BERKELEY -- Despite California’s season-opener against Northwestern being just five days away, the Bears still haven’t quite finalized their 72-man travel roster.
“It’s in the works,” said head coach Sonny Dykes. “We’re not completely sure yet. It’s going to depend on some of the stuff that happens this week.”
Dykes said that the staff has gotten about 68-69 spots secured, but are still waiting on a couple, including safety Avery Sebastian.
“It depends on how he does this week,” Dykes said of his safety, who’s still dealing with soreness from a pulled quadriceps muscle. “He moved around good today. I would say, based on what I saw today, yes.”
Dykes said that the staff thinks Sebastian’s quad should be fine by game time, but it’s still a wait-and-see.
“He tried to come back and go early, and was probably not quite ready yet, so that set him back a little bit,” Dykes said. “Any time you miss practice, it has an effect on development. The good thing is, I saw him out there today, working. He was going to do what he was going to do today, and it looked like he was able to do pretty much everything, so we’ll see. We’ll see what kind of week he has, and if there is enough rust knocked off to feel like he can help us, and is he healthy enough to help us, and we’ll take it from there.”
Corneback Darius White is also “potentially” on the bubble, though he did practice on Monday.
“We’ll see what kind of week he has and what kind of contact he can get and how he holds up,” Dykes said. “He looked good. We’ll just see how he progresses.”
Offensive center Chris Adcock said, in his estimation, the offensive line depth is “pretty firm.”
“We have a pretty good idea of what we’re doing, but we’re going to try and play as many O-linemen as we can with coach [Tony] Franklin, so we’ll see where that kind of settles out,” Adcock said. “We have eight or nine guys, I think, who we’re comfortable playing with.”
Adcock has stayed healthy throughout fall camp, and rarely needed any rest or time off, after spending the past year rehabbing a severe knee injury.
“Rehab was kind of the same way; I kind of would push the envelope and was always making sure it didn’t hurt anywhere it wasn’t supposed to hurt, so I never had any major setbacks,” Adcock said. “It wasn’t that I expected to be this well off, but it’s nothing new.”
One thing the Bears didn’t have last year against the Wildcats was a functional run game. Early in the game, Northwestern was back on its heels in fear of the same Brendan Bigelow who torched Ohio State the year before, but that Bigelow never arrived, and in the second half, the Wildcats were able to be more aggressive against the pass. Adcock figures this Saturday will be different.
“The O-line loves the run game, so I think we’re really excited about it,” Adcock said.
The veteran center also offered his estimation of the defense: Is their improvement an illusion, or reality?
“I don’t know specifics – I can’t really get into that – but I like where we’re at, right now, and I feel a lot more comfortable that they’re going to do some good things.”
Dykes said that Monday’s full-pads practice was full of a “renewed enthusiasm,” now that the game is approaching.
“They have a little bit more of a focus, which you would expect, which is good,” Dykes said. “Hopefully that’ll ramp up as the week progresses, but today was a good day. We got a lot of work done, and I thought it was a good Monday, a good start to the week.”
During the rest of the season, Cal won’t practice on Mondays, but this week, the Bears got into full pads for what Dykes called a “Tuesday practice,” to start the week.
“We’ll do a Tuesday practice, then have a Wednesday practice on Tuesday and then two Thursday practices – one Wednesday, and one Thursday,” Dykes said.
Monday and Tuesday will both be padded days, while Wednesday and Thursday will be lighter, shorter affairs, with the team leaving swiftly after their Thursday session to fly out to Chicago.
“We want to get the opportunity to get our guys fresh, so hopefully they’ll play fast on Saturday,” Dykes said.
Officials for Saturday’s game will be from the Big Ten conference.
Dykes does not anticipate a repeat of last year, when Northwestern’s defensive linemen and linebackers went down with suspicious injuries.
Dykes said that, after eight months of watching the Wildcats, he’s found out more about what can hurt them, but also what they’re going to do well with another year under their belts.
“We have a big body of work, and they’re going to have some new wrinkles; they’ve got a lot of experience coming back, so when you have a lot of experience, that allows you to do some things, scheme-wise, that are a little bit different,” Dykes said. “We’ll see a lot of the same, and also some wrinkles, but that’s every week.”
The SAM linebacker spot is still up for grabs, potentially, as the week progresses, though it appears as though former Northwestern pledge Ray Davison will take the opening snap at that spot, if the Bears aren’t in nickel.
“We’ll kind of see how he feels, and a lot of that is going to depend on how much nickel we play, so we might play a lot, we might not play any,” Dykes said. “It just kind of depends on what we see, and, as the week progresses, what our health is at those spots and who are the best three guys and how to get them on the field and get them distributed.”
The Bears should release a depth chart within the next 24 hours, but Dykes said the first three cornerbacks are Cameron Walker, Darius Allensworth and Cedric Dozier, with Allensworth moving over to nickel in nickel situations, and Dozier coming in at corner.
“Ced’s had a good camp, and if we go nickel Ced will move out to corner, and we expect him to play well,” Dykes said.
Cal will have a walkthrough on Friday at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.
NOTEBOOK: Will Sebastian Make the Trip?
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