Dykes: Robertson's Role Likely to Expand

BERKELEY -- Cal head coach Sonny Dykes says Demetris Robertson's role will likely expand, now that he's got his legs back.

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BERKELEY -- California head coach Sonny Dykes said that Thursday's practice was the best yet for five-star freshman wide receiver Demetris Robertson.

Largely absent for much of Friday's opener against Hawaii -- catching just two passes -- Robertson worked at the X position, and while he did get most of his snaps in late as a blocker, Dykes said that this coming week, his role is very likely to expand, as he flips to the Z outside spot.

"He's doing a lot of things for us, right now," Dykes said. "He's covering punts, and is really helping us with that, and he's going to get some balls on kick and punt return. He's doing a lot of things for us from a special teams perspective. He's got a full plate right now, for a young guy, but he's one of the most eager young players I've ever been around, in terms of, he wants to figure out ways to get better, he wants to work, and he never slows down."

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1698397-demetris-robertson...It has taken the Bears, Dykes said, a while to get settled back into a daily routine after the trip to Sydney, Australia, and he doesn't envy the Warriors, who turn around and travel to face Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., in two days.

"This would have been a hard thing," Dykes said. "Hawaii, I don't know how they're doing what they're doing. We needed it just to get on our feet, academically, and just to get settled a little bit. I thought today's practice was an improvement over yesterday's, and I think tomorrow's will be even better, and I think we'll be back to where we need to be soon."

One of the players who had been out-of-sorts was Robertson, but that's not the case anymore.

"It's good to see guys start to make a move," Dykes said. "We needed to make a move this week. That's encouraging ... He's one of those guys I talked about who needed to have a good week for us, and he's starting to have that. I think he lost his legs a little bit last week. Young guys have a tendency to do it, and sometimes, those young guys never get it back. They just can't ever get caught up because it's such a different thing, physically. The good thing is, he's recovered and he's got spring back in his legs. I was really pleased with what I saw out of him today, and I think he's starting to pick things up and get more comfortable."

Inside receivers coach Jacob Peeler, who helped to recruit Robertson, noticed him on Thursday, as well, and it wasn't only because he finally had a new No. 8 practice jersey printed up to replace the emergency No. 5 he was sporting the last two days (his original was lost).

"He's still faster than everybody," Peeler said. "The camp legs thing has worn off. I looked over on a couple reps in one-on-one, and he's just playing a different speed. I think, he's now understanding all of the things. It's not new to him. He's starting to hear the same thing, and the repetition of all the reps, hearing the same stuff in meetings, and now, on the field, he's starting to pick it up. All this stuff was new to him, because he's always just been one of those guys who's athleticism was all he needed to get away with things. When you get to this level, you've got to learn subtle differences on stems and how to maneuver pad level and things like that."


Kanawai Noa was not at practice, while Marloshawn Franklin was laid up with an illness. Tony MekariJames Looney and Semisi Uluave all worked conditioning off to the side, as did the injured Vic Wharton and left tackle Aaron Cochran.

"We held some guys out because of injury," Dykes said. "They'll be fine. 20 guys."

As for Cochran, who has put on shoulder pads each of the last three days, and done some individual work, he may be getting close to coming back from his knee sprain, thought Dykes hesitated when asked if he would be back by next Saturday's tilt against San Diego State.

"Yeah, yeah, I think so, I mean, we'll see," Dykes said. "I'm hoping to get him back practicing on Tuesday. Then, he hasn't played in a while, so I don't know how much honestly. It's just going to depend on what he can do. I think that's been the goal, and it's important to practice. It really is. He's going to be a little bit behind."

Offensive line coach Brandon Jones isn't counting on Cochran, because his replacement -- Patrick Mekari -- has been so solid in the interim. It may take a week for Cochran to get back into the rhythm of practicing, which means he may not make his 2016 debut until the Bears host Texas on Sept. 17.

"I asked him, and he said he felt pretty good, but that's one of those deals you don't want to rush," Jones said. "Obviously, we miss him, we want him out there, but like I've told you before, I'm really confident in Patrick. Like I've said, he's done a really good job, and Aaron, I thought Aaron, the last six games, was, if not our best linemen, was one of them, so obviously him getting back will be a big piece to the puzzle."

Jones said he didn't notice Mekari against Hawaii -- and for offensive linemen, that's a good thing. In that regard, linemen are like referees, umpires and long snappers -- the less you notice them, the better.

"He did some really good stuff, absolutely," Jones said. "He's got to work on his set a little more and stand square and work when he gets tired," Jones said. "He had jitters early, but settled in and played pretty well."

"I thought he played as well as anybody," Dykes said of Mekari. "I was really pleased with the way he played, in particular. I thought he played well, I thought Chris Borrayo played well. I thought those two guys were standouts, for sure. The left side of the offensive line was really impressive."


Dykes said that between Wednesday and Thursday, linebacker Hamilton Anoa'i has made a jump, as he tallied a sack during scrimmage situations on Wednesday, and had another strong day on Thursday.

"He got some live reps yesterday, and I've been really pleased with what I've seen out of him at the linebacker spot," Dykes said. "I think he'll be back and ready to go. He's a guy that, to me, has really made a big jump."

Fellow linebacker Aisea Tongilava has been sporting a heavy brace on his arm the last several days, and has been limited in his individual work.

Dykes also praised defensive end Cameron Saffle, who was also the subject of plaudits from defensive line coach Fred Tate on Wednesday. 

"He needs to become a guy for us, a consistent player," Dykes said. "He's shown signs of doing that."

Running back Vic Enwere, who took a swing pass for 12 yards and bullied through the inside for an 11-yard run during 11-on-11, was also roundly praised, with running backs coach Garret Chachere remarking that the way Enwere was running was completely different from last year; he's keeping his shoulders square and going downhill, instead of trying to get skinny, or wriggle to the outside.


After a scrimmage with young players on Wednesday, the Bears will have another scrimmage on Friday, after practice. That practice will be closed to the public.

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