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Two weeks of training camp down and two to go before Cal’s Aug. 30 football opener at Northwestern, and coach Sonny Dykes was in a good mood after Saturday’s closed scrimmage.
“I feel good walking off the field,” he said. “I think we’re at a good spot.”
The Bears ran between 60 and 70 plays in front of referees, and kept mistakes to a minimum, Dykes said.
“I was encouraged by what I saw,” he said. “Just the speed of play – we moved around fast. I thought we tackled well.”
By mid-week, the Bears will begin preparation for Northwestern, which beat them 44-30 in Berkeley last year. “We’ve snuck some Northwestern stuff in without telling our players,” Dykes said.
The players get Sunday off after 15 straight days of training camp, but they can’t help but be excited about what’s around the corner. “We’re trying to beat Northwestern right now,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “We have nothing in our heads besides that.”
Dykes said the cornerback position is beginning to take shape, with sophomore Cameron Walker set one side and JC transfer Darius White expected to begin practicing more this week after jamming his shoulder on the first day of camp.
Redshirt freshman Darius Allensworth had a great week of practice, said Dykes, who called sophomore Cedric Dozier possibly “the most improved player” on the entire roster. “He’s playing with some confidence,” Dykes added.
Dykes all but confirmed that freshman Luke Rubenzer has won the No. 2 quarterback spot. “I would say so. His play has been really consistent,” Dykes said. “He doesn’t get rattled at all. In a 7-on-7 setting he looks OK. Then you get him in a team setting and he gets the team first downs.”
Few newcomers on the roster earned more mention from Dykes the first week of workouts than Arthur Wainwright, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound outside linebacker from Ellenwood, Georgia, by way of College of the Sequoias.
He was fast, aggressive, in the mix.
Then Week 2 arrived, and Wainwright faded a bit.
“It’s a learning curve,” defensive coordinator Art Kaufman said of Wainwright, who didn’t arrive on campus until days before the start of camp because he had JC course work to complete. “We’ve got a lot of our stuff in and it’s probably overload for him.”
“Sometimes I have to sit back and take a deep breath and just settle down,” Wainwright acknowledged.
Wainwright impressed Kaufman on a campus visit to Visalia during the spring by soaring more than 10 feet in the standing broad jump — without warming up and while wearing Vans tennis shoes.
“A guy that can jump is an athlete,” Kaufman said. “He’s got speed and explosiveness. When you turn the film on, you know he’s going hard and he brings some things to the table.”
The coaches are convinced Wainwright will be a factor this season, on special teams and in specific defensive situations.
Wainwright is anxious to accelerate the timetable. “The thing about me is I have a motor,” he said. “Once I get rolling, I’ll catch up. Once I catch up, it’s over.”
Senior defensive end Kyle Kragen, who lost more than 25 pounds over the summer during a bout with mononucleosis, could be redshirted this season, Dykes said.