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BERKELEY -- In California's first of two fully-padded days of practice this week, the Bears in the trenches got quite a workout. Aaron Cochran won several reps against talented edge rusher Jonathan Johnson, but showed some difficulty with lateral movement. Jordan Rigsbee and Chris Borrayo were nails on the interior, though Rigsbee did have two very poor snaps later in practice during full 11-on-11 team work, forcing quarterback Jared Goff to improvise down on the goal line.
"We've got to get that fixed," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "I think that's probably a by-product of him getting a little tired. It happened to us at times last year. When he wore down, he had a tendency to have bad snaps. We've got to make sure he's in shape and make sure he's doing the right things."
Kyle Boehm for a short touchdown run in team work during the first half of practice, halting crashing linebacker Michael Barton.
Boehm got a lot of action with the second-team offense, running and passing out of the standard offensive set and the bone. On one bad snap by Rigsbee, Boehm was able to salvage the play by handing the ball off to Austin Harper for a short touchdown.
Harper had an inconsistent day after two sparkling practices in a row, with some ball security issues and his size very much showing against the first-team defense.
Boehm saw a lot of time in team 11-on-11 work on Wednesday, more than he's seen in quite some time, and flashed his arm a few times, but at other points was very inconsistent in the accuracy department.
During the last round of team 11-on-11s, Boehm had Stephen Anderson -- no longer in a red jersey – wide open down the east sideline, but badly underthrew the ball.
As powerful a runner as Boehm is, he was a bit indecisive down deep, hesitating on the two-yard line instead of taking the front corner of the end zone for what would have been an easy score had he committed right away.
"He needs to perform enough for us to come up with a package," Dykes said. "I think that's the thing that, last year, he did at times -- he ran the ball pretty well. He's a pretty physical downhill runner, so we want him to develop a little more as a quarterback, so we can expand the package a little bit more, and run a little bit of traditional offense with him, so that when he goes in the game, it's not always just going to be quarterback run stuff. We need for him to improve enough to where we can feel comfortable with him going into the ballgame."
One thing in common between the offensive line and the running back corps as spring ball neared its midway point is the fact that both are fairly short-handed, with Matt Cochran, Erik Bunte (who now is going by Myles Bunte) and Chris Adcock unavailable in the trenches, while Khalfani Muhammad is limited due to track obligations and Daniel Lasco is still working back from injury.
"We're just trying to hold it together, from an injury standpoint," Dykes said. "It looks like Lasco's starting to get a little more involved. Khalfani was out there today and was pretty limited in what he did. We're just trying to kind of get through right now."
Reinforcements, though, are coming, and one was on the sideline during Wednesday's practice in the person of John Porchivina, who found out during meetings earlier in the day that he'll be playing running back instead of linebacker next season.
Jeffrey Coprich had several nice runs, including a knifing 25-yarder on the last set of team 11-on-11s.
The first-team line has been fairly consistent and solid through the first six practices, with Borrayo proving to be perhaps the most dependable.
[PREMIUM VIDEO: OL vs. DL One-on-Ones]
Snapping issues don't start and end with Rigsbee, though. Redshirt freshman J.D. Hinnant has been inconsistent, at best, and the return of both Adcock and Matt Cochran could go a long way towards stabilizing the position behind Rigsbee.
"They're obviously a lot better," Dykes said of the line as a whole. "They know what they're doing. We're having some continuity in some spots. There's a semblance of depth. We still have some guys that aren't doing much right now. But, there's some guys that know what to do. I think we're a year stronger in the weight room. I think we're a year more physical. I think we're in a year better shape, so there's a lot of positives. We're going to need to get some guys back. We're going to need to get Cochran back. We're going to need to get Adcock back. Those two are going to be big for us. Myles Bunte's out right now, so we need to get him back from a depth standpoint. It's been good to see Aaron Cochran and Vinnie and JD and some of those young linemen improving. Borrayo has been a real stabilizing force for us at left guard. He's performing at a high level. We've just got to get some stuff cleaned up, up front, but I think it's got a chance to be a group that is going to play tough and can develop some continuity if we can get some depth issues worked out."
Caleb Coleman had several big plays in the secondary, starting with a good play against recruiting classmate Jack Austin. During early 7on work, Coleman came hard on Austin, who clearly heard footsteps, dropping a strike from Goff. Austin had earlier turned in a diving grab in the front of the end zone for a touchdown, drawing praise from offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.
Coleman later turned in a big interception on Austin Hinder on the east sideline in the second set of full team 11-on-11s, going full-extension to pick the ball out of the air.
"He's working hard. It's obviously new to him," Dykes said of Coleman, a converted wide receiver. "He's a really good athlete. He can run, he can change direction. I think, at times, it gets a little overwhelming for him, just because it is new, and it's a pretty big position switch, when you switch sides of the football. It's a work in progress, but I think he's got a lot of upside. He keeps getting better and better and working hard. He's a good athlete. He'll end up being a good player for us. How quickly is that going to be? It's hard to say."
Cameron Walker also turned in an interception on a Hinder screen pass.
Linebacker Jalen Jefferson also notched in a key turnover, forcing and recovering a fumble from the two-yard line and rumbling in for a score.
The competition level has certainly turned up this spring, compared to a year ago. Bad series by offense and defense are punished with up-downs, as the defense demonstrated early on, not getting to Goff quickly enough during the first, modified set of full-team 11-on-11s, which saw the quarterbacks punting instead of throwing.
Wide receiver Chris Harper was back among the living, though he wore a red no-contact jersey.
After Goff hit a hump-back liner to Kenny Lawler in the front of the end zone for a touchdown, Goff went to Harper with the same ball and the same result shortly thereafter.
"He hasn't been practicing. He got in red today and did a little bit more," Dykes said. "He did pass skel, so he's progressing back with us a little bit more. That's why he had the red jersey on."
Bryce Treggs -- still recovering from a hamstring issue – was not in red, but did some individual work on the sidelines.
"[He'll be back] probably end of the week, first part of next week, I'm guessing," Dykes said. "He did some individual stuff today, but he's still pretty limited as far as team stuff."
As precise a route-runner as Treggs is, and as diligent a worker, he can ill afford to miss the rest of spring, as had been suggested, because of his move to the inside.
"Well, he's playing a new position, so all these reps are important," Dykes said. "Really, they're important to all of us. That's the thing about where we are right now – we're not coming off of a 10-win season or something, where we could feel pretty good about where we are. We've got to get better, and there's got to be a sense of urgency, so I think every practice – every rep – is important for us.
Defensive coordinator Art Kaufman worked quite a bit with the linebackers during Wednesday's practice, and his relationship with Dykes appears to be blossoming.
"We think the same. I think we both have the same approach to teaching and coaching and what the game's about, from a simplicity standpoint, and a focus on fundamentals," Dykes said. "I think we share that, so when you hire somebody, you always think you have a lot in common, and typically you find out there's less than you anticipate, but with Art, it's been more than we anticipated. I think we're on the same page, and I feel good about it."
Defensive lineman Jacobi Hunter missed his second practice with what Dykes said was a "personal deal."
"He's going to be gone for probably a couple of [practices]," Dykes said.
The first-team defense consisted of Brennan Scarlett, Harrison Wilfley, Marcus Manley and Puka Lopa on the defensive line; Maximo Espitia, Barton and Jefferson at linebacker; and Vachel Samuels, Griffin Piatt, Coleman and Michael Lowe in the defensive backfield.
Lopa was held up twice notably on the day, stopped by Aaron Cochran on a bad snap that resulted in an under-thrown pass to Lawler 30 yards down field by Hinder and having his spin move neutralized by left tackle Steven Moore during full 11-on-11s.
Scarlett had a notable rep in 11-on-11s, pushing right tackle Christian Okafor all the way back and into Goff for what would have been a sack under game conditions, but instead resulted in an incomplete pass.
The second-team defense consisted of Cedric Dozier, David Garner, Trevellous Cheek and Darius Allensworth in the defensive backfield, with Edward Tandy, Ray Davison and Drew Bryant at linebacker and a defensive line of Tony Mekari (who had a very strong day) and Trevor Kelly on the inside, with Johnson and Kyle Kragen on the ends.
Spring Practice 6: The Big Uglies
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