Talking Depth Chart with Franklin, plus VIDEO
BERKELEY -- Once again, on Wednesday, Christian Okafor split first-team reps at left tackle with starter Freddie Tagaloa, and California tailback Daniel Lasco -- who led the Bears in rushing against Ohio State last Saturday – continued to get the majority of the first-team reps, ahead of Brendan Bigelow and speedy freshman Khalfani Muhammad.
During the bye week, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin isn't messing around as Cal starts its first preparations for No. 2 Oregon next week in Eugene.
"I hope it never ends. I hope it's competition for the right reasons, but the one thing we tell our guys, is that there is nobody, ever, that has security out there," Franklin said, following head coach Sonny Dykes saying on Monday that Tagaloa was only "adequate" in his play thus far.
"If you don't play to the best of your ability, and help out our team, then we're going to find somebody," Franklin continued. "Whether they've proven it or not, we're going to find somebody to push them, and that's what we're doing. We're just trying to make sure that we're giving everybody, that everybody knows that if you're not a good player on film, and we play, and you don't do the best you can do, then somebody's going to take your job. We're going to make sure that happens."
Tagaloa responded a bit on Wednesday when he was in with the first team, but Okafor, too, hardly looked out of place, save for one or two reps where he let his eyes get out ahead of him and found himself in space with nobody to block.
"We're encouraging some guys to get better," said Franklin. "I love it when guys get beaten out. It's one of my favorite things, when somebody comes in and truly beats somebody out. We're hoping that happens at some positions. We rep two's as much as we rep one's, most of the time, and we mix and match some. Some guys come in and out. We're just trying to poke it and get everybody to be the best, and sometimes, people get lackadaisical."
Lasco – who tore off 64 rushing yards in a little over a quarter of work on Saturday – could see increased time as the Bears try to counter the high-speed Ducks attack next week.
"I thought he ran physical and hard, and that's what we'd kind of been expecting from him. That was good to see, and probably helped him get some more carries," Franklin said. "At practice, he'd showed flashes, but you don't go through the spring, and you're in the summer, you're limited, because you don't want to kill your guys in practice so you really don't know when you get in games, and you get a guy flow. But, I was really proud to see him be a physical, downhill runner, which is what we need."
As for what's caused Bigelow to drop back a bit, Franklin admits that, at least at the start of the game against the Buckeyes, he didn't put No. 5 in position to break a big run. Instead of that, Bigelow was popped by freshman defensive lineman Joey Bosa on his first carry of the game. Against a 6-foot-8 behemoth like Oregon's Arik Armstead, that won't cut the mustard.
"We probably, in their defense, it was probably just a bad scheme, by me," Franklin said. "I did a poor job scheming that play, because that looked like 12 guys hit him on that one. It did set the tone the wrong way."
Franklin – once upon a time, a running back at Murray State – knows what ails Bigelow, and perhaps why he's only averaging 4.0 yards per carry, and has 175 rushing yards after three games and 44 carries.
"The thing that he has to do, it's like everybody, because I know I was a running back, and when you've had an injury, a lot of times, it takes time, mentally, to get back from it to where you truly trust your body," Franklin said. "I know I had that issue, and I think he's getting it, but it's like everybody else. Just ‘cause you start a season off as the guy or the first guy doesn't mean you're going to finish it, and we hope that it's like that, to where we have three backs and all three of them should be No. 1."
-- Safety Alex Logan was back in uniform on Wednesday, but did not participate in practice. He was not in shoulder pads.
-- Nick Forbes did not participate in the whole practice, coming onto the field in pads midway through the session and showing no ill effects of his back injury.
-- Linebacker Johnny Ragin was in street clothes, but then pulled a jersey over his U.S. Army All-American Combine t-shirt.
-- Linebacker Michael Barton was wearing a smaller knee brace on Wednesday, and was doing some running during practice, though he was still noticeably stiff.
-- Cal used volleyballs to practice punt blocking.
-- Wide receiver Chris Harper caught balls early in practice, but then hit the east side stairs for conditioning when the team moved into skeleton, seven-on-seven and team work.
-- Quarterback Jared Goff showed no signs of rust after taking light duty on Tuesday, hucking a 45-yard bomb to Bigelow for a touchdown during seven-on-seven, then finding Maurice Harris for a 35-yard over-the-shoulder job against Joel Willis, with defensive backs coach Randy Stewart yelling "Why, why, why, why?"
-- Goff's third TD came on a jump ball to the back left corner of the end zone to Bryce Treggs, who went up for the pass against his old nemesis Kameron Jackson. The two locked horns in mid-air, and continued jockeying for the ball on the ground, but Treggs came out on top.
-- Defensive tackle Deandre Coleman was very ordinary for much of the day, with two NFL scouts in attendance, from the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.
-- Stewart admonished Jason Gibson for lack of eye discipline on a pass, and during a drill designed to teach the defensive backs how to get off of receiver blocks, defensive coordinator Andy Buh had Gibson repeat the drill about five times back-to-back until he got it right, all the while exhorting the former linebacker to be more physical.
"You've got to be mean, Gibby!" Buh yelled.
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