BERKELEY -- The offense moved at-will. The defense blew coverages. One thing was abundantly clear from California's Saturday fall camp scrimmage: The Bears are going to be able to run the ball.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1690876-cal-football-2016-... Head coach Sonny Dykes has said that the Bears want to be able to run the ball "when everybody in the stadium knows you're going to run it."
The run game, though, was responsible for one of the bigger miscues on the day -- a fumble that got taken back for a touchdown -- but on the whole, the interior offensive line -- which saw Jeremiah Stuckey swing over to left guard, at times, from his post at right -- was very solid, and opened up several huge holes for the stable of Cal running backs.
"There were a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball, but you would expect that," Dykes said. "I thought the one offense early was very efficient, and I thought we ran the ball well. I thought the defense responded, and I was glad to see that."
There were also several miscommunications on routes, a dropped touchdown pass by Demetris Robertson (along with two catches for 41 and 43 yards, respectively, by the true freshman) and a screen pass to Vic Enwere sniffed out by safety Jacob Anderson.
Given what we saw on Saturday, though, the run game is going to be solid.
A side note: Cal hosted Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman running back Biaggio Ali-Walsh on his official visit this weekend, as well as receiver commits Taariq Johnson and Jeremiah Hawkins, and defensive line commit Gabe Cherry.
Takeaway 1: The Run Game
"We run versus good numbers in the box. If you're going to cheat the box, we're going to run the football," Dykes said earlier in camp. "If they load the box, we're going to be able to throw the ball."
We'll touch on that second part later, but on Saturday, Khalfani Muhammad rushed eight times for 126 yards and two touchdowns -- including a 70-yarder, to lead the offense.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1687776-countdown-to-kicko... "Khalfani's good. He made a couple big plays today, and did what he [does] -- he got the ball in the open field and made some things happen," Dykes said. "I thought they all saw things that running backs need to see, whether it was blitzers or whether it was adjustments when the quarterback was checking plays or adjusting. On Khalfani's long run, the run was supposed to go in the C gap, and he took it all the way out the back end, saw somebody blitzing and took the ball, pressed that gap and made a big play. I think they're all doing some good things."
Fabiano Hale rushed seven times for 54 yards, and Patrick Laird continued his strong camp with four carries and 30 yards, though he did make one key mistake, among several on both sides of the ball -- the fumble late in practice that led to the Tongilava touchdown.
Vic Enwere was active in the passing and running game, escaping linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk on a screen from Chase Forrest and then trucking Malik Psalms for a gain of eight and bursting through the middle on a first-down run for a gain of 20.
"I thought Vic ran hard," Dykes said. "I think that we've been talking to Vic a lot about how he needs to finish runs better and keep his pads down, and I think you saw signs of that today. We want him to be a big, physical, bruising running back, and you could see where he did that at times today."
Tre Watson only rushed three times, but did pick up a good block on defensive tackle James Looney to give quarterback Davis Webb time to throw. He then took a pitch from Webb on the next play for 16 yards, as Webb picked up the blitz.
"I thought Davis did a phenomenal job of checking plays away from blitzes, and seeing what was going on and making great decisions," Dykes said. "That's something different. I thought he did a tremendous job of doing that."
Webb finished the day (unofficially) 10-for-16 for 134 yards, with one touchdown, while Watson rushed three times for five yards.
"Our O-line came out and they were firing off the ball and made big holes for us to make big plays," Watson said. "Oh, man, oh man, oh man, it's definitely a blessing that our O-line is getting bigger and stronger and faster. We have the stable back there, and we're ready to go out and bowl some things over."
If the run game is as good as it looked on Saturday, perhaps it may be able to at least make up for a questionable defense. If the Bears can control the ball and -- as Dykes said -- run it when everyone in the stadium knows they're going to run it -- they can control the clock and keep their defense off the field.
"They put on a show," Watson said of the other running backs. "Making big plays, everyone came out hot, even the other three or four running backs, all came out hot. We compete every day, try to go out there and push each other. You definitely saw it, when we went to the sideline: 'You got the big play, it's my turn now.' It's all fun and games."
Unofficial Rushing Stats:
- Khalfani Muhammad 126 yards on 8 carries, 2 TDs
- Tre Watson 5 yards on 3 carries
- Fabiano Hale 54 yards on 7 carries
- Patrick Laird 30 yards on 4 carries, 1 fumble
- Vic Enwere 26 yards on 4 carries
- Derrick Clark 11 yards on 2 carries
- Victor Viramontes: 1 run for 4 yards, sacked twice for -10 yards
- Max Gilliam: Sacked once for -5 yards
- Zion Echols 3 yards on 1 carry
Takeaway 2: Receivers (members)
Quotable: "Chad's had a pretty solid fall camp. The big thing with him is, we've got to get him reps and keep him healthy. He and Davis are still getting on the same page, but we're closer." -- Sonny Dykes on Chad Hansen
Quotable: "Jacob's done a good job for us. He's been one of the real surprises of camp. I think he played corner for us last year, and I think the move to safety fits him. He's a good athlete, he's physical, he's willing to tackle. He shows up a lot. He plays really fast. He has a real knack for being in the right place at the right time, and I've been very, very pleased with him. I think he's one of those guys -- there's always two or three players who really make a jump from one year to the next. It's just about finding the right position, and getting comfortable, and, physically, he's changed his body. He's a good athlete, so he's starting to show up a bunch." -- Sonny Dykes on Jacob Anderson
Takeaway 4: The Defensive Front (members)
Quotable: "A lot of the guys didn't play much. We played with some young D-linemen quite a bit. Looney and some of those older guys -- DeVante Wilson -- they didn't play a lot of snaps. So, we're trying to keep them healthy. We've been banging on them pretty good. We've just got to make sure, again, when we blitz, we get things shored up, get the guys in the right gap. Somebody gets out of a gap, and all of the sudden, you look up and there's a big play." -- Sonny Dykes on the Cal defense
Takeaway 5: Linebackers? (members)
Quotable: I think the big thing is the older two guys who are playing – Devante Downs is way ahead of where he’s ever been. I think Ray Davison is taking a leadership role, coming along, and then everyone else is kind of in a developmental stage. I’ve got to get them as much work as I can.” -- Defensive coordinator Art Kaufman
More Scrimmage Coverage
- CAL SCRIMMAGE TAKEAWAYS: LINEBACKERS (members)
- CAL SCRIMMAGE TAKEAWAYS: DEFENSIVE LINE (members)
- CAL SCRIMMAGE TAKEAWAYS: DEFENSIVE BACKS (members)
- CAL FALL SCRIMMAGE TAKEAWAYS: ROBERTSON AND HANSEN (members)
- BTTV: JACOB ANDERSON
- BTTV: CAL'S SONNY DYKES TALKS SCRIMMAGE
- BTTV: CAL DC ART KAUFMAN TALKS SCRIMMAGE
- BTTV: BURNS SAYS NOT GOOD ENOUGH
- SCRIMMAGE: THREE THINGS TO WATCH