Cal football will begin preparing for its 2023 season with spring practices beginning March 8, concluding with the Cal Football Spring Showcase on April 15. During these events, fans of the blue and gold are going to get a glimpse of new players coming in from the transfer portal as well as new schemes drawn up by fresh faces in the coaches room.
One of the bigger storylines coming out of last season was the firing of both the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Bill Musgrave and Angus McClure, just two games before the end of the 2022 campaign. These changes came a day after the Bears were handed their sixth-straight loss from Oregon State. After an unsavory 4-8 record, head coach Justin Wilcox tapped Jake Spavital and Mike Bloesch to fill the roles of offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, respectively.
“(Spavital)’s a really good coach, as is coach Bloesch and (tight ends coach) Tim Plough. There’s some really good football minds in there but systematically you can see why those guys have been so successful,” Wilcox said. “There’s still a lot to be determined based on our roster and learning our strengths but (it’s) been (really) enjoyable sitting in there with those guys and going through the details of installation and what it’s going to look like.”
Fans are no doubt interested to see what type of system Spavital will implement in his role as offensive coordinator. As for Bloesch, he will look to repair an offensive line that allowed 31 sacks across 12 games last season — making Cal 87th in the nation for sacks allowed. The two new additions to the staff will have to work hand in hand if they want to improve Cal’s record from the previous season.
There will be multiple new faces across the field in 2023, one of the more prominent being quarterback Sam Jackson V. The redshirt sophomore signal caller is coming from a winning culture at TCU, and looks to instill the same culture at Cal.
His athleticism has been a point of conversation since his commitment to play for the Bears, as prior to being a quarterback he played wide receiver at Naperville Central High School. Ranked a four-star dual-threat quarterback out of high school, there is much to be seen from Jackson this spring.
“During the workouts he’s a very, very athletic guy — quick twitch. I think he’s eager, as are we, to get out on the field and start playing.” Wilcox said about Jackson. “I think he’s a very talented athlete — there’s no doubt about that — and he’s a sharp kid.”
Spavital will hope to create an offense that best showcases all of the talent that Cal has on its roster, especially that of running back Jaydn Ott. Ott posted a stellar campaign as a true freshman in 2022, and is holding the proverbial keys to Cal’s future. This, however, seemingly created a power shift in the running back room, as four of the six players entered the transfer portal, leaving only two returning running backs in Ott and Ashton Stredick.
The running back room found solace in the arrival of Byron Cardwell from Oregon. The incoming third year has experience playing with a program that can win, and has proven his abilities after a stellar freshman campaign in 2021. Although his 2022 season was limited due to injury, the former four-star recruit will provide the support needed for the running back room to develop under Spavital’s leadership.
“My role at Cal is to come here and to be an agent of change, lead this team in the way that the Lord instilled in me, and just have fun, at the end of the day — if you’re not having fun then there’s no point of doing what we’re doing out here,” Cardwell said.
There is much to be seen from this revamped Cal team this spring, and many storylines to follow — will the offense deliver in 2023? Will the quarterback have time to make plays in the pocket? Will defense continue to be a staple of coach Wilcox’s style? All this will be explored across the next month and half, and fans will definitely have much to look forward to in 2023.