BERKELEY -- Over the past two days, California tailback Brendan Bigelow was a fidgety, twitching kid on a sugar rush, but forced to stay in his naughty corner because of a ding to the noggin suffered during Saturday's season opener.
On Wednesday, all that pent up wiggle was on full display, and though the junior speedster isn't entirely, completely cleared for action – as evinced by the red jersey stretched over his shoulder pads – he got the ball early and often in every facet of the offense, catching the ball out of the backfield, split out and of course, running both between the tackles and on the edge.
"He moved around good, looked fresh, looked fine," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "We're anxious to see how he plays Saturday."
Bigelow got stronger as the day went on, catching a humpback pass from Jared Goff for a 15-yard gain during scout team work towards the latter third of practice.
Wednesday also saw some notable plays from Jeffrey Coprich, who, like Bigelow, looked very strong both running and catching the ball out of the backfield, with a heads-up catch on a pass underneath from Zach Kline during 11-on-11s against the second defense.
Dykes said that, behind Bigelow, Daniel Lasco and Khalfani Muhammad, Coprich would be the next man up.
"He's actually practiced really well," Dykes said. "I think he's a guy that's deserving of getting some carries. [Darren] Ervin and Coprich I think could carry the load. I think both of them can do some good things. Coprich has looked good in practice and he's a guy we've talked a little bit about, trying to find a way to get him involved, because he's doing some good things, and same thing with Darren."
After being limited on Tuesday, wide receiver Chris Harper was back in full effect on Wednesday, making a stretching grab with both hands on a 10-yard out route against the scout team defense, showing no ill effects of his banged up shoulder.
"I don't think there's much to [the shoulder]," Dykes said. "I think he's going to be sore from time to time, but I don't think there's going to be any lingering problems."
On Tuesday, No. 2 Z receiver Kenny Lawler collided with safety Damariay Drew at the 10-yard line on a red zone back-shoulder fade, and Lawler hit the deck, wobbling his way off the field. On Wednesday, Lawler was not in attendance. Both he and defensive end Chris McCain were held out for precautionary reasons, due to taking contact to the head on Tuesday. Both are expected back on Thursday.
With Lawler out, Maurice Harris moved over to the Z spot, with true freshman Jack Austin -- who had previously been on the scout team offense – moving to the No. 2 X along with Drake Whitehurst.
"We can move those guys around, depending on what's happening with Kenny," Dykes said. "Drake would probably be the No. 2 X, but we'll see what's going on with Jack and where Kenny is and what he's doing. We'll let that stuff play out."
Austin made the most of his opportunity with the offense. During 7-on-7 work against the second-team defense, Kline delivered a deep post to Austin over the top for about 35-40 yards. The ball fluttered a bit, and it didn't look like Kline got a lot on it, but Austin slowed up and was able to catch it without having to come back, which allowed him to get a few more yards after the catch. Austin also reeled in a low throw from Goff for 15 yards over the middle, sliding between the hashes to secure the ball.
"He's had a good camp," Dykes said of Austin. "He's a kid that would probably, quite frankly, be playing in a lot of places. We have a lot of depth right now at receiver, and didn't want to waste a year, but he's capable, he's mature, he's physical, does a lot of good things, very consistent. He's a guy that we'd feel comfortable with, if we had to play him."
Dykes said that there is "nothing new" with defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil, who was not in pads on Wednesday. He still has some pain in his knee, and will go to the doctor this week.
"All he has to do is feel comfortable," Dykes said. "There's nothing medically holding him back, other than some pain."
Dykes said that linebacker Nick Forbes is in roughly the same situation as Jalil.
"It's just pain," Dykes said. "He's cleared to play, it's just can he work through it and go."
With no end in sight to the plights of Forbes and defensive end Brennan Scarlett, Dykes said earlier in the week that some decision will have to be made soon as to whether to shelve those players. Scarlett still has a redshirt year. Forbes does not.
"A lot of it depends on how they feel, and are they starting to make some progress; That's what we have to wait on," Dykes said.
If pain from Forbes' disc issue does not subside, he would be in a position to potentially have to apply for a sixth year of eligibility after his redshirt senior season.
"It's not at all [a certainty]," Dykes said. "What has to happen is he has to lose two years to medical issues."
Cal's fake field goal touchdown on Saturday, Dykes said, was practiced nearly 100 times during the week, but not during regular practice. The man who caught that pass from Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week Vincenzo D'Amato -- senior Jackson Bouza -- said on Tuesday that the team used a beach volleyball to rehearse the play.
"We practiced it primarily during walk-throughs, Dykes said. "We were getting a lot of practices filmed, and we didn't want them to see it on the Internet somewhere, so we did it during our walk-throughs that we had in the mornings. We didn't ever practice it with a football ... We can't practice with a football. It counts as a practice if you practice it with a football, so sometimes you're allowed to use a volleyball, sometimes socks, tape balls. We asked about rugby balls, but they said it was too much like a football."
If you think the Bears won't use that play again, because now it's out for all to see, you'd be wrong.
"There'll be opportunities when we'll play somebody that we'll use that, or something similar," Dykes said. "That's part of the reason you fake something early in the season, is because it slows people down a little bit and makes them a little bit more sound when they're rushing, takes the pressure off of your guys."
Dykes said that the team has put no thought to next week's opponent – No. 3 Ohio State – during this week's prep.
"None. Not even any one-tenth of one percent," Dykes said.
Former Cal defensive lineman Trevor Guyton was in attendance at practice, and was at Saturday's game. Guyton is back at school, finishing his degree.
Odds and Ends
Linebacker Jalen Jefferson had another nice day at SAM linebacker. During team 11-on-11s with the first-team offense going against the first-team defense in the red zone, Jefferson stuck Muhammad on the left edge for no gain after Khairi Fortt over-pursued by just a step.
On the next play, Goff then looked for Bryce Treggs in the end zone from the eight-yard line, but saw his pass broken up by Kameron Jackson.
True freshman corner Darius Allensworth came up with a nice pick on Kline during 12-on-11s.
Kline did deliver a nice 15-yard touchdown on a back-shoulder fade from 15 yards out to Harris, over Adrian Lee, off the play-action.
There was a lot of Lucas Gingold on Wednesday, as the fullback not only caught passes out of the backfield, but also plowed the way for some big runs and even carried the ball several times.
Running backs coach Pierre Ingram is not short of praise when talking about his bulldozer.
"He's definitely a factor on this team. He's done it in a way where he doesn't have to talk about it," Ingram said. "He shows through his actions. That's the kind of kid you want in that position of fullback, and that's pretty cool, because not a lot of people know that we play with a fullback."
With Avery Sebastian out (with surgery on his torn Achilles scheduled for Thursday), the starting safety duo was Alex Logan and Michael Lowe, with Damariay Drew getting hefty reps, as well.
Former outside linebacker Jason Gibson continues to improve at safety, and was particularly stout against the bone formation, stopping Coprich twice for no gain.
Also against the bone, redshirt freshman Michael Barton and Drew showed up well against Ervin, halting the redshirt sophomore after two yards in the red zone, with Barton wrapping up the legs and Drew finishing off the tackle. Barton made two big stops in first-team 11s down inside the defense's 15-yard line.
Senior tackle Matt Williams got some second-team reps at left tackle, but Brian Farley got the lion's share with the second unit. Farley had a forgettable day in OL-DL work, getting bulldozed by a tag team of Ted Agu and Gabe King on one rep, and then falling victim to Agu just a few reps later.
Hawaii transfer Trevor Davis ran with the second team against the second defense in seven-on-seven, hauling in a drag route on a throw from Kline, who double clutched and checked down to find the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder.
Kline then dropped a 30-yard bomb into the outstretched arms of the 6-foot-6 Whitehurst on a streak, over the top of Lee.
Defensive ends Todd Barr and Kyle Kragen each came up with sacks in 11-on-11s
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