5

Football: PK James Langford has some famous ancestors

There are some strong bloodlines running through the Cal football roster. Quartererback Jared Goff’s father played major league baseball. Linebacker Hardy Nickerson Jr.’s father starred in the NFL.

Placekicker James Langford has bragging right over all of them.

When he lines up for his first field-goal try next Saturday at Northwestern, Langford will have the genealogical backing of Ty Cobb and Harry S. Truman.

Langford, a senior from Pleasanton, figures those genetic connections can’t hurt. “Obviously, they performed under pressure situations as well,” he said.

A third-year transfer from Cal Poly, Langford admitted after Saturday’s final practice of fall camp that he wasn’t sure about his exact relation to the owner of baseball’s highest career batting average or the nation’s 33rd president.

His father Jim confirmed that both Cobb and Truman are direct relations on his side of the family. Cobb is a cousin to James Langford’s great-grandfather on his grandmother’s side, and Truman is cousin to James’ great-grandmother on his grandfather’s side.

Don’t worry, James was confused, too.

“It’s a cool thing being related to all these great people,” he said. “Now that we’re talking about this, I feel like I should know more about it.”

Continue Reading

0

Football: Six named team captains

Six players, including quarterback Jared Goff, were named team captains Saturday after a vote of their teammates,

Fullback Lucus Gingold, running back Daniel Lasco, safeties Michael Lowe and Stefan McClure and defensive end Brennan Scarlett also are Cal team captains, coach Sonny Dykes announced.

“We have developed a tremendous amount of leadership on this team and these six guys are right at the top of that group,” Dykes said. “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized as a leader by your peers, and we’re all looking forward to the leadership this group will provide this season.”

0

Football: Michael Lowe shows coaches he’s serious

Safety Michael Lowe met new Cal defensive backs coach Greg Burns for the first time back in January after spending a month at home in Maryland during the holiday break.

“I made a bad first impression,” Lowe said. “He said he didn’t think I was taking it seriously.”

That’s because Lowe returned to school 20 pounds over his playing weight. “Mom cooks very well,” he explained.

Burns, hired by new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, said Lowe had been described to him as a player with “potential.” He admits he wasn’t sure what to think about him.

“He was a little out of shape initially,” Burns said. “We told him the things he needed to do. By the end of the summer he had accomplished everything that we asked.”

That includes absorbing the new defensive playbook, demonstrating the leadership the coaches sought from the senior, and shedding 20 pounds.

At 5-foot-11, 203 pounds, Lowe has been good enough that no one has wrestled away his position during a competitive fall camp. So Lowe will be in the starting lineup Aug. 30 at Northwestern?

“That would be safe to say,” Burns said this week. “Haven’t made that official decision yet, but right now Lowe has clearly said it loud and clear that he’s ready for it.”

Continue Reading

3

Football: Sonny Dykes pleased as Bears scrimmage for final time before season-opener at Northwestern

Cal did its final live tackling of fall camp during a 40-play scrimmage Wednesday, after which coach Sonny Dykes raved about the progress his team has made.

Acknowledging the loss of linebacker Nathan Broussard and safety Quintin Tartabull for the season, both to knee injuries, Dykes said the Bears have emerged from 2 ½ weeks of tough practices “remarkably healthy.”

Compared to a year ago, when the team’s season-long injury epidemic developed its momentum in August, this has been a major turnabout.

“For us to go as much live tackling as we’ve done in this camp — which is more in than any camp I’ve ever coached in — and to have as few injuries as we’ve had is a real testament to their work effort,” Dykes said. “Hopefully, it’s a sign we’re becoming a tougher team.

“Last year this looked like a M*A*S*H unit out here and we didn’t go live near as much as we have this year. I think we’re tougher, I think we’re bigger, I think we’re stronger, I think we’re more physical, I think we’ve got a better mindset.

“All of that has allowed us to get a lot of reps in practice. We have gotten a remarkable amount of work done to this point.”

Continue Reading

1

Football: Mustafa Jalil `for sure’ will start vs. Northwestern

A few notes from Monday’s post-practice session with coach Sonny Dykes:

Defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil, although he’s practiced on a somewhat limited basis, will “for sure” be in the starting lineup against Northwestern, Dykes said.

After missing all last season with a knee injury, Jalil has been held out of some drills just to be cautious, Dykes said. “He hasn’t been sore. He’s responded pretty much to everything we’ve asked him to do, and looked pretty good doing it,” Dykes said.

During 11-on-11 live play Monday, the 6-foot-3, 295-pound junior was being double- or triple-teamed by Cal’s first-team offensive line.

Dykes said sixth-year senior Austin Clark is potentially the starter at the other DT spot, although the Bears intend to rotate as many as six players into those two positions.

*****

Junior Cedric Dozier has the inside track for the starting cornerback spot opposite Cam Walker. Darius Allensworth had a strong week of practice last week and was on the field again Monday when the Bears were using a nickel package. Dykes said the coaching staff continues to ease JC transfer Darius White back from a jammed shoulder on Aug. 4, cautious not to create a problem that lingers.

*****

Dykes squashed the suggestion that sophomore RB Khalfani Muhamad may become purely a situational runner to take advantage of his speed and offset his size.

Continue Reading

4

Football: Bears determined to develop running game

Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin will know things have changed this season when the Golden Bears face third-and-three and he feels comfortable calling a running play.

That didn’t often happen a year ago.

“No, I was afraid to call ‘em,” Franklin said. “We couldn’t block well enough to do that so I had no confidence.”

No one understands that harsh reality better than Cal’s running backs, who have conducted a training camp campaign to make Franklin a believer. “The most important thing,” junior Daniel Lasco said, “is to get the offensive coordinator to trust us at the running back position.”

Actually, the effort to improve has been widespread: The offensive line got stronger, the stable of backs grew deeper and more versatile, and the commitment to create balance in the offense became urgent.

“It makes us capable of winning,” Franklin said.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

*****

CAL’S RUN GAME OVER THE YEARS

Cal’s per-game average of 122.2 rushing yards last season was the program’s lowest since 2002. Here are the Bears’ per-game, per-attempt and rushing touchdown totals for each season since then:

2013: 122.2 rushing yards per game, 3.5 yards per attempt,  10 rushing touchdowns.
2012: 183.0 ypg, 4.9 ypa, 18 TDs.
2011: 154.8 ypg, 4.2, ypa, 25 TDs.
2010: 158.8 ypg, 4.4 ypa, 19 TDs.
2009: 169.5 ypg, 4.7 ypa, 27 TDs.
2008: 186.2 ypg, 5.6 ypa, 22 TDs.
2007: 165.7 ypg, 4.9 ypa, 23 TDs.
2006: 162.4 ypg, 4.9 ypa, 21 TDs.
2005: 235.2 ypg, 5.8 ypa, 27 TDs.
2004: 256.8 ypg, 6.1 ypa, 30 TDs.
2003: 168.3 ypg, 4.3 ypa, 28 TDs.

 

 

 

 

28

Football: Bears scrimmage at halfway point to opener

Click here to watch Cal OC Tony Franklin accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

*****

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.”

Continue Reading

3

Football: Coprich has successful surgery

Sophomore running back Jeffrey Coprich underwent successful surgery to repair his broken left football, coach Sonny Dykes said after Friday afternoon’s practice.

Coprich broke his foot Wednesday while making a cut during practice and had surgery a day later.

Dykes said the recovery time for Coprich remains anywhere from four to eight weeks.

3

Football: Bears to find out how much linebacker depth they really have after Nathan Broussard injury

Attrition is beginning to test the Cal football team again, at least at linebacker.

Junior Nathan Broussard, felled by an ACL tear in his left knee this week, has moved to the shelf alongside fellow linebackers Maximo Espitia (season-long suspension) and Jason Gibson (medical retirement). All three are done for the season.

“We’ve got some options,” coach Sonny Dykes said Wednesday after announcing the news about Broussard.

Maybe, but not quite as many as they once had.

A year after being ravaged roster-wide by health issues, the Bears will find out if the improved depth they believe they have at linebacker will hold up.

Broussard was running with the starting unit at middle linebacker and Espitia came out of spring ball listed as No. 1 at one of the outside spots. The coaching staff hoped Gibson might provide depth.

Now, barely two weeks before their Aug. 30 opener at Northwestern, the Bears are shuffling bodies.

Linebackers coach Garret Chachere enlisted the cliché, “Next man up,” then noted the difference from a year ago. “There is a next man to go up now. We have more depth, more guys who are ready to play,” he said.

The Bears are hoping sophomore Hardy Nickerson is one of those players. Nickerson played all last season with a left foot injury then underwent surgery Nov. 15 for a separate fracture to his mid-foot. He’s been folded into the action gradually these first two weeks, but said his foot is fully healed.

Continue Reading

6

Football: Tough day for Bears, who lose Nathan Broussard, Jeffrey Coprich, Quentin Tartabull to serious injury

Cal’s football team, which had avoided serious injury through the first week of fall workouts, announced the loss of three players after Wednesday’s closed practice, including a season-ending knee injury to projected starting middle linebacker Nathan Broussard.

Coach Sonny Dykes said Broussard was diagnosed with a torn ACL to his left knee after twice “tweaking” it in recent days. Broussard, a junior, suffered the same injury to the same knee during August workouts last year and missed the entire season.

Freshman safety Quentin Tartabull, expected to be a contributor this season, tore his left ACL during Wednesday morning’s practice.

Sophomore reserve running back Jeffrey Coprich is out 4 to 8 weeks after breaking his left foot while making a cut during practice Tuesday and will have surgery Thursday.

“I hate it for those kids, especially for Nate, coming off that surgery (last year),” said Dykes, who characterized all three as non-contact injuries.

Dykes said candidates to play the middle linebacker spot include freshman Devante Downs, Hardy Nickerson, Edward Tandy and Michael Barton.