The Bears wrapped up three days of workouts this week with a scrimmage on Thursday, giving them some live action during a bye week.
“We wanted some of our starting defensive players to tackle live. That’s obviously something we’ve got to work on,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “Feel like we need to stay fresh, so that was good. Saw lots of positive things from that.”
In particular, the Bears continued the process of mixing in freshmen. Linebacker Edward Tandy had an interception for a touchdown, and Chad Whitener earned praise from Dykes. Both will play more and more, he said.
“That’s something we’ll continue to do with the young players, now that they know what they’re doing to an extent,” Dykes said.
The team will take Friday and Saturday off, then return to practice Sunday in preparation for its Sept. 28 road game vs. No. 2 Oregon.
Dykes said the past three days of practice have been sharp and productive.
“I’ve been really pleased. The players have worked hard,” he said. “The open week, especially after a tough loss, can sometimes be a little bit of a mixed blessing. Guys sometimes don’t respond well to open weeks.
“I’ve been really, really pleased with how the guys have prepared this week. We’ve definitely gotten better. And it’s allowed us to get a little bit healthier.”
Dykes said once more that he’s encouraged by his team’s resiliency after a loss to Ohio State, and pleased with their work ethic. More than that, he’s seeing a team that beginning to understand how to approach practice.
“They’ve got to continue to learn how to work, pay attention to details. You’re starting to see some guys not only know what to do now, but use some technique, which will help us to get better,” he said.
Although defense has been a priority, Dykes sees continued development on the other side of the ball.
“Our offense to me is starting to get close to operating at full speed,” he said. “There have been times when our tempo has been decent, but the execution hasn’t been maybe as crisp as it needed to be.
“I saw some signs where I was really pleased with the speed at which guys were playing. Routes were crisp, throws were on time and in the right spot. Looked to me like the offense is really starting to come around.”