“He’s seeing things,” head coach Sonny Dykes said of Lasco, who quietly rushed for 1,151 yards – the most by a Cal running back since Isi Sofele ran for 1,322 in 2011. “He’s making the right decisions with the football, and he and Jared [Goff] are on the same page in the passing game. I think our offensive line is much improved. I really do. I think they’re coming off the ball better, playing much better fundamentals than we have. I think it’s helping our running game. I think he’s the beneficiary of that.”
The first-team offensive line remained the same as it has for the past four practices, with Vince Johnson at left tackle, Chris Borrayo at left guard, Matt Cochran at center, Jordan Rigsbee at right guard and Brian Farley at right tackle. Before that, the line remained the same, save for the tackles, with Farley at left tackle and Dominic Granado at right. Granado has since been moved to the second team, and during one-on-ones against the defensive line, Granado was swapped out for Farley at left after several unsatisfactory reps.
Other than that, this has been perhaps the most stable the offensive line unit has been since Dykes took over.
“We’ve stayed healthy, and we’ve gotten a lot of work done,” Dykes said. “There’s been some good competition. It’s brought the best out of some guys. I think Vinnie Johnson’s playing good, and I think is really competing at a high level right now. Brian Farley has been a guy that has really probably been as consistent as anybody, and has really played at a high level. This football team needs Brian Farley to be a good player. He’s going to be a very important player for us in the fall, and it’s good to see him continue to improve. I’m happy with the group.”
Dykes characterized Friday’s practice as “physical,” unusual since Cal will go full-pads on Saturday morning for a scrimmage.
“I thought they competed hard today,” Dykes said. “I thought, to me, we were more physical, we tackled better today, we squared people up, and there were more pads popping today than I’ve seen in any spring practice we’ve had, so that was encouraging.”
The 11-on-11 periods featured three scuffles, as the offense and defense got into it much more than before spring break, as far as physicality is concerned.
“The guys handled it the right way, and you want to see them competing hard against each other,” Dykes said. “Sometimes, it goes that way, but our guys know not to do that. We haven’t had any problems with it.
“It’s what we want. We want it to be physical like that. I was pleased. I thought our play was very physical. I challenged them a little bit, that we needed to be more physical, after going back and looking at the first six practices. I thought they did a really good job, going out and doing what we asked them to do.”
The defense held the offense scoreless on the first two drives of 11-on-11 work at the end of practice, a spell broken only by a five-yard touchdown by Tre Watson. The running backs rotated heavily throughout the day, with both the first- and second-team offenses, with hard, physical runs by both Vic Enwere and Lonny Powell through the interior.
“I thought it was alright. I thought it was good. It was good to see both sides have some success,” Dykes said. “Made a couple plays on offense, made a couple plays on defense, so that was encouraging to see. That’s what you want to see.”
The defensive one-on-ones and 11-on-11 work was highlighted by the performance of Kennedy Emesibe, whose move to defensive tackle has been a success thus far. He was roundly praised during the pass rushing segment of practice.
“Kennedy’s a good athlete. He’s learning how to play. He’s an athletic guy, strong, moves well. He’s still kind of growing into his body, but we think he’s got a chance to be an explosive, defensive player.”
Defensive backs Caleb Coleman and Trevellous Cheek were held out of practice, and did not even don red jerseys, instead standing on the sidelines in sweats.
“Nothing major, just kind of dinged a little bit,” Dykes said. “We’ll see what they do tomorrow. We may hold them tomorrow, too.”
Inside receiver Ray Hudson was not in red, as he was on Monday.
As for what the Bears will be doing on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, Dykes said that Cal will go 50-60 full-contact scrimmage plays.
“We’ll do what we’ve been doing, just trying to roll it out there and be physical, a lot of situational things, things that we feel are going to be pretty critical to winning and losing ballgames next year,” Dykes said.
The scrimmage will feature third-down work, red zone work, four-minute offense, two-minute offense, goal-line play and two-point plays. Dykes said that no starters would be held out.
“We’ll roll it out and go,” Dykes said. “We won’t go a crazy number of plays or anything, but we’re going to get everybody reps.”
After being limited much of spring, Matthew Rockett was back in the swing of things at the inside receiver spot, and made several athletic grabs in one-on-one work against the defensive backs.
Veteran linebacker Jalen Jefferson wasn’t in the full rotation during 11-on-11s, but he got his first live action during seven-on-seven work.
“Jalen’s working back in slowly, kind of like we said, and he’ll probably do a little more tomorrow, a little bit more on Monday, and we’ll continue to progress him back,” Dykes said.
The first-team linebacking corps was anchored by Hardy Nickerson, Jr., in the middle, flanked by a noticeably faster and quicker Michael Barton and Jake Kearney.
The second linebacking unit saw Aisea Tongilava, Maximo Espitia and Devante Downs take the field.
The defense was very good in third-down work, holding the second-team offense to 1-of-4 conversions, though the first-team offense converted four straight, including a completion to Kenny Lawler on the right side.
While defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil will not see any live reps this spring, he was working back into form in one-on-ones against the offensive line. He did more of that one-on-one work than he has since the early goings of spring camp.
Erik Brown was a standout in the receiving corps on Friday, making one fingertip grab around his defender in 11-on-11 work and showing off a lot of body control and quickness, with a side of shakes.