Cal head coach Sonny Dykes talks about spending Christmas with his team

The execution "wasn't quite where we needed it to be," said Cal head coach Sonny Dykes, but the energy was there as the Bears prepare to face Air Force's veer option offense.

The effort and the focus were "good," said California head coach Sonny Dykes of the Bears' first bowl practice in Dallas, as the team assembled in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex for its first bowl site practice on Christmas Day -- all getting there on time, Dykes noted.

"Just getting these practices is big, just getting this experience is big," said Dykes, who will likely be breaking in a new quarterback this spring if and when junior Jared Goff declares for the NFL Draft, and will also be breaking in a largely-new crew of wide receivers, including Kanawai NoaCarlos Strickland, JuCo signee Jordan Veasy and Brandon Singleton, as well as Austin Aaron, who went down last week in practice with a collar bone injury, and is not practicing. "For us to spend more time with our players is always important, to grow as a family and as a program. The practices are invaluable. We're going to get 14 prior to the Air Force game, and all 14 are going to be really important to the development of our younger players, and for the future of our program."  Dykes -- a Texas native -- talked about how valuable it is to spend time with teammates on the road, and to see the sites and experience the culture of his home state (both running back Vic Enwere and linebacker Nathan Broussard have both come down on the Whataburger side of the Whataburger vs. In-N-Out debate, though Broussard does say he gets the chicken sandwich, not the burger itself), but that, "ultimately, you're going to remember the game positively if you win, and negatively if you lose."

Also at stake: Recruiting. The Bears have linebacker commit Cameron Goode, who's said he'll try to make it to the game from his home in Klein, Tex., over three hours away, and who has also made an official visit to Nebraska as of late. The Bears have also made the top two for Lil'Jordan Humphrey, a four-star athlete out of South Lake Carroll.

Dykes said that the Bears and Air Force "have the same philosophy, but get around to it, differently."

The Falcons use scheme (the veer option) to maximize their players' strengths (discipline) and minimize their weaknesses (lack of time spent on football, as opposed to their armed forces education, and lack of size and speed).

"We're a team that tries to go fast, offenseively," Dykes said, "they try to go slow, but it really is all about execution, the offenses are. They do it a little bit differently. A lot of their option stuff is on the first level, where ours is on the second level. Theirs is in the run, and ours is in the pass. It's the same ideas -- trying to work somebody, 'If he does this, you do this,' but two different ways to try to accomplish the same goal. It's an interesting match-up because it's two similar philosophies, but two way different schools of thought on how to achieve those philosophies."

Find out more about those philosophies by clicking above on Armed Forces Bowl Central, and stay tuned later this week as we break down the veer option.

The Bears will be holding an open-to-the-public practice on Saturday, starting at 3 pm CT at Burleson Centennial High School at 201 S Hurst Street in Burleson, Texas.

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