Coach Sonny Dykes was smiling and encouraged Saturday after the Bears’ longest scrimmage session of spring ball.
Cal ran close to 90 live plays during a closed workout, and Dykes saw things he liked on both sides of the ball.
“I actually thought it was really good, thought it was clean for the most part,” Dykes told reporters afterward. “We didn’t have a ton of penalties. Thought the guys executes pretty well on both sides. Had some big plays on offense.
“I thought defensively we did a lot of good things. Gave up a couple big plays — we’ve got to get those fixed. I like the way guys are running around, flying to the ball. Our tackling’s much improved.”
Dykes said the Bears will run another 60 to 70 live plays during Wednesday’s workout, then about the same number next Saturday when they host what they are calling the Cal Spring Football Experience, wrapping up spring workouts.
“We’re getting a lot of live work done and I think it’s helping us,” Dykes said.
He’s also pleased that the team has not sustained any significant injuries during spring ball, despite running perhaps three times as many live plays as a year ago.
“It shows our team is in better shape, more physically developed, stronger,” he said. I’m excited about the progress we’re making that way.”
The Bears expect to announce their first depth chart perhaps on Wednesday, Dykes said. But more important than who is starting will be making sure the Bears have their best players on the field.
“We want to see who are best players are and make sure they aren’t all playing the same position,” he said.
Dykes said sophomore quarterback Jared Goff, who had offseason surgery to repair a shoulder separation, has hit his stride.
“The last week and a half he’s really starting to come on,” Dykes said. “He was rusty early. Offensively, we were rusty early. He hadn’t been throwing a lot, so he wasn’t as sharp as he has been.
“I thought last week he was back to his old self, and this week he has improved.”
There still is little separation between Austin Hinder and Kyle Boehm in the duel for the No. 2 quarterback, Dykes said.
With sophomore Jacobi Hunter’s future with the team in question, senior Harrison Wilfley has emerged at defensive tackle.
“Wilfley has been probably our most consistent defensive tackle all spring. I love what he’s doing,” Dykes said.
Currently 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, Wilfley could be up to 280 by next season.
“He’s a guy we think has a chance to be a real good football player,” Dykes said.
Wilfley had a strong spring in 2013 as well, but was sprained a shoulder in fall camp and missed all of last season. He was granted a medical red-shirt, regaining the year of eligibility.
“He’s a different guy,” Dykes said. “He’s playing physical, playing tough, playing determined. I really like what he’s doing.”
The Bears anticipate the August return of Mustafa Jalil, sitting out this spring to rehab after knee surgery. If healthy, Jalil figures to be a starter at one of the two defensive tackle spots.
Hunter, who played in every game and started twice last season as freshman, is taking time away from the team to address a personal issue, Dykes said Friday.