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Football: Dykes on Wednesday’s workout

Here’s some of what coach Sonny Dykes saw from Wednesday’s second spring practice:

– Overall impression: “I don’t know if we executed as well today as we did Day 1 — certainly not offensively. We turned the ball over a little bit more, but that’s going to happen. We added some new stuff, so guys had to think a little bit. Probably wasn’t as clean as you want it to be. But I thought our effort was good, thought our enthusiasm was good. It’s always going to be a work in progress.”

– On giving all five quarterbacks reps: “The thing you want to do is give everybody an opportunity. These guys work their tails off and you want to make sure they have enough of a chance to show what they can and can’t do. Once you do that, you’ve got to start being a little bit more careful with who you’re giving reps to. The idea is to basically eliminate somebody, two guys, three guys, until we have a starter.”

– On giving a number of injured or recovering players some non-contact time on the field: “We gave them what they could do at the beginning, then got them out of there. Our goal is to teach them as much as we can this spring, but our primary goal is to get them healthy and ready for the fall.”

– On the defense: “I like our guys defensively. I saw some guys really trigger and run to the ball today, which is good. We’ve got a lot of depth at linebacker, a lot of guys who can run around and are athletic, that are pretty physical players. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They seem to know what they’re doing, starting to become more and more active. Our defensive line coming in was a bit of a question mark and I’ve been pretty pleased what I’ve seen out of that group. They’re battling consistency like some other positions, but the talent and want-to is there. I’ve been really pleased with the defense.”

– On Nick Forbes: “He’s what you’re looking for as a middle linebacker. He’s physical and he’s a guy who wants to do well. Just a good teammate. The kind of guy you want to build a program around.”

– On D-lineman Mustafa Jalil: “He’s been active. I think he’s feeling good, moving around pretty good. He showed up a lot the last two days.”

– On the placekicker job: “We’re just going to open it up and compete and see what happens. That’ll go into two-a-days. We’ll come out of spring ball thinking, `Here’s our thoughts on kickoffs, here’s our thoughts on long field goals, here’s our thoughts on short field goals.’ In the ideal situation, somebody handles them all. We’ll kind of see how it plays out. A lot of that changes in the fall when you see whose leg wears out.”

Cal resumes practice Friday night in shoulder pads for the first time.

Jeff Faraudo

  • drizzlyboy

    “– On the defense: “I like our guys defensively. I saw some guys really trigger and run to the ball today, which is good. We’ve got a lot of depth at linebacker, A LOT OF GUYS WHO CAN RUN AROUND AND ARE ATHLETIC, that are pretty physical players. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They seem to know what they’re doing, starting to become more and more active. Our defensive line coming in was a bit of a question mark and I’ve been pretty pleased what I’ve seen out of that group. They’re battling consistency like some other positions, but the talent and want-to is there. I’ve been really pleased with the defense.”

    I know it’s a small thing, but thanks, SD, for avoiding hyperbole. I’m pretty tired of the “everybody is flying around on defense” exaggeration, especially because it seems to be used by every coach/analyst.

    Thanks for the quotes, Jeff.

  • rollonubears

    A lot of this sounded exactly like JT, I thought, except for the competition at QB. I mean, this first quote was vintage JT…

    “I don’t know if we executed as well today as we did Day 1 — certainly not offensively. We turned the ball over a little bit more, but that’s going to happen. We added some new stuff, so guys had to think a little bit. Probably wasn’t as clean as you want it to be. But I thought our effort was good, thought our enthusiasm was good. It’s always going to be a work in progress.”

  • Eric

    @Rollon – that’s a line you hear from virtually every college coach. It is the second paragraph that shows the difference – SD is giving everyone a shot to prove who is the best, and thus far has done exactly that on the practice field.

  • Kotempman

    I’m just as excited as anyone for this team to get better and better while being at ease learning the system, but I have to be realistic and realize we are going to have some growing pains. Yes I dream they can come out and just be awesome but going up against the Oregons and SC and others I am cautiously optimistic. Boy do I wish I am totally wrong!!!!!!!!!

  • Calduke

    Kotern…..

    Unfortunately, You are totally right!!!!!
    We sometimes forget that other teams have good football players.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Depth at LB should be no surprise when it was the teams only strength AND for a 3-4 scheme.

    I hope they don’t screw things up defensively. The good thing would be that the defensive recruiting was good, so it isn’t like starting from scratch. Yet, when LBs is a strength and DL a worry, switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 doesn’t exactly come across as wise.

    I get it, and I know it will take a few years anyways. I know SOME of the LBs with switch to DE effectively, we hope. It still just doesn’t sit well with me.

    As certain I am about the offense improving, I am worried about the D.

  • Wehofx

    Roll, another huge diff between Sonny D and Jt is that despite the canned reply, there were 150+ people inclu all the beat reporters to judge the veracity of the statement for themselves.

    In Sonny D – more and more – I trust.

  • milo

    Frankly the switch to the 4-3 scares me a bit, especially now after SD said there’s lots of LBs. Oh well, just win and it’s all good.

  • rollonubears

    But SD implied it doesn’t really matter where you line up, if we have 10 tight ends, and they’re the best athletes, they’ll make up the offense. So we have a ton of LBs, and we’re making some of them linemen. They’re just lining up a few feet closer. Nothing really changes. I like that about SD. I think we’re going to be awesome this fall, by the way, i just hate hearing canned coach rhetoric, just like you hate to hear your business phone ring after 10 years. you want to smash it with a sledgehammer.

  • Gobears49

    It’s nice to hear that some people are concerned we’re switching from the 3 – 4 on defense to the 4 – 3 when we have a lot more good LB’s than defensive lineman. I think Juancho first brought up that concern when Buh said we were switching to the 4 – 3 defensive formation because that is what he knows best Other people have raised this issue, including two commenters to this blog.

    So, despite what BlueNGold says about it being best to just agree with a coach until he has time to demonstrate what he can do, I think people who have some concerns about practically anything should raise them in this blog, as issues, as that is part what this blog is for and, hopefully, Jeff can get address a few of them when he chats with Dykes from time to time before the season starts.

    What I’d like to know is why we are going to the 4 – 3 given our relative strength at LB compared to the defensive line (though maybe people can disagree with that being a true factual statement) and the fact that Dykes stated preference (at least on offense) is to set up formations and plays that are designed to focus on the strength of his player personnel. Hopefully, we’ll get a straight answer.

  • covinared

    alot of the olb’s were de facto defensive ends at times last year. I don’t think its as radical a change as some suggest.

  • Juancho

    Scarlett and mccain were d lineman coming out of high school.

    The only worry i have for the linebackers moving to defensive ends is whether mccain will get eaten alive taking on an offensive tackle every play. Hes already somewhat injury prone. And he doesnt have the physique scarlett has.

  • covinared

    Mccain needs to frequent king pin and blondies.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Juancho hit the nail on the head.

    Rollon, I, too, like the way Dykes will find the best 11 for offense and design a scheme for them. That approach just doesn’t work on defense, however. You can’t scheme 4-3 without having 4 guys capable of winning in the trench.

    Yes, sometimes McCain lined up at the line as a DE, but always as either a QB rush commit (ignoring the run initially, whether by stunt of outside rush) or as a deke falling back into coverage in a zone blitz package. He was not taking on a tackle on a possible short yardage run.

    The obvious extreme would be a D of 11 McCains (which would be a sickening amount of talent), which would get run over for 4-6 yards a play (or beat deep by WRs).

    Now, Scarlett is built more for DE, but depth at the position remains a big issue.

    Anyways, this is kinda my root concern over Dykes in a nutshell. He KNOWS offense, but his phylosophy may not really mesh with defense.

    While it’s tempting to just trust that the athletes can get it done with a basic scheme, look how U$C did this past year (so they are switching to a 3-4! under Clancy no less!).

    This is not meant to be hypercritical. Just raising my concern, which may be legitimate. Regardless, I do believe the team will be able to compete. Worst case scenario, the D will have to play a high risk, high reward style, going for TOs to make up for giving up big plays or long drives. With the prospects for offensive improvement, that could still do very well.

  • Gobears49

    Wisdom Cow,

    I really don’t follow Cal football in as much as I used to, and so I could be wrong, but with respect to your comment above, I think Cal switched from the 4 – 3 to the 3 – 4 a year or two ago under Clancy. Someone should correct me if I am wrong.

  • Gobears49

    I also think Clancy made the switch, in part, because he came to the conclusion we had more good linebackers than D-lineman.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    GB49,

    The switch happened with Clancy, and the reasons given were twofold, plus 1 worthy of noting. (1) easier recruiting (many more quality LBs than DEs – LBs tend to get more years of PT as well, though what went unsaid was the crucial impetus placed on getting elite NTs for the 3-4) and (2) more flexibility (allowing one to vary looks and coverages).

    They also believed the 3-4 would work better against the spread (which the new regime suggests the 4-3 is better suited for). Now, if your 3-4 can’t stop a spread with a power run capability (like Oregon), you are screwed, but I tend to believe the 3-4 is better suited to compete with the spread.

    Personally, however, I’d like to see a return to the 46 defense whenever the opposition only has 2 wideouts. We had our best Ds when the old Buddy Ryan pressure-up-the-middle system was used, great for creating turnovers. Downside – too many spread teams, and the advent of the intentional back shoulder throw makes it a HUGE gamble to play 1 on 1 against two WRs sets every time.

    Damn you, offensive innovation! You ruined my favorite defense!

  • 707 Bear

    On the defense: Will Coleman, Jalil, and Moala finally live up to the high expectations that have been with them since they arrived at Cal? They’re not kids anymore.

    Go Bears!

  • Juancho

    One minor addendum to the dearest bovines post. It was easier to recruit linebackers than DTs. Not DEs.

  • Gobears49

    I think it would be easier to recruit LB’s because there are relatively so few PEOPLE out there big enough to play defensive line, let alone well.

    So I think there is a general consensus that we have many more good linebackers than defensive lineman and perhaps also that the 3 – 4 is generally considered to be best to defend the spread formation, which seems to dominate offenses now (though I haven’t counted and people could disagree about the prevalence of that formation).

    So when is Jeff going to raise these points to Buh again, to Dykes, or to Buh and Dykes together? Not to say he has to, but it would seem to be good reporting to follow up with someone on the Cal coaching staff on this issue, since it has been discussed so much on this board. Of course, the coaches have the right to coach however they want. That’s their job. I write on this board (and stock market boards) just for fun because I like to write.

  • BombayBear

    NOTE:

    The difference b/w the 3-4 and 4-3 is a blurry and changing thin line. With all the scheme variations, there is no stark contrast. If you’re worried about the 4-3, think about how many times we’ve had LB’s push up to the line and pretty much act as D-linemen. The defense is a more nebulous thing than the offense. Pushing a LB, which is part of many many many D formations/scenarios, ostensibly results in a 4-3.
    So, now instead we will have instances where a DE drops into lurk mode 5 yards back, essentially becoming a LB and ta-da, 3-4. The only difference is the first couple seconds pre-snap.

  • BombayBear

    As for your views on hand-down vs. upright….

  • The Wisdom Cow

    That’s the sales pitch, BombayBear.

    And it’s not pre-snap, it’s post snap where the player drops out (if he drops pre-snap, it tells the QB it’s a zone).

    I’ll readily admit, should Scarlett be physically ready to run-stop as a DE, there won’t be much of an issue with the starting DL. The problem is that a good DL requires depth and a lot of substitutions, or they can be worn down by a few drives.

    Again, this SHOULD only be an issue for a year or two, and even then it’s a depth issue.

    But my real question-fear-concern is that Dykes’ regime holds the same phylosophy for defense that they do for offense, which I don’t think works. Because a defense must react and prevent what the offense is trying to do, there is not much room for creatively utilizing talent.

  • Dan

    Wisdom, you said -

    “Worst case scenario, the D will have to play a high risk, high reward style, going for TOs to make up for giving up big plays or long drives. With the prospects for offensive improvement, that could still do very well.”

    I might be wrong, but I could have sworn I read in a JF interview with Andy Buh (too lazy/busy to go look) that Cal will play more of a (my words) “bend but don’t break’ style of defense. What I recall he specifically said was, (and paraphrasing from memory- maybe I should have just gone back and re-read the interview article) that their philosophy would be to not give up big plays, to keep the action underneath, and make opposing offenses have to execute a lot of successful plays down the field to be able to score.

    To me, that is the exact opposite of of a high risk, high reward defense that forces lots of turnovers. I remember being somewhat bummed/disappointed in the switch to the 4-3 and in what I interpreted as Buh’s seemingly passive philosophy on defense. I foresee our defense on the field for a LOT of plays and minutes. Especially with what will be, we hope, a fast-paced, high tempo, big play, high scoring offense. We score fast, or not, and are on and off the field quickly in either scenario, and our defense is out there for long stretches. Then when they get a 3 and out, our O is on and off again, and the D is right back out there. We better be 2 1/2 to 3 deep across the field on defense, will lots of talent and well conditioned guys on the defensive side.