California five-star wide receiver Demetris Robertson caught the first pass from scrimmage by starting quarterback Davis Webb in Australia, but came down hard on his back, out of bounds. He didn't catch a pass (in bounds) until the fourth quarter, and was largely invisible, in between, during the Bears' 51-31 win over Hawaii. There was a reason for that, head coach Sonny Dykes said on Tuesday's Pac-12 teleconference.
"He played some during the ballgame, just got him in the rotation, and he ended up getting a couple of catches; he's learning how to play a position," Dykes said.
Robertson rushed 107 times for 1,043 yards as a senior at Savannah Christian Prep, but he caught just 12 passes for 126 yards. In many respects, he's still learning how to be a true outside receiver.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1700008-fifth-quarter-cal-... "He's getting better," Dykes said. "I think you'll see more of him as the season progresses. We played three X's over there. Brandon Singleton got his first action, as well, and played pretty well, and Patrick Worstell has been a guy who's played a lot. All three of them played at different times during the ballgame, and I think he (Robertson) lost his legs a little bit during camp, and I think he's getting them back. We'll see how he looks this week, and go from there."
The Bears will practice four times during the bye week (after arriving on Sunday and taking Monday off to catch up on class), before starting game prep for San Diego State next week.
"Our players needed to get back in the flow academically," Dykes said. "That was important for us. We have some different demands here, at Cal, in terms of the academics. Our guys had to get re-focused quickly, and get settled, academically."
The coaching staff is still "worn out" from jet-lag, Dykes said, admitting that his sleep schedule is still "a little messed up."
"I've heard it takes three or four days when you come back," Dykes said. "It seemed like, for whatever reason, the travel over, we were able to adjust a little bit more quickly. It took us about a day or two going over, and it seems like it's taking us a little bit longer, coming back. We've got kind of a routine that we use during open weeks, so we'll jump right into our open week routine this week, and start getting ready for San Diego State."
The Aztecs, led by Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey led San Diego State with 1,653 rushing yards on 309 attempts (5.3 ypc) and 17 rushing touchdowns last season, also catching a team-high 28 balls for 416 yards (second on team) (14.9 ypc) and three receiving touchdowns (second on team), leading the Aztecs with 2,069 all-purpose yards. Last year, Cal effectively stifled Pumphrey in Berkeley, as he ran for 85 yards on 21 carries, more than half of San Diego State's 153-yard net rushing total that afternoon.
Cal allowed 248 rushing yards to Hawaii, a team that, last year, averaged 123.9 yards per game on the ground. That in particular was a sore point with Dykes, as the Bears will face an Aztecs squad next week that averaged 233.3 yards per game in 2015.
"They ran the ball more than we wanted to get the ball run on us," Dykes said. "I thought, on the back end, we were improved. I thought our athleticism was better than it's been, and certainly our depth is better than it's been.
"I thought Devante Downs played really well at a linebacker spot. I thought Marloshawn Franklin played well at corner. I thought James Looney did some good things at defensive tackle. Khari Vanderbilt, I thought, played physical at the safety position. It was OK."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1698546-breakdown-defendin... One of the biggest issues for the Bears, which they won't face against San Diego State, was the fact that Cal was a bit blind, going in, because of head coach Nick Rolovich's offensive history.
"I wasn't happy with our run defense, so I certainly hope that's the case," Dykes said. "We had a lot of different people [playing]. We were a little unsure going into the game exactly what we were going to see, schematically, just because we were facing a head coach who had been an offensive coordinator and had very different backgrounds -- he had been a little pistol at Nevada, had been run-and-shoot at Hawaii -- so we weren't quite sure exactly what we were going to see, going into the ballgame. We had to make some adjustments during the course of the game. We gave up a couple of drives that I think were frustrating, where they just lined up and ran it at us. We've got to get that fixed, clearly.
"We've got to make sure we play a lot better against San Diego State than we did against Hawaii, otherwise, we won't win the ballgame. I don't think any of us are walking around right now, pounding our chest and all that type of stuff. I think we know we have to get a lot better, and have a lot of work to do."
Dykes said that, from the second series on, the Bears "rolled pretty much our three-deep on defense," playing over 30 players.
"That was our philosophy going in -- we were going to play a lot of different players, take a look at a lot of different guys," Dykes said. "We hadn't had 30 defensive players on our team, much less guys that can play. We wanted to take a look at a lot of different guys, and we did. Hopefully, we'll be better off, because of it."
There were some exceptions.
According to Cal's game-day participation report, cornerback Antoine Albert (who was in the running for second corner, opposite Darius Allensworth throughout much of camp), did not play, though Dykes believed he did play on special teams. Either way, he didn't see any snaps on defense.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1699980-hansen-muhammad-pr... Freshman corner Traveon Beck, who was a star in fall camp over the final week and a half, also did not see any action.
"No particular reason; we anticipate him playing," Dykes said. "We played a lot of guys, and he didn't get in the game, but I imagine he'll get into some, as we proceed."
Swing guard Jeremiah Stuckey also did not play.
"Jeremiah didn't play, but I will anticipate him playing a little bit more as we keep rolling," Dykes said.
A slick field may have led to some of the issues the Bears had in getting off the line, and consequently route timing, Dykes intimated. "It certainly didn't help that we had guys that slipped," Dykes said.
Webb went 38-of-54 for 441 yards, four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown against the Warriors, but there was still room for some improvement.
"The good thing is, there's lots of improvement to be made," Dykes said. "I think, early, he was a little bit like everybody. We were just a little bit unsettled early in the ballgame, a lot of new, moving pieces and parts and things. He did a really good job checking, most of the game. He got us out of bad plays and into good plays, and really did a good job checking runs into favorable boxes. A couple times, they kind of got us to check a run on third down, and five or six yards, and stopped the drive. I think we've got to do a little bit better job of getting him coached up on when we want him to do that, be aware of doing it, sometimes, on third down. We got baited into a couple of bad checks, there."
Cal had 12 different receivers catch balls, including 14 for 160 yards and two touchdowns by Chad Hansen. As Dykes said: A lot of new moving parts.
"I thought it was OK for the first time out," Dykes said. "We'll see where we go from there, but I thought [Webb] had a good game. I really did. I thought his preparation showed. He was very well prepared, had a pretty good command of what we were trying to do."
Dykes's final thoughts on Australia: "I think it was an experience that our players will never forget. It was a really, really unique experience, just from having an opportunity to go to a different continent, to a great city like Sydney, and to see the sights that our guys had an opportunity to see, and have the experiences, and then to play in an Olympic stadium, where they had the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, and to play in an atmosphere that's so different and unique, I think is a memory that's going to last forever. When your team does that -- we were there six days, I believe -- you're going to spend time with guys that you don't normally spend with each other, and that's going to result in meaningful dialogue and shared experiences and all the things that make a team closer. It wasn't easy. The travel was rough. It was a 14-hour flight. That part wasn't easy. A little bit of the logistics were tough, once we got there, in terms of practice facility and that type of thing, but I don't think any of our guys would change anything about the experience. I think we all had a great time, and it's something that they'll remember for the rest of their lives."