had a bevy of receivers to choose from on Thursday, midway through practice, projected starting tight end Richard Rodgers went down in a heap on a crossing route, clutching his left arm. He did not return to practice.
"My two security blankets not here, and Rich going down as well, it's kind of hard," Maynard sighed. "Hopefully, he's OK. I think he just jammed his finger when I threw the ball to him, so I'm sure he's alright."
Tedford did not go into detail, saying that Rodgers was "fine," though he was unsure whether the 6-foot-5, 270-pounder would practice on Friday.
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"He's fine," Tedford said. "It's nothing serious. He'll get treatment, and we'll see. You don't ever want to rush anything that gets sore when there's no real need. It's nothing major."
Before he went down, though Rodgers beat defensive back Tyre Ellison down the field on the left sideline for a 25-yard catch from Bridgford in team 11-on-11s. Later on, Rodgers beat safety Josh Hill to haul in a rifle shot from Maynard, drawing the pass interference call.
-- Kline showed his trademark big arm throughout the day, though he did run into some trouble against the top two secondary units upon occasion. Kline was at his best when he could really let loose and fire darts to his receivers in goal-line situational work. Kline fired a clothesline to tailback Brendan Bigelow -- who had a big day in his own right - in 7-on-7 work, and showed good touch down field.
-- Bridgford also showed good zip, particularly on a laser beam to Bryce McGovern on a skinny post.
In one-on-one goal-line work, McGovern put up a physical battle with Isaac Lapite and won a jump ball for a touchdown in the back right corner. McGovern proved to be a nice safety valve for all the quarterbacks, rarely mis-playing a ball. McGovern also served as the second holder on special teams.
-- Tedford confirmed that former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino visited campus recently.
"It happened a few weeks ago," Tedford said. "We just talked ball. We talked X's and O's. That's about it."
-- After two days in pads, the Bears will go in helmets on Friday in order to rest up a bit from the pounding.
"Two hard days of hitting like that, we'll back off a little bit tomorrow and do a lot of situational stuff. More mental things tomorrow. I'm really pleased with the way they're working. A lot of good things. A lot of learning going on, on tape. The tempo is really good and guys are working hard."
-- McGovern wasn't the only veteran receiver to have a solid day on Thursday. Ross Bostock and Jackson Bouza showed dependable hands, as did Anderson, who -- at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds -- was a solid approximation of both Allen and Harris, with one notable highlight being a down-the-line screen catch with the first team. Bouza and Anderson served as the receivers in the 21 personnel group, with Rodgers and Spencer Hagan as the tight ends and Isi Sofele at tailback.
"They have a pretty good grasp of what's going on out there," Tedford said. "Another guy who's showing up is Grisom -- James Grisom. He's doing a really nice job. No. 85 -- Ocho Cinco -- that's his nickname. He's showing up. He's quick, he's fast, he's doing a nice job. I'm really pleased with his action."