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Football: Some candid moments in `The Drive’

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.”

Jeff Faraudo

  • Aubear

    Now that is REAL coaching!

  • stay golden

    Great to hear Sonny tell it like it is.

  • raf

    Such a contrast in coaching styles on the show. Not sure which is better. The crazy man vs the simpleton. Don’t want to disparage our coach, football ain’t rocket science, but he’s not the most eloquent. When speaking to Bob Melvin about metrics and stats he uses… “Yeah we do a lot of looking at… stuff and studying.” Ha.

    Franklin looks legit; Buh clueless. I miss Pendergast.

  • BlueNGold

    I disagree that Buh is clueless. Its poor execution and uninspired play on D that needs significant improvement. Coaching is certainly part of it but its on the players as well. Injuries are a factor but the people further down on the depth chart have to step up. Cal needs to play some inspired defense.

  • ConcordBear

    The constant in our program is the players. Many are soft, especially on D.
    These guys need to become football players or they will be recruited over and lose their spot.
    NFL dreams and a degree from Cal with a good reputation should be every players goal.
    Even if you don’t make the nfl, graduating with a hard working, tough winning reputation will open tons of doors to former UC student athletes.
    These current guys need to start taking advantage of the tremendous opportunity they have!

  • Dan

    Really well said ConcordBear, I completely agree.

    Also, watching Sonny, Franklin & the Bears on The Drive is very enlightening, interesting and at times gripping. I find it almost as fascinating that ASU shares every episode with the Bears- part of me wishes it was just Cal, the rest of me loves seeing behind the scenes what another “trying to build” PAC 12 program is doing in comparison and contrasting what we see with Cal. It’s really great tv, I wish each episode was longer-it’s a fast 30 minutes.

    The poignancy of the moments detailed in the article (really well done JF) is must see tv for Cal fans. What refreshing access compared to what TedFraud (sorry, couldn’t help myself on this topic). Sonny is imploring his guys to step up, he’s asking them to grow up, to become men, to do what is necessary to become champions. It’s all really terrific real reality tv.

    Two other quick comments-

    1). Very impressed also with what Todd Graham is doing, ASU seems to really building something, their young OC seems to be the real deal.

    2). The quality of coaching, philosophies and on field performance is unlike I’ve ever seen in this conference. And several programs are are still on the rise, i dont think there are going to be too many gimmes in conference play in the near future. The only exception right now is SC is not SC.

    Someone wrote recently that Tedford would have struggled to be .500 with this caliber of coaching- well he wasn’t .500 in conference in his final years, and Cal would absolutely be bottom of the barrel by this season or next if he was still here. I have high hopes that Cal
    will be in that top echelon in the next 2-3 years. But Dykes, Franklin & Co. certainly have their work cut out for them.

  • Eric

    @Dan +1

    Other than U$C, it seems as though every Pac-12 team is committed to doing better, and is in fact doing better. I had thought at the start of the season we’d definitely pick up wins against Colorado, Arizona, and Washington State.

    Washington State definitely is no longer a gimme. In some ways, Leach last year is Dykes this year (except we have a far harder schedule). Leach did not do great last year, but the season ended on the high note of upsetting Washington. And now they almost beat Auburn in Aburn, “upset” U$C at USC, and easily win their cupcake. Will be tough to win.

    Tomorrow will tell us more about Arizona and Colorado.

  • Larry

    Tedford will be hired as the head coach at U$C next year when Lame Kiffin is fired.