Football: Wednedsay practice update

Disclaimer: I did not attend Cal’s practice today. But here are some highlights from coach Sonny Dykes’ post-practice remarks:

Dykes said he’s been very pleased with practice all week, noting particularly that it’s “been our best week defensively, by far.”

He explained he spent much of Monday and Tuesday at the defensive end of the field, primarily to assist the scout team because he’s so familiar with Washington State’s Air Raid offense.


Quarterbacks Jared Goff and Zach Kline, sharing reps with the first team, both have practiced well this week, said Dykes, who expects to formally name a starter on Thursday. Figure it will be Goff.

“He’s pretty unflappable,” Dykes said of the true freshman, who has started every game so far. “Zach’s really had a good week of practice. I’m really happy with the way Zach’s responded, really happy with the way Jared’s responded.”

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Football: Quarterbacks Goff, Kline both benefiting from shared practice time this week

Sonny Dykes’ decision to split reps in practice this week between quarterbacks Jared Goff and Zach Kline was the right thing to do.

And the smart thing.

After visiting Tuesday post-practice with both players, it’s clear each has benefited from the arrangement.

Goff has been given a gentle reminder that he must continue to hone his game, even after the true freshman delivered such prolific numbers through the Bears’ first three games. Goff certainly has kept a good head on his shoulders the past month, but this type of push for a young player is always a good thing.

And Kline, once expected to be the starter this season, has a new sense of excitement, a renewed belief in what is possible after getting the chance to take over late in the first quarter of Saturday’s 55-16 loss at Oregon.

More important, he is sent a message that the coaching staff values him and wants him to remain at Cal to compete and help his team.

Goff said it took him about one day to dismiss Saturday’s performance in the rains at Oregon, during which he accounted for two of the Bears’ four lost fumbles on their first four possessions.

“Sunday was a little rough, but after that … I came out and practiced (Monday) and I was fine,” Goff said. “I was disappointed, just upset at myself. After that, I was over it.

“All my family and friends were very supportive. They said don’t worry about it, just move on. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo

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Football: Cal defense welcomes chance to play quarterback who doesn’t run the ball

Cal’s defense has endured a steady diet of running quarterbacks through its first four games, but that changes on Saturday when pass-happy Washington State visits Memorial Stadium.

“Now we can let all the dogs loose, go up field and go get ’em,” defensive tackle Viliami Moala said. “Let the big men up front eat first.”

It only seems like the Cougars (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) throw the ball on every play. WSU coach Mike Leach — co-originator of the Air Raid offense that is the basis for what Cal (1-3, 0-1) now does — has his team throwing the ball about 77 percent of the time.

Click here to read the rest of my Cal notebook.

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Football: Goff, Kline share 1st-team practice reps; Dykes says McCain decision not for single event

Two days after Oregon’s defense and a severe rainstorm sent Cal quarterback Jared Goff to the bench, the Bears had Goff and Zach Kline share practice time on Monday.

Coach Sonny Dykes said after the 55-16 loss to the Ducks that Goff likely would remain the starter.

“If I had to make a guess, that’d be my guess,” Dykes said Monday, when asked to speculate on who will start Saturday against Washington State. “We’ll see how they perform this week. We felt like Zach warranted some more reps.”

Meanwhile, Dykes explained he booted junior defensive end Chris McCain from the team Sunday following “a series of things that date back for a while.”

He said there was no single incident during or after the Oregon game that sparked the decision, but declined to provide further details.

“Anytime you do that it’s a very difficult decision because it has an impact on a young person’s life,” said Dykes, adding that McCain will be kept on scholarship this year and continue to attend classes.

Senior nose tackle Deandre Coleman said he was surprised by the move.

“The team was hurt. He’s a friend, he’s a brother,” Coleman said. “Coach is always going to do what he feels is best for the team. Most guys understood. I understand. I’m a team player.”

Goff, who lost two fumbles in the first quarter at Oregon, practiced some wearing a glove. “It may be something he decides to do, may be something he hates,” Dykes said.

Goff was the nation’s total offense leader as a true freshman through three games. Kline, a redshirt freshman, completed 18 of 37 passes for 165 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his college debut.

Monday’s practice ended nearly a half-hour early because of a campus-wide power outage that prevented use of lights at Menorial Stadium.

Starting right tackle Steven Moore (head), cornerback Kam Jackson (lower leg) and reserve running back Khalfani Muhammad (head) were on the sideline, but Dykes said he he expects all three to play Saturday.

Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo


Football: Hinder playing the role as Bears prep for force of nature that is Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

Third-string quarterback Austin Hinder has played the role of Oregon star Marcus Mariota on the scout team this week in practice.

Mobile and fast, Hinder seemed the obvious choice.

“Hinder did a good job of operating it. He moves around pretty good,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “I don’t know if he moves quite like their guy moves.

“If you’ve got a guy like that he’s going to be playing for you. He’s not going to be running the scout team.”

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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.”

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Football: Tony Franklin easing into Berkeley, pushing Cal offense to go faster and faster

As offensive coordinator for the Cal football team, Tony Franklin is the mastermind of the Bear Raid attack, notable for its ferocious tempo.

But there are times when Franklin takes his foot off the gas pedal.

He slows it down while savoring his daily walk through campus from BART to his office at Memorial Stadium. One day he stopped to listen at a rally protesting potential U.S. military intervention in Syria.

A 56-year-old native of Kentucky, Franklin has quickly adjusted to the campus often best-known for Telegraph Avenue and the birth of the Free Speech Movement. He’s not concerned with what he wears or if he shaves daily.

Asked if anyone has suggested that he has a Berkeley vibe, Franklin said, “I know I do. The voice just doesn’t reflect it. I absolutely love living here. I just love the openness of the young people.”

Click here to read the rest of this story.


A look at how teams improved after Tony Franklin was hired as offensive coordinator:

At Troy

— 2005: The year before Franklin arrived, the Trojans were 4-7 and averaged 15.9 points and 285.1 yards per game.

— 2006: In Franklin’s first season, the Trojans were 8-5 and averaged 22.8 points and 319.9 yards.

— 2007: In his second season, they were 8-4 and averaged 34.0 points and 452.8 yards.

At Middle Tennessee

— 2008: The year before Franklin arrived, the Blue Raiders were 5-7 and averaged 22.8 points and 349.9 yards.

— 2009: In Franklin’s first season, the Blue Raiders were 10-3 and averaged 32.0 points and 421.7 yards.

At Louisiana Tech

— 2009: The year before Franklin (and head coach Sonny Dykes) arrived, the Bulldogs were 4-8 and averaged 29.2 points and 375.8 yards.

— 2010: In Franklin’s first season, the Bulldogs were 5-7 and averaged 26.8 points and 389.9 yards.

— 2011: In Franklin’s second season, they were 8-5 and averaged 30.6 points and 397.5 yards.

— 2012: In Franklin’s third season, they were 9-3 and averaged 51.5 points and 577.9 yards.

At Cal

— 2012: The year before Franklin (and Dykes) arrived, the Bears were 3-9 and averaged 23.0 points and 391.2 yards.

— 2013: In Franklin’s first season, the Bears are 1-2 and averaging 33.7 points and 556.0 yards.


Football: Ducks impressed by Goff, Golden Bears, but not terribly fearful of Cal’s tempo

Oregon is impressed by what Cal has achieved on offense this season, but the Ducks don’t seem concerned about the Bears’ fast pace.

“We’ve seen guys snap the ball fast before, and it’s not going to make our guys instantly uncomfortable,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich told reporters this week.

“You can see in some of these other games there’s teams that aren’t lined up or trying to substitute at the wrong time. Hopefully, that’s not something that throws us off too much.”

Oregon scores at a faster tempo than almost any team in the country, but Helfrich took notice of the Bears’ average of 94.7 plays per game.

“We can’t match that,” he said. “Hopefully our guys are used to playing up-tempo. Our communication, how we do those things different, hopefully pays off in a situation like this.”

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Football: Bears expecting a `fun’ trip to Oregon

It is seemingly a five-star recipe for a colossal mismatch, but the Cal football team embraces the confluence of obstacles arriving Saturday night at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.

The Golden Bears (1-2), with as many as seven true freshmen in the rotation, will play their first road game of their season in their Pac-12 opener against No. 2 Oregon, the nation’s second-highest scoring team.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” said Cal freshman quarterback Jared Goff, the nation’s total offense leader.

The Ducks (3-0) are 36-point favorites.

“Our guys are excited. I’m excited,” first-year Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “There’s a little bit of an unknown to see how we can handle it. It’s a tough environment. It’ll be a challenge for us.”

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