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BERKELEY -- If the glove fits, wear it.
That's what California freshman quarterback Jared Goff has done since last Saturday, donning a pair of throwing gloves to mitigate his fumbling problems, and boy, has it worked.
On Wednesday, Goff looked as good as he has since the season opener against Northwestern, uncorking a 30-yard touchdown pass to Brendan Bigelow early in practice, and continuing with two darts to Richard Rodgers in the back of the end zone to convert red zone opportunities, before firing a 35-yard strike over a defensive back, draped all over Bryce Treggs, for a 35-yard touchdown over the sophomore receiver's outside shoulder late in the evening.
"I think the offense has had a good week. I think they have, to me, they have practiced much more clean and much more confident, probably than they have in some time, so that's great," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "I think that, for whatever reason, it just seems like they've had a good week of practice, so as I said in the past, this team's practiced well, and we haven't always gone out and performed incredibly well, so hopefully there'll be a correlation."
Chris Harper had a banner day, and started it off in style, with his second straight 30-plus-yard, one-handed grab for a touchdown in as many days. Later, backed down deep inside the 10, Goff hit another 30-yarder to Treggs, who looked up at the last possible moment for the ball, keeping his defensive back off balance.
There were some notable changes in the NASCAR package for the Bears on defense, with former offensive tackle Matt Williams practicing for the third day at defensive tackle, after experimenting at the position earlier in the season. Williams showed great lust for contact on defense, and has said that he enjoys the excitement of defense.
"We're working him some," Dykes said. "We got a little thin at D-tackle, so he'll help us out over there, if need be."
Dykes also said that Williams could very well see action over the final four games of the season, after only seeing time on offense in one game in his career at Cal.
The defense has gotten perhaps as good a look as it can from linebacker Edward Tandy, who's split time on the second NASCAR package and simulating the nation's leading rusher Ka'Deem Carey on the scout team offense.
"He's done a good job this week. He runs tough," Dykes said. "He's pretty physical, like Ka'Deem; I don't know if he has quite the speed or quickness that Ka'Deem has, but he's physical and he's tough. He's about the closest thing that we've got."
Tandy has run well enough to at least start some discussion on the staff regarding his potential use as a third-down, short-yardage back in the future.
"We might play around with him," Dykes laughed. "You know how we do."
On the running back front, Daniel Lasco was still in red on Wednesday, but saw much more time with the first-team offense than he has the previous two days.
On this week's episode of The Drive on the Pac-12 Networks, Dykes's postgame speech to the team was shown in full, and the first-year head coach very nearly broke down into tears when talking about how hard the Bears played even when the game was out of reach.
"I think it's been frustrating for everybody. I think everybody is frustrated. I think the players are, the coaches are, everybody is, but they're working hard," Dykes said. "They continue to learn and work hard, and I think they feel like they're making progress, and it shows up at times, but we've had a penchant for giving up big plays all year. That's kind of been our problem: We'll play pretty solid defense for a while, then somebody gets out of a gap and gives up a big play and that's typical of young defenses, when you look around and you play with some young guys, you're more inclined to give up some big plays."
Redshirt freshman Cedric Dozier saw a lot of time at the corner spot opposite Kameron Jackson on the first-team defense, at a spot that's been a revolving door ever since Stefan McClure went down with a season-ending knee injury against Washington State.
"He's had a good week of practice. He's one of those guys that's just gotten better and better, and this week, he's showing up more, even," Dykes said. "That's encouraging. He's been one of those guys that we've kind of been waiting for to come on a bit, and lately, he's started to make a little bit more of a push.
"He's showed up a lot. He's practiced well. He's more confident. I think he's a young guy that's starting to get confident in his technique, and is starting to believe that he can play at this level, and when guys do that, they start triggering, and he's triggering faster. I've been really happy with him. He's a competitive kid. He's got good ball skills. He can go up and make plays on the football probably as well as any corner we have. He's got a receiver background, so I think that's kind of the strength of his game."
Elsewhere in the defensive backfield, Junior Espitia has made a move to overtake Jason Gibson as a safety on the second unit.
"He's starting to get more comfortable and figure some things out," Dykes said. "We moved Caleb Coleman to corner, too, and I think he's shown some flashes for a young guy, so I think that's a position that we didn't have a lot of depth in, so it's good seeing those guys starting to develop, and hopefully give us some depth."
Coleman has been wearing heavy dressing on his hand this week, to protect a surgically-repaired finger. His redshirt won't be burned, Dykes said, but this spring, the staff will see how the true freshman adjusts after coming in as a wide receiver.
"We'll see. It's going to be one of those things we'll look at through the spring and kind of see how he fits," Dykes said. "He's made some pretty big strides. He hasn't been there for very long and has made some strides, so as we continue to build depth in the secondary, especially some of those young guys, we see them improving and showing some signs."
WEDNESDAY: Like a Glove
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