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BERKELEY -- California's tailback depth got a bit more robust on Monday, as injured running back Daniel Lasco was back in the mix, albeit in a red jersey, and though the Texan's lips were a bit blue as he came off the field on a teeth-chattering Berkeley night, he was all over the field, catching passes, doing drills and even participating in offensive line work, as is his practice every Monday.
"I always work with the O-line; I try to see how I can help, especially now, since I'm not on special teams this week – I'm not sure if I'm going to be," Lasco said. "I go over there, show them some looks and it actually helps my game out a lot, just seeing how they block. I've got to be a good blocker. Coach Yenser's a great coach, so anything taken from him is going to benefit my game. If you want to be a full-time back, you've got to be able to block."
Lasco said that, if he has anything to do with it, he'll be back on the field on Saturday, bolstering the rotation of Darren Ervin (who head coach Sonny Dykes said earned more snaps after his performance against Washington) and Khalfani Muhammad.
"I'm going to be ready," said Lasco, who is averaging 42.6 yards per game – the most on the team. "I'm going to practice hard this week and make sure to get all the tweaks and minor things out of it, and keep pushing it. Right now, it's still a little sore, just being the first day back."
Lasco said his shoulder "feels good," though it was a bit stiff because it was his first day back, and not because of the cold.
"I get cold easily," he laughed. "That's why I'm wearing a jacket [under the jersey]."
Dykes said that the amount of time Lasco sees on Saturday against visiting Arizona will depend on how he responds when the red jersey comes off.
"We'll see. We've got to hit on him a little bit, see how he handles that, Dykes said. "That's the thing about running backs: He's going to get hit, so we've got to see how he can handle it."
Lasco wasn't the only back drawing attention on Monday during scout team work. After he blew through a block by running backs coach Pierre Ingram holding an agility pad, his compatriot Ervin went low and sent the first-year coach hind end-over-teakettle, drawing rave cheers from both sidelines.
"That's just RBs," Lasco smiled. "Any time we go in there, we go and handle our business, and Darren's been showing out. I'm happy that he's getting his time right now. It's nice seeing him lower his pads and do what a running back's supposed to do."
While Lasco's work with the line won't get him any time up front any time soon, Dykes said after practice that he was pleased with their performance on Saturday, despite the five sacks and 10 negative plays given up by the newly-formulated front.
"I thought they played better. I thought they did," Dykes said. "As young as that group is, I thought they did a lot of good things. I thought Chris Borrayo, especially, played well for his first start. I thought Rigsbee played well, so it was good to see those guys getting out there and competing. I liked what I saw."
On Monday, former starting left tackle Freddie Tagaloa got both first- and second-team reps at right guard, ahead of Alex Crosthwaite. Dykes said that it was for Tagaloa to get more reps, rather than him beating out Crosthwaite.
"He's making a position shift, and sometimes, that takes a little bit of time," Dykes said. "He hadn't played much guard, so it's going to be a little bit different for him at times. It's something we think he can do, and it's something we think he can do well. We think he's going to be more comfortable playing in a little bit more confined space. It's going to play to his strengths probably a little bit more than the tackle spot did. We want him to develop and get better, so we're going to continue to try and get him enough reps to let him improve and compete for that job.
"We're going to rep them both. Freddie's a talented kid. Any time you have somebody who's got talent, you always want to try and develop them and find a role for them."
Dykes also addressed the quarterback issue. Instead of bringing in Zach Kline at the end of last week's game against the Huskies (Kline went back to his standard amount of second-team reps after competing with Jared Goff on the first team last week), he brought in redshirt junior Austin Hinder.
"He's been here for four years and had never played in a game. It was really just that," Dykes said.
Dykes said following Saturday's game that Goff would likely remain the starter for the rest of the season, and circled around that assertion on Monday.
"I think you're never going to close the door on it. We'll just kind of see how it plays out. The worst thing we can do is have a quarterback who's looking over its shoulder all the time, afraid to make a mistake," Dykes said. "I think, considering that, you can draw your own conclusions, but I think that, if the circumstances warrant making a change, we'll make one."
Former running back Brendan Bigelow was in rare form on Monday, catching every uncontested ball thrown his way, and though he did fall victim to some physical coverage, he also caught a tipped ball with the offense backed up down deep for a big gain, and stayed with a tough pass over the middle by Kline for a grab.
"I think he's really getting better," Dykes said of Bigelow, who is now all but a full-time inside receiver. "I think he's playing faster and with more confidence, so I'm excited about him. We've been wanting to try to get something out of him, and I know he's been wanting to try and get some balls and some opportunities, so hopefully, those two things will come together and he'll have the opportunity to make some plays and go make them."
NOTEBOOK: Lasco Back in the Swing
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