BERKELEY -- California defensive lineman and pass rush specialist Brennan Scarlett has undergone successful surgery to repair a partial tear in the anterior cruciate ligament, and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season, head coach Sonny Dykes announced on Thursday.
“Hate that it happened,” Dykes said. “He tried to make a go at it, and then everybody got together and decided that this was the best thing to do. That’s why it took a little bit of time for us to figure out what was going on. He tried to work through it and practice, and brace him and get him stronger, and then after discussing it with he and his family and doctors, we came to the conclusion that it was best to go and have the surgery.
“After talking about it, we felt like it was in his best interests to go ahead and have the surgery.”
[MESSAGE BOARDS: More from Thursday Practice]
The decision for the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Scarlett to undergo surgery was “kind of back-and-forth,” Dykes said.
“The biggest thing was to make sure everybody was on the same page,” Dykes said.
Scarlett – a native of Portland, Ore. -- originally damaged the knee – then thought to be a sprain – against Washington State, and even went back into the game after briefly coming off the field with the initial injury. Scarlett underwent surgery “sometime last week,” Dykes said.
“ACL, nothing else, no meniscus or anything else in there [was damaged],” Dykes said. “He’s on the road to recovery.”
Scarlett started the first five games of the season, racking up 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss (-19 yards), 2.0 sacks (-17 yards), one pass breakup, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Despite missing the last four games, he still shares the team lead with two sacks.
Scarlett missed all of last season with a hand injury, a fractured third metacarpal against USC in 2012 which then got infected, kept him out all of spring ball and the 2013 season. He will miss spring ball this coming spring, as well.
“Spring ball will be too soon,” Dykes said. “It would be hopefully July that he’ll be fully released and ready to go.”
Dykes said that the redshirt junior is in good spirits, though he is “disappointed.”
“He was really starting to kind of come into his own and starting to play well, so I think it’s frustrating for him,” Dykes said. “Just as things were starting to kind of fall into place, this happened. He understands that part of it, but he’ll get through it, and I expect him to have a great year this year. He’s had some injury issues, but the good thing is, the rest of his body is good. The one thing he had a little bit of surgery before, and all that was good, so he’s in good shape.”
On Thursday, and throughout the week, Noah Westerfield, Jonathan Johnson and Tony Mekari have all played at the rush end spot for the Bears during practice.
“We’ve been having to do it without him, so obviously, long-term stuff, it has an impact for the next three games, but some guys have stepped up,” Dykes said. “Noah Westerfield has obviously played a bigger role, and kind of worked his way into a starting role. Jonathan Johnson has given us some pop over there the last two or three ballgames at times, and he’s just got to become more consistent. I think he will. We’ve got to continue to play well.”
Todd Barr was also strong on Thursday during one-on-one work.
“Barr has done some good things for us,” Dykes said. “It’s a position where we have some depth, thankfully. I don’t know if we have anybody physically like Brennan, but we have some guys that are certainly playing hard, and making contributions.”
After making progress recovering from a broken foot, redshirt sophomore running back Jeffrey Coprich was back in a walking boot on Thursday, and Dykes was unsure whether he would be able to redshirt.
“I don’t know that he can,” Dykes said. “That’s going to depend on his redshirt status before, whether or not it was a medical before. The only way you can get a sixth year is if you have two season-ending surgeries. I don’t know for sure if it was a medical issue [last time] or not. That’s one of the things we investigate.”
Both Trevor Davis and Kenny Lawler caught passes on Thursday, but not during full 11-on-11 or seven-on-seven work. Lawler was in uppers, but Davis was not, and did not wear a helmet.
“Both of them did some pre-practice stuff, ran around,” Dykes said. “Trevor will practice in a red jersey on Saturday, and I expect Kenny’s load to get a little bit bigger, on Saturday.”
Dykes is hopeful that both will be available for Thursday’s game against %%MATCH_12%%. Of Cal’s 43 passing plays of 20 yards or more this season, Lawler and Davis account for 11. Before they each went down, they accounted for 11 of 36 passes of 20 yards or more.