Although the Bears had a bye last week, Episode 3 of “The Drive,” which ran Wednesday evening on the Pac-12 Networks, had some very good moments.
Reserve quarterback Joey Mahalic’s impersonation of offensive coordinator Tony Franklin during the Rookie Talent Show was hilarious.
There also was a terrific segment where coach Sonny Dykes talked to the team about the difference between being injured and merely hurt. Clearly, the Bears’ injury epidemic is weighing on the first-year coach.
“Every player within the course of a football game is going to get hurt,” Dykes told them. “You’re going to get hit, you’re going to get dinged, you’re going to twist your ankle, you’re going to get your shoulder jammed, you’re going to get hit in the mouth.
“Whatever it is, at some point during the game that’s going to happen to you. And for us to be where we want to be as a program and have a chance to be a championship program, the No. 1 thing we have to be is tough.
“But we have an issue right now in terms of injuries and understanding the difference between being injured and hurt. Until we understand the difference as a program, we’re going to have some issues, guys. I don’t know how else to say it.”
The scene immediately cut to Dykes on the field with his arm wrapped around the shoulder of linebacker Khairi Fortt, who has battled through a couple of nagging health issues since fall camp began.
His very candid comments:
“You’ve got to decide you’re ready to become a football player. That’s the only thing holding you back right now,” said Dykes, clearly trying to encourage Fortt. “We’ve got 122 players, all these coaches, 475,000 alums, 30,000 students, we’re all waiting for you to become a player. You know what I mean? It’s time.
“You can be, you should be, you oughta be, but right now you’re not. It’s a decision you’re going to have to make. You’re going to make it, I just want you to make it sooner instead of later. OK. So let’s wake up tomorrow and say, you know what, today’s the day.”
Then a similar on-field counseling session with running back Brendan Bigelow, who is yet to cut loose, perhaps still worried about the knee he had surgically repaired last spring.
“Just go, make a decision (to) go,” Dykes told him. “And when you go, that puts a whole lot of pressure on the defense.
“I’m going to ask you like 10 times every day: What are you going to do? You say, `Play fast. Trust myself. Play fast.’ ”
After Wednesday’s practice, Dykes said Fortt and redshirt freshman Michael Barton are waging a competitive battle for the starting WILL linebacker job.
He said both will play at Oregon, but noted, “I think Fortt is improving.”