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Sonny Dykes and Hamilton Anoa'i put Arizona State to bed and turn to Utah

A full transcript of our weekly teleconference with Sonny Dykes, and this week's guest, linebacker Hamilton Anoa'i.

California Golden Bears head coach Sonny Dykes

On Cal’s schedule, with Utah ranked 18, San Diego State 19, Texas 22 and ASU 25: “It’s pretty typical, honestly. You go back and you look at the four years now, since I’ve been here, I don’t think we’ve ever played a schedule outside the top five in the country, so really not that atypical. It’s like we told our guys, we’re a couple of plays away from being 4-0, and if we were 4-0, we’d probably be OK, with a win over the No. 11 team, we’d be ranked pretty high.”

“We didn’t finish a couple ballgames on the road. Unfortunately, that’s kind of what young football teams don’t do, very well. They don’t finish games on the road, so hopefully, we’re going to get this young bunch to grow up a little bit, and figure out how to win these games down the stretch. You can see a little bit of our youth in the game Saturday. We busted some stuff with some young guys, but the schedule, anyways, that’s not atypical. That’s the schedule we’re accustomed to playing, and it is what it is.”

How receptive were they to the message after this week's loss, compared with San Diego State: “Similar. I think we realized that we had opportunities to win the football game, and they know kind of what we need to do better. We just need to do our jobs better. That’s most of the thing – when it becomes a critical situation, young players have a tendency to try to do too much. We just need to do our job and stay within the framework of what we’re supposed to do. We’ve had some guys, at some inopportune times, try to do a little bit too much, and the sign of a confident, mature team, is that they realize they don’t have to do anything special. They just have to do their job. We’re getting there, hopefully.”

On health of cornerback Darius Allensworth and safety Evan Rambo: “Allensworth is fine. Rambo, we’re not sure. We’re waiting to hear back from the doctors. He’s got a sprained knee. It’s a wait-and-see thing.”

Allensworth not in the second half: “He wasn’t feeling great. Had a thigh contusion.”

Young players performance in place of Rambo and Allensworth: “I thought OK. I think we’ve had some issues at safety. You look at this year, our starting two safeties ought to be Griffin Piatt and Damariay Drew. Those are two guys that have been battle tested and played a lot of football, and have been good players for us, but unfortunately, we don’t have either on of those guys, and they were two of the better players on our team. We’ve had a little bit of depth issues at that spot, and we’re a little bit young. Evan’s playing a lot for a young guy. Khari Vanderbilt has done some good things. We’ve just got to get some of the young guys to step up a little bit, if Evan ends up being out for a while. Jaylinn Hawkins is hopefully starting to figure some things out. He’s certainly a good enough athlete to be a productive player back there. Jacob Anderson Anderson did some good things back there the other night, and has been productive for us, as well. It’s just unfortunate that we’ve had some issues with depth at safety. We haven’t had many injuries this year, but it seems like all the injuries have been at that one particular position.”

On Arizona State bracketing Chad Hansen, and Davis Webb going to other receivers in the second half: “There was a lot of safety rolls over the top to his side, in particular. Arizona State’s corners are good. They’re tough to get off press, they use their hands well they’re pretty physical guys. Chad, to catch 10 balls, versus when people are playing press, that’s kind of atypical. Normally, when corners are pressing a lot, you may not catch as many balls, but usually for a little bit more yards, because there’s a tendency to make a couple more big plays. But, I thought it was good to see Demetris [Robertson] score two touchdowns, good to see Brandon Singleton score. I felt like we’re getting more consistent at the X position, for sure. I thought Patrick Worstell made two nice catches, that was good to see. I thought our play inside was a little bit inconsistent.”

“We had some guys that probably didn’t play as well as they’re accustomed to playing, dropped some balls, especially in the first half. I think we dropped five balls in the first half.”

“Going into halftime, we had a 14-point lead, but I was really disappointed it wasn’t a much bigger lead. I felt like we had opportunities in the first half to really pull ahead, and get way out in front, that we missed. We got a turnover and a short field and missed a field goal. We had some opportunities to really distance ourselves from them in the first half, and didn’t do it. Any time that you have that, that typically will bite you in your rear end. But, I thought Davis was kind of forced to go the X’s a little bit more, and I think they performed pretty well.”

On Steven Moore at right tackle: “Steven’s been really consistent. He’s played a lot of football for us, and he’s certainly playing his best football right now. He’s just a mature, strong, kind of steady presence for us. He’s been through a lot, seen a lot of stuff, and I think he certainly does things the right way. He’s a great role model for all these young players who play for us. I think he’s having a good year, I really do. I think he’s been a real consistent guy, and I’m looking forward for him continuing to play well and keep on improving.”

On Les Miles being fired: “Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s tough to see coaches get fired in September. I think that just speaks to the nature of our business now. Les has obviously had lots of success at LSU, and I saw coach Turner got fired at Florida International, as well, and Notre Dame changed defensive coordinators. I think it just shows the amount of pressure in our business nowadays. You hate to see anybody get fired. Everybody works hard, and it’s a job, and you hate to see it. I never thought I’d see a day where guys lost their job in September, but I guess that’s what it’s come to.”

On running back Khalfani Muhammad only getting three carries in the second half: “Khalfani’s kind of banged up. He had a leg injury. I’m not sure exactly what it was. He played great, outstanding in the first half, and I think that hurt us when he went out, because this is one of those games where the smaller, quicker back was going to be effective, based on the scheme and personnel, so he had a lot of success the first half, and I thought it really hurt us in the second half when he wasn't able to go as much.”

Linebacker Hamilton Anoa'i

On bouncing back from this loss like bouncing back from San Diego State: "Like coach Dykes mentioned earlier today, losing has its good and its bad. One thing we tried to focus on was the positives that we got out of the loss, and clean up the mistakes, so that we won't make them again this season."

On the 12-hour rule: "Basically, the 12-hour rule, win or loss, that game is in the past. We're on to the next game. It's a long season, and we can't dwell on the past. We're just moving forward."

The run defense held Arizona State to about 100 yards less than their season average, what can you take from what you were able to do against that kind of running offense to Utah, which averages 173.5 yards per game on the ground, and was part of it that they had Kalen Ballage out for much of the first half: "I don't think it was so much we were scheming on a certain player. Most of it was just we prepared well during the week, and I think our run defense held its ground. Basically, it was the best that we've been so far in the season, and I think that as far as my contribution, coming off of an injury, I'm trying to slowly make my way back into an increase on my reps. I'm trying to do the best I can."

What about the scheme was so effective: "I would say that we kind of expected what they were going to do each play. There was nothing that was a surprise to us throughout the game. We kind of knew what was going to happen, and that helped a lot."

What's the difference in facing a rushing quarterback like Manny Wilkins and a pocket passer like Troy Williams (17 net rushing yards on the season): "I would say the fact that we were facing a dual-threat quarterback, at any moment, he could take off and go. We definitely took that into account this week, as we tried to keep him contained by having some of our linebackers spy on him, or just keep contain from where we were at, rather than facing a quarterback like San Diego State, where we weren't too concerned about that. It's always a risk, when we play those quarterbacks, because you never know when they're going to take off and go."

On his injury: "I tore my ACL back in the Oregon game of last season, so I missed every game after Oregon, so three or four games after that, and also, I didn't play in the first game this season, against Hawaii." Top Stories