Coach Sonny Dykes saw imperfections, but mostly plenty to be encouraged about during the Bears’ first practice of fall camp.
“It was good. A little rough around the edges, but that’s what you’d expect,” Dykes said after the two-hour session. “We (played) about a thousand guys, so it wasn’t bad for the first time out. I was pleasantly surprised in some ways.
**** Here’s a photo slideshow from Monday’s practice ****
“I was just talking to (offensive coordinator) Tony Franklin about this — I thought we were technique-wise ahead of schedule. I saw a lot of good things. We’ve played around over the summer with a little bit of stuff we’re doing and you could tell there was a little bit of a learning curve.
“But I thought it was good. Our attitude was really good, the hustle was good, the effort was good. I thought the guys were hungry. I thought defensively, getting some of those guys back that weren’t there in the spring, gave us a little bit more depth. At least it looked like it today. I saw some positive things.”
This was not only the Bears’ first fall practice, but the first Dykes has conducted at Cal with a season just around the corner. He looked like a man who was enjoying himself.
“It’s an exciting time. It’s fun to see how much better they’ve gotten since spring. I thought they’d probably worked hard and you could see that they did. They really paid attention to details,” Dykes said.
“These guys are hungry and they’re anxious to get back out and kind of get a bad taste out of their mouth. I like the way they’ve done everything we’ve asked them.
“It’s fun when your players are into it and you’re not having to come out here and beg them to practice. They had a lot of fun practicing and competing against each other. That makes our job a lot easier.”
The Bears will practice four weeks before their Aug. 31 opener at home against Northwestern. I asked him if that game seems like it’s on the doorstep.
“It seems like it’s about a hundred years away, but it’s not. It’ll start to creep up on us faster,” he said. “Our training camp’s about us, about us getting better. We’re not worried about who we’re playing. Northwestern’s obviously a real good football team.
“We’ve got to make sure we prepare ourselves and not worry about them as much. We have a long way to go. There’s a lot of things we have to work out. But I thought today was a really good start.”
— Dykes got his first look at RB Brendan Bigelow, who missed spring ball while rehabbing following knee surgery. “It was good to see him back,” Dykes said. “He showed some flashes of what you saw on film. He’s a little rusty still. I thought he moved well. I thought he had a lot of confidence on his knee. I didn’t sense any hesitation at all — that’s probably the most important thing.”
— Dykes said sophomore LT Freddie Tagaloa played without a helmet Monday because he’s just getting over an ear infection. He will be in a helmet Tuesday.
— Among the freshmen, Dykes gave high marks to LB Johnny Ragin, WR Trevor Davis, RB Khalfani Muhammad and CB Cameron Walker.