THREE AND OUT: Cal Spring Progress Report

BERKELEY -- Mike Vernon of the San Francisco Chronicle and I break down three story lines apiece as Cal football heads into its final week of spring ball, highlighted by a 64-yard run from Vic Enwere, who could have a breakout year, according to head coach Sonny Dykes.

Sonny Dykes Post-Practice Transcript from California’s Practice on Wednesday

Stephen Anderson and Erik Brown not out there today: “Stephen will be back. I would think they’d both be back Friday. Erik had a little bit of a sickness, and Stephen I would think would be good to go by Friday, so no big deal.”

OL tougher this year, don’t take crap, where does that come from: “I think that remains to be seen, first of all. I think we’ve improved, certainly. I think that we’re doing a lot of little things a lot better, and I think, like anything, your group takes on the personality of the coach, so I think that group has got Brandon’s personality, and he’s kind of a no-nonsense grinder who worked those guys hard, and made them really accountable, and I think they’ve responded really well to him. I just think that the group is much improved. We have some guys that are unproven, a little bit, that we’re going to need to play for us, but I think they’re playing well now, and we anticipate them playing well in the fall. We think that by the time September rolls around, I think they’ll be ready to play.”

[READ MORE: Live Thread from Wednesday’s Practice]

Brandon Jones was disappointed in the OL’s performance on Wedneday, kept the OL after practice to work on tempo, how did they do today: “I thought it was OK today. They gave up a sack in the team period, one time. DeVante Wilson got in there and got a sack. My first thoughts walking off the field were that it was pretty good. We’ll go back and look at the tape, but they’re playing physical, they’re playing well together. Little things that people don't notice when they’re getting lined up, it’s quicker. There are much less penalties, and they seem to be playing with a lot more discipline.”

Does tougher necessarily mean better: “I think that’s what you want from O-linemen. I think, for us, our guys have been athletic enough. We just need them to be tough and physical and to play tough and to play physical and to play strong. As the group has developed – we were playing with a lot of young guys for a long time – when you look at Chris Borrayo and Steven Moore and Rigsbee, those guys have been fixtures for three years, so going into the third year in this offense, we expect them to be good players. They’ve got a lot of reps. Matt Cochran has been a pretty good player, as well. All those are guys that you would expect them to be better, going into their third year.”

Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin said after practice, “You can tell this is the third year.”

Jared Goff had several passes that were as good as he’s had. In third-down work, Goff hit a screen right to Vic Enwere, who received a great block by Kenny Lawler to spring the sophomore for a 64-yard touchdown. In seven-on-seven, Goff hit a leaping Lawler in the back of the end zone, after Lawler had a catch and was immediately stopped by Darius White.

Dykes’s thoughts on Goff’s day: “I thought he had a good day. It just seems like things have slowed down for him. The last two practices, in particular, it’s fun to sit back there and watch him. He’s throwing the ball pretty good right now, starting to develop a lot of confidence, has a good sense of timing with those receivers, and right now, those guys are tough to cover when he’s putting the ball where he’s putting it, the ball’s coming out on time. The last couple practices have been pretty darn good.”

The cornerbacks have taken a step, but the safeties are a work in progress: “I would agree with that. I think, certainly, Darius White has been, the last four or five practices, coming back from Spring Break, he’s been really good He’s competing much harder, playing with a lot more confidence. Darius Allensworth is playing better, Cedric Dozier’s playing better. De’Zhon Grace is playing better. I think, right now, we feel pretty good about four corners. The safeties, the situation is a little bit of a mess. We just don’t have a lot of guys right now.”

Luke Rubenzer’s done some good things. It’s hard to tell a little bit, just because he’s been in the red most of the spring. We’re just trying to keep him healthy, so it’s been a little bit hard to tell from him. Derron Brown’s learning. We’ve got so many guys that are injured and coming off of injuries. I think the group in the fall will look much different than it does right now. I think we’ll have a lot more depth, and we start getting some of these guys back. We’ve just been really depleted with some injuries, and we’ve had a strange situation at safety, for going on three years now.”

Three safeties with significant playing experience are out: Stefan McClure, Patrick Worstell and Griffin Piatt, as is redshirt freshman Quentin Tartabull, who’s told BearTerritory that he feels like he’s ready to go now, but won’t play until the fall.

“We think we’ll get everybody back healthy. We think with the freshmen that we have coming in, when we start getting Piatt back and Tartabull back and McClure back, those are all guys that have played a lot of football, so we think that group will stabilize. The good thing about it is, when they’re not out there in the spring, other guys have gotten more reps and had their opportunities to improve. It’s been good for them.”

Is there a chance Rubenzer would play without the red at safety: “I don’t know. We’ll see, probably assess where he’s at, and maybe in the spring game, let him get some live reps and go play some. The injury’s not bad enough, but we don’t want him to take a big setback.”

Will some of the guys who have been conditioning off to the side come back at all during the final five practices: “I think Jalen Jefferson will get more and more reps, as he’s continued to kind of work in there more. Maybe you’ll see more from him Friday, and especially next week. Moose [Mustafa Jalil] we’re not going to much with Moose, kind of keep him on the same plan that we’re on right now. I think for the most part, it’s going to be the guys who are out there.”

Jefferson did not play any live snaps on Wednesday. The first-team linebackers were Michael Barton and Hardy Nickerson in nickel situations, with the second team base linebackers Hamilton Anoa’i in the middle, flanked by Maximo Espitia and Devante Downs.

More on the evaluation of the defensive backs: “I’ve been happy with what I’ve seen of the corners. I think the corners are much improved. We were saying earlier that the depth at safety is not what we want. We’ve just got a lot of guys that aren’t participating right now. Derron Brown’s gotten a million reps, and I think it’s helped him improve, but he’s learning a whole new system and doing some new things. You expect that transition to be a little slow, Luke, same way. Those guys have both improved, and I think both show signs of being good players at those positions. We’ve got to continue to build depth. David Garner’s done some good things at safety. He keeps showing up. He’s a hard worker, he does some good things. He’s just got to keep improving and developing as an athlete, as a player. We’ve got to get all those healthy bodies back.”

Garner, during team work, made a stop on inside receiver Kyle Wells, jarring the ball loose. Garner gave up 7 inches and 35 pounds to Wells, but still made the stop.

Is it fair to say that the defensive backfield is one of the more important groups: “Definitely. For us to get where we want to go, we’ve got to play better defense. The defense as a whole has to play at a higher level. I think, walking away from this, I think we feel that we’ve got enough depth in our defensive front and linebacker, we’ve just got to get all the pieces put together in the secondary. If we can get that done, we can take a step forward.”

Is Garner somewhat limited by his size (5-9, 195): “He’s not your prototypical safety. He’s just not that long, but he makes up for it with hustle and knowing how to play the position and making good decisions, so he’s done a good job.”

The highlight of practice was Enwere’s 64-yard catch-and-run touchdown, and he continues to improve every day, can he have a breakout year: “I think so. He continues to improve, and he’s still a really young player, but like a lot of these guys, he’s more comfortable and is bigger, stronger, faster and a year further along. This time last year, he was still in high school. I think that he’s taking advantage of these opportunities, and just keeps getting better.”

Another player who was in high school a year ago, freshman quarterback Ross Bowers, had one of the passing highlights of the day, found Trevor Davis 25 yards downfield, fitting the ball under defensive back Ibrahim Elhassan’s arm and right on Davis’s back hip. Top Stories