Dykes Puts Cal Through Paces Again
BERKELEY -- For the second straight day, the California football team’s practice wasn’t quite up to snuff for head coach Sonny Dykes.
After the nominal end of practice at Memorial Stadium, Dykes had the Bears go back and repeat one of the previous practice periods, just to get it right.
“We needed to get their attention a little bit,” Dykes said. “We didn’t have a very good period, at one point in practice, and we came and stayed after and got it done correctly. I think that’s part of our maturity, the process of maturing. The thing that we need to do as a team is, we’ve got an open week, it’s a Wednesday practice, but we’ve got to get work done. We can’t afford to have a bad period, and it’s really important that we don’t. It was a good opportunity for us to remind these guys how important that is.”
Dykes, however, wasn’t concerned with a lack of concentration on the part of his team, and that, unlike Tuesday, Cal had plenty of pop.
“I sensed that we had the pop today, it’s just we started off a little slow,” Dykes said. “The good news is that we got turned up pretty quickly, and I thought, overall, we had a good practice.”
“The biggest thing is, we’ve just got to do a good job coaching. We’ve got to coach them up and make sure that, if they can’t get themselves started, that we’ve got to get them started. Luckily, they understood that we need to do better, and kind of got it going. It got more lively, and I thought we had a pretty good day, overall.”
As he did earlier in the week, safety Michael Lowe had light duty on Wednesday, with Avery Sebastian and Griffin Piatt taking the first-team reps that the veteran safety did not take.
“He’s a little sore, so what we’re trying to do is to just get him back healthy and get him back full-speed,” Dykes said. “Our thought was, instead of him practicing at 75 percent, let’s get him healthy and get him ready to go 100 percent as quickly as we can. I anticipate him being fine on Sunday.”
Piatt, in particular, has had a strong week, and with two interceptions over the past two games, has impressed his head coach with his ball skills.
“I thought he’d play a lot, just because I thought he was really consistent versus the pass,” Dykes said. “I think he’s one of the better guys that we have. He anticipates throws and he can close and he’s got length and all that stuff, so that part of it is good. We’ve been a little bit dinged at safety at times, and we’ve had to play a lot of guys, which is good. Any time guys can get reps, it helps them grow. Right now, there’s a good competition going on. If you look at those spots, Piatt’s played well. Avery has had some experience in the past, Stefan’s played well and Lowe’s playing well, so you’ve got four safeties that you feel like have a chance to help you, and be pretty productive.”
As we mentioned earlier this week, having 6-foot-1 corner Darius White back in the fold against Arizona for the Pac-12 opener could help given that none of the men on the two-deep for the Wildcats at the outside receiver position are below 6-foot-3.
“I think, if we get him back, it’s a good thing,” said Dykes. “I think our guys will hold up, regardless of who’s out there. Darius Allensworth’s got probably as long as arms as anybody I’ve been around, so he’s playing a lot taller than he is. So, overall, I think even those guys are going to hold up. I think, in some ways, the height of a corner is pretty overrated. If you play good technique and play in the right spot, not too many people are going to throw a bunch of jump balls. There’s a lot more to it than just throwing it up and some guy out-jumping somebody. It’s positioning it’s timing, it’s where are you on the offensive player – a lot more involved than just size.”
That said, Dykes did mention back in February while presenting the recruiting class, and to recruits during this cycle, that he’s looking for taller corners, and White certainly is that.
“We’d like to get longer guys, not just for that, but just as much as anything else, to get their hands on guys,” Dykes said. “It makes it more difficult for guys to get off the line of scrimmage, if you’re going to play some more aggressive man type games, that kind of stuff.”
With the Bears next traveling to Tucson to face Arizona, it will be the first time since he enrolled that freshman quarterback Luke Rubenzer will be going back to his home state. Will he be as much a part of the offense as he’s been the first two weeks? Judging by practice, the answer appears to be ‘Yes, if not more,’ but Dykes won’t let anything slip.
“A lot of it is just going to depend on week to week, and how do they play the quarterback run game, and if we feel like it gives us a numerical advantage running the football, and that kind of thing,” Dykes said. “A lot of it will depend on the game plan and what we want to get accomplished that week.”
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