A year ago at this time, the Cal football coaching staff was hoping for production in the running game.
Now those coaches are salivating at the talent and numbers they have at their disposal.
“We have a lot of depth now,” coach Sonny Dykes said after Saturday’s ninth practice of spring ball.
“We’ve got some good players,” offensive coordinator Tony Franklin added. “We don’t have a selfish football player and that’s an amazing thing.”
That will be critical next fall when the Bears may be tempted the share the ball more in the running game. Senior Daniel Lasco is coming off a season in which he ran for 1,115 yards, but he will be pushed by sophomores Vic Enwere and TreWatson, along with freshman Lonny Powell, who already is enrolled and participating in spring ball.
Dykes said depth at the position means the Bears won’t have to wear out Lasco. “Him carrying the ball 40 times in the first game of the season probably doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Dykes said.
Lasco is OK with whatever comes.
“If I go out there for two plays and run 30 yards, I feel confident when I see someone else go in there and hold the rope,” Lasco said. “I feel that way with Tre, Vic and Lonny.”
Enwere, who ran for two short touchdowns and caught a TD from Jared Goff during scrimmage action Saturday, now weighs 230 pounds. “He’s just a load,” Dykes said. “He’s one of those guys when we put he pads on and tackle he looks a lot better than he does when he’s got the shorts.”
Dykes said Watson has gotten stronger and Powell has performed very well for a young player who could still be in high school.
The biggest difference from Lasco’s point of view is the change in the coaching assignments that has Franklin overseeing both the quarterbacks and running backs.
“There’s no middle man,” Lasco said. “We don’t have to hear from somebody else what to expect from the offensive coordinator. We’re hearing it straight from the main source.”
Franklin said the change is no big deal and, in fact, what he typically did in previous jobs. “I never even think I’m not coaching everybody,” he said.
The Bears have four safeties sitting out spring ball while rehabbing injuries or surgeries, and four more defensive backs scheduled to arrive on campus this summer.
As a result, it’s impossible to project what the starting group will be Sept. 5 when the Bears open against Grambling State.
But Dykes said those who are practicing this spring are making the most of their opportunities. Cornerback Darius White, who was injured in fall camp last year and struggled to recover, had his two best practices ever on Wednesday and Friday, Dykes said.
Cornerback Darius Allenworth has made strides and quarterback-turned-safety Luke Rubenzer “has surpassed everybody’s expectations,” Dykes said.
With starting offensive tackle Steven Moore sidelined this spring after having surgery on both shoulders, senior Brian Farley has emerged as a contender for a starting job. “Farley’s been as good as anybody all spring,” Dykes said.
Two new players looking for a niche are Harry Adolphus, a Cal rugby player and left-footed punter from Guilford, England, and Ashtyn Davis, a Santa Cruz native and freshman hurdler on the Bears’ track team, trying to catch on as a kick return specialist.