As is typical of first day practices, QBs and WRs struggled to find chemistry, which resulted in numerous mistimed throws that gave observers ample opportunity to see who could make the tough catch. Cal commit, Bryce Treggs, defended his turf as the top WR on the West Coast by making touch catches look easy. Treggs plays with an ease that could easily leave observers mistakenly convinced he's not always giving full effort. Treggs is a smooth route runner with deceptive speed, and sticky hands, and the combination renders him a lethal weapon in the hands of a capable QB and a wide-open offense. Treggs is destined for the slot, and while not overly physical, he appears to be a tough kid who is equally at home across the middle and on deep routes. Of the receivers on display, the future Cal Bear is most certainly the playmaker of the group, and reminds this writer of DeSean Jackson, albeit a step-and-a-half slower on the field.
A mixed effort awaited JaQuay Williams on this day as he opened the morning session as the most targeted of the receivers, but fell off as the temperature rose with some silly dropped passes. Early in the day, each of the QBs seemed to find Williams the most, and he didn't disappoint pulling in several passes on quick slants that quickly resulted in a turbo-charged spurt up the field. Williams seemed to be the most at home with new QBs, and when the throws were errant, he adjusted accordingly making several nifty catches.
Perhaps it was the heat or the lunch in his belly, but Williams seemed to lose a bit of focus in the afternoon session, and the net result was dropped passes that seemed out of character for this particular athlete. One would surmise that the drops were more attributable to lack of focus than physical mistakes. All in all, Williams proved that his ability to connect with his QBs should result in a lot of good looks this week.
Nebraska pledge, Jordan Westerkamp showed he was capable of quirky brilliance, but also, unfocused effort. One two occasions, Westerkamp twisted up his defender one way before cutting it back and folding the DB up the other way. On both plays, Westerkamp broke free and made it easy on his battery mate to find him in the open field. Westerkamp's clever cut-and runs made one question whether he may be a more precise route runner than Treggs, though he doesn't play the position with the same elegance or ease.
In the afternoon session, Westerkamp suffered from the same sort of malady that affected Williams as what should have been a few easy catches found the turf, and in one incident, a half-hearted effort on a post route left observers wondering if he underestimated the arm strength of his QB. The challenge for Westerkamp this week will be to try to earn separation versus more elite defenders, and if he does, expect a very productive performance this week from this special athlete.
Malik Gilmore and Justin Ferguson did less to distinguish themselves than the previous three receivers in today's half-pace practice. Gilmore, at 6'3 200lbs, is a sizeable target but has an unorthodox gait that appears to render him a step slower, and a bit dilatory coming out of his cuts. While Gilmore showed a bit of grace during a few slick catches today, he's clearly fighting inconsistency.
Justin Ferguson seemed to disappear a bit today, which may more be the result of inaccurate QB play than effort. Ferguson is a gifted physical receiver, and so proved by leaping over a defender for a beautiful catch near the goal-line. That, however, was the only highlight of the day as Ferguson struggled to find the necessary chemistry with his QBs. One must assume that Ferguson will rebound on Saturday as play is likely to get more physical, where Ferguson's tenacious tendencies should serve him well.
Overall, the receivers today showed little brilliance, but as mentioned earlier, the first practices with new QBs nearly always results in timing issues. One would expect to see much better chemistry throughout the rest of the week, and we'll get to see if: Treggs lives up to his billing, Williams continues to be productive, Westerkamp can get the necessary separation against big time competition, and if Ferguson and Gilmore can be more effective as practices take on a more game-type feel.