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BERKELEY -- California junior defensive end Chris McCain did not play at all in the second half for the Bears during Saturday's 55-16 loss to No. 2 Oregon, but head coach Sonny Dykes -- speaking for the first time on McCain's dismissal – said that his removal from the team due to "detrimental conduct" was not related to that removal from the playing field.
That said, Dykes did admit that there was a precipitating incident, though he declined to reveal just what that was.
"There was, but it's nothing that we want to talk about. I told him I wouldn't discuss it, so I'm not going to," said Dykes. "[It] just wasn't one thing. It was a series of things that dated back for a while."
While McCain is still on scholarship and still in school, he will no longer participate in any team activities, and it wasn't a decision that Dykes came to lightly.
"Any time that you do that, that's a very difficult decision, because it has an impact on a young person's life," Dykes said. "It's a very difficult decision to make, and you have to make it, and you have to make it very judiciously, and do your due diligence and make sure that you're making the right decision, but it's something we felt like we needed to do, so we made it and we're moving forward."
According to Dykes, outside receivers coach Rob Likens and defensive ends coach Garret Chachere ("They just kind of rolled with it," Chachere said), no players brought up McCain's departure after it was announced to them on Sunday.
"I notified them on Sunday, and explained to the players why we did it, and there wasn't any feedback, good or bad," Dykes said.
Practically speaking, the Bears are now even thinner on defense than they already were. Though the two defensive end spots are deep – relative to other spots on defense – McCain's dismissal still leaves a hole that needs to be filled.
"The kids look at it as ‘Next man up,'" Chachere said. "The thing is, is that I think it was a decision that coach Dykes didn't make lightly, and it wasn't one particular thing. It was just a decision, that, when you run a program, you have to make decisions that you feel are in the best interests of the program, and so from that standpoint, I support any decision coach Dykes makes. It's his program, so whatever he feels is right, I totally support that."
Both Kyle Kragen and Puka Lopa have subbed in for McCain over the first four games, and Lopa was particularly impressive on Monday during practice, notching an early break-up at the line against redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Kline.
"What I see out of Puka is what I've seen out of him from Day One, and that is a situation where he runs full speed, he goes full speed, he goes hard, he loves playing the game, and that shows in the way he plays," Chachere said. "He's got an exuberance and a passion about the game that, as a coach, makes you smile and makes you glad that he plays for you. He's a pleasure to coach because of that exuberance and because of that passion. I have all the confidence in the world in Puka, and he's taken the steps on his own to become a better player through film study and through classroom work, and so when you combine those two things: His passion and his high speed and playing football with a knowledge of the game, that he's thirsting for, makes you excited as his coach."
With McCain gone and Brennan Scarlett still on the shelf, it's likely that Dan Camporeale is at the end position to stay, with others like Todd Barr and Antione Davis likely getting into the mix on both sides, as well.
"From a position standpoint, Chris was someone who played a lot of snaps here at Cal, but we've recruited guys that have come in here to play," Chachere said. "They haven't come in here to sit. So, now, it may be someone else's chance to get those snaps, or those snaps may be divvied up amongst other guys who are already playing. I look at it as, when the situation like this arises, we're going to look at it the same way as someone who had a season-ending or career-ending injury. Someone has to step up and take over those snaps that maybe wasn't in the rotation, or it has to be divvied up amongst people already in the rotation."
IN-DEPTH: Dykes, Chachere on McCain Fallout
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