Cal worked out in shoulder pads and helmets for its 13th of 15 spring practices on Monday and coach Sonny Dykes continued to see improvement.
“I thought we had a pretty good day,” he said. “It was competitive, a pretty physical day. Everything’s smoother, timing is better, execution is better, things are happening faster.
“You can kind of see it starting to take hold and that’s encouraging.”
The Bears will hold practice in full pads on Wednesday, then again for Saturday’s spring finale. They will scrimmage on both days.
Cal also expects to release a two-deep chart on Wednesday.
Dykes is seeing consistent progress from a defense that was among the nation’s worst last season.
“Our guys are competing, especially on the back end,” he said. “Our young players, the corners and safeties, have really improved. It’s much more competitive now.
“The thing we’ve got to do is just limit the big plays. If we can make people drive the football, then I think our defense will be where it needs to be.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done, a lot of guys have got to improve. But I’m liking the progress we’ve been making.”
The Bears allowed 45.9 points per game last season, and consistently were victimized by long scoring plays.
Junior defensive end Puka Lopa sprained his ankle during Saturday’s practice and may not practice again this spring, Dykes said.
Sophomore running back Khalfani Muhammad is not certain to participate Saturday because he could be running with the track team in Cal’s Brutus Hamilton meet.
Dykes said he’s not concerned, suggesting that Muhammad is in football shape and has gotten plenty of practice time this spring.