Football: Bears cancel Wednesday practice

Cal announced it has canceled Wednesday’s scheduled 4:30 p.m. practice, the first day off the Bears have had since fall camp began on Aug. 5.

“We’ve had a great training camp and got a tremendous amount of work done to this point,” head coach Sonny Dykes said. “We felt like this was an excellent opportunity to give our players a day off both to give them extra time to focus on academics and get their bodies a little bit of rest.”

Cal’s final summer school session ends Friday.

The Bears will resume workouts on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.


Football: Dykes says Sebastian doing better

Cal safety Avery Sebastian, released from the hospital Tuesday morning after being injured at practice the day before, was feeling better but will continue to be evaluated, Bears coach Sonny Dykes said.

“Avery’s good. He spent the day in our facility,” Dykes said. “He’s stiff, having a little pain here and there . . . mostly just neck. We’re still trying to diagnosis it.”

Dykes did not say if Sebastian sustained a concussion.

Asked if he expects the junior starter to play this season, Dykes said, “Yes. I would be surprised if he didn’t.”

But there is no timetable for his return to practice. “The thing we want to do is make sure he’s OK. We’ll worry about that later on,” Dykes said.

Sebastian, from McDonough, Ga., was injured during the scrimmage at Memorial Stadium when he collided with running back Jeffrey Coprich. He was motionless on the field for more than 15 minutes before paramedics put him in an ambulance and he was driven to Highland Hospital in Oakland.

Coprich, who described himself as close to Sebastian, said he was shaken by the incident.

“When he went down I teared up. I was scared because I didn’t know what was going on,” Coprich said. “From seeing him not get up right away, I instantly started to pray that everything was OK. And it is.

“I saw him earlier today and he’s good.”

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Football: Golden Bears can exhale as teammate Avery Sebastian checks out of hospital

As expected, Cal junior safety Avery Sebastian was released from the hospital on Tuesday morning.

That’s good news, obviously for Sebastian but also for his Golden Bears teammates.

We don’t yet know the timetable for Sebastian’s return to practice — may not be for days or more — or the nature of the injury he suffered during Monday’s scrimmage when he collided with running back Jeffrey Coprich and collapsed motionless on the Memorial Stadium turf.

Avery was whole and healthy enough that after tests and observation overnight, he was sent home.

The news will provide an emotional lift to his teammates, who seemed appropriately unnerved by the incident on Monday afternoon. Many of them appeared emotional minutes after their teammate was taken by ambulance to Highland Hospital in Oakland, known as a top trauma center.

Many of them — reportedly as many as 20 — jumped in their cars and went to Highland to provide support.

That Sebastian is OK will allow his teammates to exhale, smile and return to practice Tuesday afternoon without questions about his health weighing on their minds.

While the Bears’ starting safety from McDonough, Ga., recovers, redshirt freshman Damariay Drew is expected to get first-team reps. He is talented but young and will benefit from the extra time.

The Bears, of course, need Sebastian back as soon as he is able. He is a big hitter and brings experience to a secondary that has limited depth.

But for now the headline is that Sebastian is out of the hospital and apparently OK. The rest of it can wait.


Football: First scrimmage a mixed bag

Click here to view staff photographer Ross Cameron’s slideshow from Monday’s scrimmage.


Cal’s first football scrimmage of fall camp was just about what first-year coach Sonny Dykes expected — a mix of encouraging moments and predictable mistakes.

“That’s kind of what this team is right now, seven practices in,” Dykes said Monday evening. “We’re kind of an explosive team offensively that executes decently from time to time but is a little bit mistake-prone. That’s why you have a scrimmage.”

The Bears squared off in full pads for the first time for about one hour before safety Avery Sebastian was injured in a collision and taken to Highland Hospital.

Prior to that, Dykes saw enough to feel encouraged.

“Overall, I’m pretty pleased,” he said. “I think we have an opportunity to be an explosive football team.”

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Football: Avery Sebastian injured in scrimmage

There was no immediate report on the condition of Cal junior safety Avery Sebastian, who was injured during a team scrimmage Monday at Memorial Stadium and taken by ambulance to Highland Hospital in Oakland.

“We don’t have any idea the severity of it,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said afterward. “As soon as we know something, we’ll put out a statement.”

The scrimmage was ended after Sebastian, a starter from McDonogh, Ga., hit running back Jeffrey Coprich on a run up the middle and immediately went down.

For more than 15 minutes it appeared Sebastian did not move. While medical staff worked on Sebastian, his teammates were huddled in the north end zone, then sent to the locker room.

Finally, Sebastian was strapped to a gurney, his head immobilized, and taken off in the ambulance. Dykes declined to comment on whether Sebastian was conscious after the collision or whether he was able to move.

A few minutes after Sebastian was taken to the hospital, players who were still milling outside the stadium appeared emotional.

“I think anytime they have to drive an ambulance on your field, guys get concerned,” Dykes said.

Will update.


Football: Freshmen draw raves from Dykes

A strong day for the newcomers Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Freshmen shined during Cal’s sixth practice of fall camp, led by defensive tackle Jacobi Hunter of Houston and running back Khalfani Muhammad of Sherman Oaks. Linebacker Johnny Ragin of Wilsonville, Ore., also had another strong day, coach Sonny Dykes said.

“Good to see those freshman get a little more comfortable,” Dykes said.

Hunter, a 6-foot-1, 300-pounder, has made a favorable impression more than once during the Bears’ first week of workouts. Same thing with Ragin.

And Dykes said the ultra-quick Muhammad, all 5-foot-8 of him, has a good shot at becoming a first-team kickoff return man.

“That’s phenomenal. I’m ecstatic,” said Muhammad, the two-time defending state high school 100-meter champ, who had a couple nice returns Saturday. “You’ve got to believe to achieve. I just want to come out here and try to get better each day.”


The offense, which drew criticism from Dykes on Friday, bounced back.

“The energy was better from the start, the focus was better,” he said. “We’ve kind of hit that point during camp where guys start to lose their legs a little bit and everybody becomes a step slower and the execution is not very good.

“We didn’t have a very good mentality yesterday. The mentality on the offense and the defense was a bit better today.”

That doesn’t mean Dykes is much closer to naming a starting quarterback.

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Football: Defense has the upper hand

“It was a good day for the defense.”

That was Cal coach Sonny Dykes’ glass-half-full reaction to Friday’s fifth practice of fall camp.

The flip side was that Dykes was not pleased with the offense.

“I thought we were a little sloppy offensively today. It wasn’t the offense’s best day,” he said. “I thought the defense had a better energy about them than they’ve had. They challenged the offense and the offense didn’t respond the way they’ve responded so far in camp.

“I wasn’t really blown away by anybody’s performance, much less the quarterbacks.”

At least Dykes could feel good about the defense. “I thought they flew around real well, competed, played a little more physical than they’ve been,” he said. “You could see they had a little bit of an edge that we didn’t have offensively.”

Dykes singled out defensive linemen Deandre Coleman and Gabe King for continued strong play. He also mentioned defensive end Dan Camporeale, freshman linebacker Johnny Ragin and cornerbacks Kam Jackson and Stefan McClure.

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Football: Ex-Cal star Tarik Glenn pays a visit

The Bears had a surprise post-practice visitor Friday with a message coach Sonny Dykes embraced.

Cal grad, former Indianapolis Colts all-pro offensive tackle and Super Bowl champion Tarik Glenn spoke to the team for about 10 minutes, reminding the players how appreciative they should be for the opportunity they enjoy.

“He’s a guy that everybody in the Cal community is proud of. He’s done things the right way, a great role model for our players,” Dykes said later. “Anytime you have an opportunity to bring someone in who’s had the success he’s had … he’s got his degree from here, has been very successful off the field, cares about the community and wants to see us do well.”

Glenn, 37, attended Bishop O’Dowd HS in Oakland, starred for the Bears and was a first-round draft pick of the Colts in 1997. He then returned to Cal to complete his degree in social welfare in 1999.

Dykes said Glenn’s message was no different than what he’s been trying to get across to his players.

“He talked about what a special place Cal is and how lucky we all were to be here and what the value of getting an education from this place means and the impact it can have on everybody’s life,” Dykes said. “Like we tell our players all the time, it’s not a four-year decision, it’s a 40-year decision. He really emphasized that.

“And he talked about the culture of our program, which is something we’re working so hard to get right. That’s really going to determine really how successful we are. How do the players interact with each other? How do they do off the field? How hard do they work on the field and in the classroom? He emphasized all those things.

“It was great to hear him. He talked about the same things at Indianapolis that made them successful. It was a good message.”


Football: Richard Rodgers drops Red Vines, picks up new position in Bears’ offense


Richard Rodgers said goodbye to Red Vines and hello to a new position.

“I told him you will not play a down if you don’t (lose weight) because you’re slow and fat and out of shape and you can’t play,” Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin said of Rodgers. “He wants to play.”

So Rodgers, who played tight end for the Bears last season, dropped 33 pounds to find a home in an offense that doesn’t typically feature his position.

His weight loss was achieved at least partly by cutting candy from his diet.

“I have a big sweet tooth. I like Red Vines a lot,” Rodgers said. “That was my problem.”

Now healthy and trim at 245 pounds, the junior is competing for time at one of the two inside slot positions in Cal’s four-receiver alignment.

“He’s a natural,” Franklin said. “He’s born to be that — the new prototype that you see in the NFL now. The hybrid guy who doesn’t need to put a hand on the ground to get on the field because he’s just natural at what he does.”

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Football: Dykes says no QB decision is near

I talked this afternoon with coach Sonny Dykes, who said Thursday’s practice, where Jared Goff and Zach Kline got the majority of the quarterback reps, should not suggest that it’s now a two-man race for the job.

He said this was business as usual, where one or two candidates get the lion’s share of the snaps on a daily rotating basis. He said Kline is likely to get most reps with the first unit on Friday, and Austin Hinder will move into that position on Saturday.

The coaching staff then will evaluate the work of all three and begin to try to narrow the field, perhaps initially to two quarterbacks.

When I asked if he could have a starter named by Sunday, Dykes said, “I’d be surprised.”

Stay tuned. I will have more tonight, following practice.

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