Football: Citing Kenny Lawler, coach Sonny Dykes extolls value of Bears’ improved consistency

Coach Sonny Dykes talked about consistency in his program on Monday, initially focusing on the progress of one player, then explaining how it’s critical to the entire squad.

“It’s really about coming out and knowing what you’re going to get, guys being consistent. That’s where we’ve grown up as a football team,” Dykes said.

“We’ve got guys who have made some plays in the past, but now they’re consistent football players. Kenny Lawler is somebody that comes to mind,” he said of the junior wide receiver, who led the Bears in catches, receiving yards and TD receptions last season.

“Kenny has made a lot of flashy catches and done some good things around here, but he hasn’t always been an incredibly consistent football player. I was talking to Kenny, and Kenny’s had 18 good practices and one OK practice this fall camp. That’s dramatic improvement.

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Football: Thursday practice wrapup

I wasn’t at practice Thursday, but here are some highlights from coach Sonny Dykes’ visit with reporters:

On how the team performed after a day off Wednesday: “We looked fast today. That’s what you want to see when you give a day off, is you want to see them come back and take advantage of it, let the bodies heal up a little bit and play fast, and we played fast.

“I’m very pleased with where we are this many practices in and our ability to move fast and play fast. I think it speaks volumes about our summer conditioning.”


Dykes said MLB Nick Forbes missed practice to see a doctor about his back, which has bothered him for more than a week. “We expect him to be out there more and more as we progress,” Dykes said.


There is no concrete update on safety Avery Sebastian, injured during Monday’s scrimmage. “Nothing new,” Dykes said. “He was out here at practice today and I think he’s feeling much better. We will just kind of see how he progresses. No timetable on his return.”

Dykes declined to cite a specific diagnosis and, when asked if Sebastian suffered a concission, said, “I don’t know. We’ll see … I think they’re still trying to get all that stuff diagnosed.”

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Football: Bears respond with what Dykes calls `probably the best practice we’ve had’

A day after the Bears watched teammate Avery Sebastian taken away in an ambulance after being injured in a scrimmage, they delivered what coach Sonny Dykes called “probably the best practice we’ve had this year, maybe since I’ve been here.”

Dykes said he and his staff were concerned about how the players might respond following Monday’s difficult circumstances.

 “They were ready. They answered the call today in a big way,” he said. “Very, very productive practice. I was really pleased with the way we came out and worked today.”

Dykes was pleased despite the fact he had a number of players absent from practice in order to attend to academics as the end of the summer session approaches.

“The way they’ve practiced so far, it’s OK. They’ve come out and worked hard,” he said. “Obviously, academics is going to be critical for us. We’re going to let them go when they have to take care of something.”

Asked if any players are on the fence academically and could be at risk, Dykes said, “I don’t think so, no. A couple guys if they had a disastrous summer school might be in question, possibly Moose (Mustafa Jalil), possibly Chris McCain.

“But they’re both doing fine in their classes and anticipate them being with us.”


— Dykes said the quarterback race between Zach Kline and Jared Goff remains close enough that he doesn’t anticipate naming a starter before the end of the week.

Goff got most of the reps Tuesday with the first team, but Dykes said that will be reversed on Wednesday.

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Football: Kline, Goff now in 2-man QB race

Zach Kline and Jared Goff are the last two standing in the race for Cal’s starting quarterback job.

Coach Sonny Dykes told reporters after Sunday’s seventh practice of fall camp that Kline and Goff have separated themselves from junior Austin Hinder and will duel for the job.

“Zach and Jared will get the majority of the first team reps. They’ll split it up. And Austin won’t get as many,” Dykes said. “We’ll let those two guys kind of compete and see what happens between the two of them.”

Dykes said he has been pleased with all three quarterbacks and said Hinder probably improved the most over the summer. “But right now, Zach and Jared have kind of set themselves apart,” he said.

During team periods Sunday, Kline was 5 for 6 for 124 yards and two touchdowns and Goff was 10 for 13 for 77 yards.

The Bears will hold their first fully padded scrimmage Monday at 4:30 p.m.  The scrimmage is open to the public. Cal is asking fans to refrain from taking photos or video during practice.

Dykes said he anticipates virtually all of his players getting some opportunity to participate, including running back Brendan Bigelow, who had knee surgery last spring and has been held out of some action the past week.

“I think it’s probably important to get Bigelow out there, let him get hit a little bit, let him finish some runs, get his pads down,” Dykes said. “I think that’s always the next step, getting comfortable after an injury — going live and getting it tested live.”

I did not attend Sunday’s practice, but Dykes characterized it as emotional.

 “We had a little flair up, we got past it, and we’ll move on and learn from it,” he said. “We’ve got to learn how to handle it, but it’s a positive sign that our guys care and compete against each other.

“We need to have a scrimmage. We need to let our guys hit and mix it up a little bit.”



Football: QBs deliver opening statements

Here’s a new flash: No decision on Cal’s starting quarterback was made at Monday’s first practice of fall camp.

“These guys made a couple hundred throws apiece,” coach Sonny Dykes said afterward. “We’ll go in and evaluate all those and try to start ranking guys. I don’t know how quickly we’ll be able to do that, but that’s our goal.”

Zach Kline, Jared Goff and Austin Hinder made all those throws, each of them trying to find a rhythm at the first full team practice since spring ball ended. And each trying to show the one trait they’re convinced can earn them the job.

“It’s a long fall camp,” Hinder said. “Whoever’s going to be the most consistent quarterback is going to get the spot.”

“It’s mostly about consistency,” Goff echoed. “Completing passes is how you’re going to win the job. Not take sacks, don’t throw picks, complete passes.”

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Football: Bears please Dykes on Day 1 of fall camp

Coach Sonny Dykes saw imperfections, but mostly plenty to be encouraged about during the Bears’ first practice of fall camp.

“It was good. A little rough around the edges, but that’s what you’d expect,” Dykes said after the two-hour session. “We (played) about a thousand guys, so it wasn’t bad for the first time out. I was pleasantly surprised in some ways.

**** Here’s a photo slideshow from Monday’s practice ****

“I was just talking to (offensive coordinator) Tony Franklin about this — I thought we were technique-wise ahead of schedule. I saw a lot of good things. We’ve played around over the summer with a little bit of stuff we’re doing and you could tell there was a little bit of a learning curve.

“But I thought it was good. Our attitude was really good, the hustle was good, the effort was good. I thought the guys were hungry. I thought defensively, getting some of those guys back that weren’t there in the spring, gave us a little bit more depth. At least it looked like it today. I saw some positive things.”

This was not only the Bears’ first fall practice, but the first Dykes has conducted at Cal with a season just around the corner. He looked like a man who was enjoying himself.

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Football: Dykes’ first fall camp opens

A sunny day at Memorial Stadium and Cal’s players are on the field, stretching and warming up as the first fall camp practice gets under way.

Notes and observations . . .

— OT Freddie Tagaloa not practicing. He’s on the field, but not wearing a helmet. Not sure why. Update: Now Tagaloa is going through drills — just sans a helmet.  Post-practice: Sonny Dykes said Tagaloa is recovering from an ear infection, so they didn’t want to put him in a helmet Monday. Should go full on Tuesday.

— Freshman QB Jared Goff, who wore No. 9 in the spring, is in uniform No. 16.

— We’re 40 minutes into first open practice and there can’t be more than 75 fans in the stands. A bit of a surprise on such a nice day.

— Lined up as apparent first O-line, from l-r, Freddie Tagaloa, Jordan Rigsbee, Chris Adcock, Alejandro Crosthwaite and Brian Farley.

— On the sidelines: Adarius Pickett, 4-star cornerback prospect from El Cerrito HS. Pickett is rated as the No. 24 CB recruit in the nation, according to Scout.com.

PRE-PRACTICE: Coach Sonny Dykes’ first fall training camp will open at 5 p.m. Monday and I will on hand to provide updates here on BearTalk and on Twitter at CalBearsBang.

Remember, practices are open to all.

Dykes met with his team Sunday evening and showed players film of The Play, one of the most famous moments in Cal — and college football — history.

 “I thought that was a great way to start off camp,” Dykes said on CalBears.com. “I want to make sure our players are aware of it, certainly most of them are. We wanted our young guys to understand part of our history and appreciate and understand the traditions that Cal has.

“The two points of emphasis of showing that were how important it was for our players to never give up and to do a good job of executing. I want them to develop that attitude where they’re never going to give up, and develop the mental toughness that goes along with that. The second [point of emphasis] was the execution on that play, how well it was executed and practiced. They were able to pull it off because guys did their job even in the direst of circumstances.”

For more on Sunday’s final preparations for the start of camp, click here.


Football: Training camp report — Aug. 18

Cal had its second-to-last double-day of training camp today, but neither session was in full pads because of yesterday’s scrimmage.

Media access is only after the first practice of the day on double-days. I wasn’t able to attend today, but here is what Jeff Tedford had to say:

  • On anything that stood out after watching the tape of the scrimmage: “Some of the young defensive linemen are doing really well.”
  • On the top four middle linebackers: Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt are the starters, followed by Robert Mullins and Steven Fanua (that doesn’t count Nick Forbes, who is still working himself back into shape after offseason ankle surgery).
  • On running backs Dasarte Yarnway and Brendan Bigelow’s performance in the scrimmage: “They did OK. Bigelow is still learning. He has a lot to learn but he is looking better physically. He’s getting more comfortable. Dasarte did some good things. He’s still limited because of his knee. But he did some good things and some things he needs to improve with as well. That’s still in the evaluation process, on who the third and fourth backs are going to be.”
  • On running back C.J. Andreson’s performance in the scrimmage, and whether he’s getting into shape: “He did a nice job. He made a couple real nice runs. …He’s getting into shape.”

And that was about it.

Tomorrow, the Bears are back at Evans Diamond, once again getting the feel for playing on a field with infield dirt. They will go only in shells, with their next full-pad practice being on the back end of Saturday’s final double-day of camp.