Practice 8: What a Difference a Year Makes

BERKELEY -- Kyle Boehm takes over the second string as Cal opens up its eighth spring practice on Cal Day, hosting over 100 recruits.

BERKELEY – The California football team went through a low key, traditional practice on Saturday lasting only an hour and a half, after running a nearly 70-play scrimmage the day before.

"We came out and had a really long team period yesterday," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "We wanted to cut back a little bit, so we cut our special teams today which sped our practice up. We shortened periods by a minute so it wasn't really anything too significant but I was encouraged by the way we rebounded in practice today.

This was a quick turnaround for the Bears, who finished practice at 6 PM last night and were back out on the field at 7 AM for this morning's practice. Dykes said that last year, at this time, the coaches would be "begging" upwards of 10 players to practice after two straight days in pads, but this time around, the Bears are much tougher. "We couldn't have done this last year," he said.

"I thought we came out and practiced very well today." Dykes continued. "I loved the intensity, and I thought we had pop. That, to me, was a big step in the right direction, to come back and be able to have that focus and intensity."

Quarterback Kyle Boehm took over the reins as the leader of the second string, making some good deep throws, but lacking accuracy at times. The highlight of his day was a startling 50-yard run on a read option play as he took off, hit the corner and out ran the entire defense on his way to the end zone, finishing off with a stiff arm to Michael Barton.

"I love having a quarterback that can run," said offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. "It makes play calling a lot easier, so if he can get to a point where he can throw consistently, it would be fun to have that. I hope he just keeps getting better."

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Aside from Boehm, other highlights came from wide receiver's all across the field with Chris Harper and James Grisom making impressive catches often – including one snag by Harper that saw him catch the ball over the head of defensive back David Garner, with his arms on each side of Garner's head -- but Bryce Treggs was still absent from the team periods of practice, though he did do a bit more on his own during individual and one-on-one work.

"He was doing more today so I would expect him back to full speed in the middle of next week." Dykes said. "Harper is doing more and more. He had a little shoulder surgery and I don't want to set him back. It's important for him to develop in the weight room, so if we set him back, that's a potential one to two month loss in the weight room."

Dykes also mentioned the absence of tailback Khalfani Muhammad, who has a track meet later in the afternoon and did not participate in practice, although was in attendance. In his stead, Daniel Lasco had another strong day, as did Jeffrey Coprich, though both got into some dustups with Garner and Cedric Dozier during team periods.

"He's running a track meet today, it's a dual meet at 1 PM, and we might try and get over their and watch him," Dykes said of Muhammad.

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Saturday's 10 a.m. practice was also a special one as it was Junior Day with recruits from around the country coming to talk with Coach Dykes, who is hoping to secure his first commitment in the next recruiting class.

"We had over a hundred juniors here today. We had a lot of coaches and a lot of recruits so it's a big day for us. There were a lot of talented players here today." Dykes said. "They came from all over, probably five or six different states."

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The biggest highlights of the morning session included some impressive catches by Jack Austin, who caught one ball from Jared Goff on his back after being pulled down by the defender, and Chris Harper, including one twirling catch along the sideline caught next to his helmet. Goff also threw for three touchdowns in the 11-on-11 drills, with only one pick, but many balls were dropped with most right on the receivers hands.

Damariay Drew had a good day in the secondary with a few important break ups near the end zone, as Caleb Coleman tried to out do him with a few near-interceptions of his own. Stephen Anderson also looked impressive with a handful of grabs that were only inches above the turf.

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On the defensive side of the ball, Art Kaufman wasn't happy with their performance, with four sets of up-downs occurring throughout practice, mostly for the offensive line beating the defensive line in drills.

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