The Cal Spring Football Experience on Saturday was a little tough to define.
“It wasn’t practice, it wasn’t a game, it was a little weird,” quarterback Jared Goff said.
“It’s very weird,” said senior running back Daniel Lasco, an 1,100-yard rusher last season who did not carry the ball once in the often scripted format. “The schedule was weird. I wish we would have knew what was going on. (I thought) we’re just going to put the ball out here and start playing.
“I guess in the end it was all good.”
The two-hour event at Memorial Stadium, attended by about 1,000 fans and televised by the Pac-12 Networks, included just 52 snaps in full 11-on-11 tackle mode. Otherwise, there were situational plays, 7-on-7 drills without tackling, plus punts and field goals.
Coach Sonny Dykes came away pleased because the team achieved what it wanted and no one was injured. And that’s no small consideration in spring ball.
“We tried to make it as fan-friendly as possible, but the important thing was get work done, take care of our players. I thought we accomplished that,” he said.
Dykes said the Bears simply don’t have enough healthy defensive backs to run a full-fledged scrimmage. He also noted that he watched USC scrimmage recently and “they didn’t tackle one person the whole time.
“Spring games are what they are,” he said. “I don’t think people necessarily come for the football. They come to enjoy interacting with the players.”
The most encouraging news to come out of the event was the performance of a defensive unit the Bears are hoping has made strides. The offense scored just one touchdown in seven full drives, that one coming on Jared Goff’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Treggs.
“At times this spring the offense has probably had their way with the defense,” Dykes said. “I think it was good for it to happen like it happened today. To me, the last three or four practices, our defense was a different unit than it was the first 10.”
Goff, who was 9 for 13 for 108 yards, said he’s very encouraged by the improvement of a defense that allowed 39.8 points a game last season.
”It’s good to see,” Goff said. “You want to win when you’re playing against them but when they make plays you’re not too disappointed.”
Quarterback-turned safety Luke Rubenzer, who had an interception in 7on 7 drills, said he’s comfortable playing either position next fall.
“To be honest, I guess I’m a little of both,” he said. “I came in with the mindset if they moved me to defense 100 percent, I’m on the field playing defense. If they want to play me both ways, I’ll play both ways. Doesn’t matter to me.”
Sophomore Jack Austin, who including a nice diving catch in his day’s continues to make inroads into a deep receiving corp. Dykes said Austin was as improved as any player on the team this spring.