GoldenBearReport - Notebook: Looking at TCU Numbers, Freshmen, and Debuts
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Notebook: Looking at TCU Numbers, Freshmen, and Debuts

It's been an interesting week here at Cal Rivals, as the Bears are set to start their bowl practices tomorrow, so we're busting out the notebook with a quick review of which of the true freshmen played, who debuted this year, along with a quick look at TCU.

Freshmen, Transfer Debuts, and Redshirts

With the new redshirt rule in effect this season, Cal was allowed to play their true freshmen in up to four games. The Bears used that time to give some playing time to fifteen different true freshmen, with only five of those passing the four game redshirt threshold: Left tackle Will Craig, wide receiver Nikko Remigio, running back Chris Brown Jr., defensive lineman Aaron Maldonado, and outside linebacker Joseph Ogunbanjo.

Aside from those five, the other ten true freshmen who appeared in games are all able to use their redshirts, and we'll run through them as follows

Nick Alftin: 3 games played, 1 tackle
Chigozie Anusiem: 2 games played
Chris Brown Jr.: 9 games played, 23 carries, 91 yards, 1 TD
McCallan Castles: 2 games played
Will Craig: 8 games played, 176 snaps at left tackle
Dario Longhetto: 2 games played
Aaron Maldonado: 7 games played, 8 tackles, 1.5 sacks, Second team all Pac-12 freshman
Erick Nisich: 1 game played, 2 tackles
Joseph Ogunbanjo: 10 games played, 3 tackles, 1 QB hurry
Ryan Regan: 1 game played
Nikko Remigio: 8 games played, 6 receptions for 41 yards, 14 punt returns for 102 yards, long of 46
Ben Skinner: 2 games played
Evan Tattersall: 3 games played, 6 tackles
Tommy Vanis: 3 games played, 1 tackle
Monroe Young: 1 game played

Of these, you could arguably say that Aaron Maldonado had the biggest on-field impact of the true freshman. His numbers look unimpressive, but he drew defenders away for other players to make plays on stunts, most notably clearing the way for Evan Weaver to take out JT Daniels twice. His teammates believe he can be an elite pass rusher from the spot as well.

Nikko Remigio and Will Craig made sizable impacts, with Remigio taking over the punt returner duties, and Will Craig showing early signs that he can be the left tackle of the future. Chris Brown also stepped up into the backup RB role, while Joey Ogunbanjo had a bit of a rough start to his career, though he got a handful of reps on passing downs for the Bears.

Redshirt Freshmen
Eleven redshirt freshmen also made their debuts for the Bears, after sitting out a year ago.
Biaggio Ali-Walsh: (already transferring) 10 games played, 4 carries for 9 yards, 1 tackle, 1 forced fumble
Henry Bazakas: 1 game played
Gabe Cherry: 1 game played
Siu Fuimaono: 10 games played, 8 tackles, .5 TFLs, 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery
Chase Garbers: 11 games played, 1413 yards, 61% completion, 14 TDs, 7 INTs, 90 carries for 398 yards and 1 TD
Chris Landgrebe: 31 touchbacks on 53 kickoffs
Collin Moore: 1 game played
Ben Moos: 5 games played, 1 tackle
Daniel Scott: 9 games played, 3 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 targeting penalty
Branden Smith: 7 games played, 2 tackles
Jake Tonges: 11 games played, two tackles

It's not hard to see that while the offense had plenty of struggles on the year, Chase Garbers was the most important true freshman. That's also in part due to the small 2017 class, which had a handful of immediate contributors in Mike Saffell, Jeremiah Hawkins, and Elijah Hicks, but also had a couple guys who would need time to develop, like Cherry or PJ Poutasi.

Landgrebe handled kickoff duties for the Bears this year, and put just under 60% into the end zone for touchbacks. The Cincinnati native is someone Charlie Ragle thinks can be a weapon for the Bears going forward in the field position game.

Transfer Debuts

Cal also had eight transfers of consequence making their on field debuts

Ian Bunting: 12 games played, 17 receptions for 191 yards
Marcel Dancy: 4 games played, 14 carries for 81 yards, 1 TD
Colt Doughty: 4 games played, 3 tackles
Brandon McIlwain: 10 games played, 763 passing yards, 62% completion percentage, 2 TDs to 8 INTs, 80 carries for 402 yards, 4 TDs
Lone Toailoa: 11 games played, 7 tackles, 1 sack
Greg Thomas: 12 games played, 12-17 on field goals, 31-31 on PATs
Moe Ways: 12 games played, 31 receptions for 346 yards and 1 TD
Deon White: 11 games, 8 tackes, .5 TFL, 1 QB hurry (mostly on special team)

Of the group, either Thomas or Ways was the most positively impactful, as Thomas was far from perfect, but hit his PATs and was decent in his first full year as starter. Ways emerged because he had to, but he was still second on the team in receiving yards.

Who Still Redshirts?

All the guys under freshman and the transfers who didn't play more than four games, along with this list

Gavin Reinwald
Robby Rowell
Steve McIntosh
Johnny Adams
Parker Bosche
Slater Zellers
Louis Bickett
JH Tevis
Sam Walker
Nick Henderson
Zach Angelillo
Miles Owens
Matthew Cindric
Jasper Friis
Brandon Mello

Mainly linemen and walk-ons, as Craig was the only one of the five to play as a true freshman. Reinwald got redshirted due to there being some depth this year, and to hopefully bulk him up a few pounds, as he'll be needed next year as one of two tight ends with experience.

Also intriguing for next year is Johnny Adams, who had a knee injury that took him out before the season even began.

Either way, there'll be developmental practices for a lot of these guys to grow in the next few weeks.

TCU Numbers, Notes and Thoughts

- This is the first matchup between Cal and TCU, with a two game series upcoming starting in 2020.

- This is the second worst record record TCU has had under Gary Patterson in the regular season, coming into this game at 6-6, they went 4-8 in 2013 and came into the 2016 Liberty Bowl with a 6-6 record

- TCU comes into this game with a similar profile to Cal, a team that averages slightly more points but also gives up slightly more, not as good as Cal at forcing turnovers, but they've also turned it over slightly less (26 Cal turnovers vs. 22 TCU turnovers)

- One anomaly from the statbook, TCU has fumbled 29 times, only losing 11. They also share some of Cal's red-zone struggles, only scoring touchdowns on 15 of 32 red zone attempts

- Much like Cal, TCU has had three different quarterbacks starting under center in Shawn Robinson, Mike Collins and Grayson Muehlstein, each to varying degrees of success. Muehlstein starting their final contest against Oklahoma State (going 16-25 for 180 yards and 2 TDs in the effort). Collins started their penultimate game against Baylor before going out for Muehlstein, along with starting the three games before that. Robinson started the first seven before a season-ending surgery took him out

- Cam Bynum gets another challenge, this time in a somewhat smaller target in Jalen Reagor. Reagor has 72 receptions for 1061 yards and 9 TDs this year, the most on the team in each category in every category by a lot

- Rushing-wise, Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua have carried the load for TCU this year, with 1039 yards on 227 carries and four touchdowns. It's an offense that will use the QB run game, Muehlstein, the likely starter, can run. That's not the biggest part of his game however, which should pare down the options for the group.

- Per PFF, the highest graded player is right tackle Lucas Niang, he's allowed 7 total pressures in 442 pass dropbacks with no sacks. Left tackle Anthony McKinney has allowed 14 pressures, 3 sacks in 299 pass blocking reps.

- Leader in tackles is Arico Evans, with 75 tackles. He's on the smaller side at 6'2" and 206 lbs and has been somewhat gettable in coverage (teams have completed 19-29 targets on him for 223 yards and a score), but he's a senior leader for the Horned Frogs. Safety Ridwan Issahaku is right behind him with 74 tackles, though PFF has him down for 16 missed tackles on the year.

- Two pass rushing threats for TCU are Ben Banogu (52 tackles, 17 TFLs, 7.5 sacks) and LJ Collier (38 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 5 sacks). TCU runs more even fronts (4 down linemen), as Banogu's the smaller DE of the two at 6'4" and 249 lbs, while Collier stands at 6'4" and 278 lbs. They have 53 and 48 QB pressures respectively. Banogu also leads TCU in defensive stops with 38.

- Jeff Gladney, their junior corner from New Boston, Texas, is their top player on PFF, only allowing receptions on 37.7% of his targets (26 of 69). He only has one interception, but he does have 13 pass breakups on the year.

Cal returns to practice tomorrow to start their bowl preparation and development, with Friday-Sunday practices for the next two weeks due to RRR week this week and finals week next week upcoming.