Day 11: Watson Breaks Free

BERKELEY -- Tre Watson breaks free for a huge 85-yard run on Day 11 of camp, as the Bears continue into double days ...

BERKELEY -- Before California embarked on its second double day of the week – more than the Bears had in all of Sonny Dykes’s first fall at the helm -- Tre Watson had a few things to say. With his legs.

Cal ran 21 full-scrimmage plays on Tuesday, with 18 of them being runs. The big attraction was an 85-yard multiple cut-back run by the sophomore tailback, who was eventually brought down by linebacker Aisea Tongilava, evoking the best Wild Kingdom’s best lion-chasing-down-gazelle comparison money can buy.

[MORE: Practice Highlights]

“Before the play, me and Stephen Anderson, we were talking about it, and he said, ‘Bro, you’ve got to pop this,’ so I went up there with the mindset to score,” Watson said. “The offensive line blocked really well, and I saw the cut-back, they left the hole open, so I cut it back, went up the sideline, and Carlos Strickland had a good block on the cornerback, so I turned it up, and then I saw A.J. Greathouse scraping over the top, and I cut back off of him, and from there, I was trying to make it to the end zone, but Aisea caught me. It was a good run, and I couldn’t have done it without my receivers, and the O-line making that big hole for me.”

Once Watson was finally brought down, the enormity of what Tongilava had done – chasing down one of the Bears’ faster running backs for about 60 yards – struck him.

“I know! I was like, ‘What’s going on?” Watson exclaimed. “Honestly, I should have seen it coming, because I saw him scraping over, but I didn’t think he was able to make it. But, he did. Aisea, people underestimate Aisea. He’s actually one of the fastest defensive players we have, game-speed-wise.”

Tongilava has mainly run with the second-team linebacker unit.

“Aisea can run,” Dykes said. “That’s the one thing that he’s done consistently. He shows speed. We’ve just got to get him playing.”

As for the blocking Watson received, Dykes – now coaching the outside receivers – has been working on blocking with his charges every day before practice, and it paid off.

“I thought he ran the ball well,” Dykes said of Watson. “We were trying to run the ball a lot today. That was something we needed to focus the team period on. We didn’t throw many passes. We ran 21 plays as a team, full-tackle, and probably had 18 runs, I’m guessing. There wasn’t a lot of throwing. We felt like we needed to work on our offensive line coming off the ball, defensive groups getting off blocks and tackling. That was something we wanted to emphasize today.”

Closer to the point of attack, on the offensive line, Aaron Cochran once again spent the practice with the first-team at left tackle, and got second-team reps, in addition, as the coaching staff continues to push the 6-foot-8 redshirt sophomore. Again, Dominic Granado was at center, Jordan Rigsbee at right guard and Brian Farley at right tackle, with Steven Moore being rested.

Dykes said that “by the end of the week” he’d like to have a solid first-team line.

“That’ll give us two good weeks to get as much continuity as possible,” Dykes said. “The thing we want to be able to do is have some flexibility in ballgames, to be able to roll some guys around, get the best five, six, seven, eight guys on the field. The more we can do that in practice, and simulate that, the more it allows us to do it in ballgames. That’s our goal, going in – find the best five, then find the best six, the best seven and the best eight, and see how they all fit together. The more we mess with them during practice, the more flexibility they give us during ballgames.”

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Cal has another two-practice day and could “possibly” have one on Friday. All two-a-days will have one practice held at an off-campus location.

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Bryce Treggs did not practice on Tuesday, due to a sprained foot.

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Safety Damariay Drew was in red on Tuesday, but was back in pads for the first time in several days, after “not feeling well.” Drew was running with the first team, and was one of the top performers over the first seven days of camp.

“Expect him to be out of the red soon,” Dykes said. “The big thing is we’re just trying to limit his collisions right now. Don’t want him to get too many collisions, but he’ll be fine.”

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Cornerbacks Darius White and Darius Allensworth are “playing at a high level,” Dykes said, and by the looks of things, will be the starting two. Cornerbacks.

“I’d like to see a third corner step up,” Dykes said. “We’re not sure who that’s going to be yet. There are guys that have had good moments, but no guys have a consistent body of work quite yet, like the other two guys have shown us.”

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Safety Stefan McClure has been in and out of the red jersey, depending on the day and the drill. Dykes said that he will be worked in to more full-contact team work at the start of next week.

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Dykes said that Brandon Singleton and Kanawai Noa have a chance to play early, as will Semisi Uluave.

“We’ll see some other guys as they continue to develop,” Dykes said. “Defensively, I would expect all the DBs to play. Trey Turner is really doing some good things. I think Jaylinn Hawkins, when he comes back – he’s got a little bit of a dinged shoulder – we anticipate him hopefully working his way into the mix. Billy McCrary has already worked his way into the mix, Evan Rambo’s done some, Malik Psalms has done some.”

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