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Football: Kline, Hinder speak

Two of the three players competing for Cal’s starting quarterback job did post-practice interviews on Monday. Here’s what Zach Kline and Austin Hinder had to say:

Zach Kline

On what he saw on film from his Saturday scrimmage performance: “Definitely I have a lot of work to do. I’ve got to just be quicker — this offense is about tempo — keep listening to the coaches, keep going at it, keep progressing.”

On what he makes of the initial spring depth chart that shows all three quarterbacks even: “Really haven’t even thought at all about it. Just go out here and tried my hardest. Whatever happens happens. Obviously, I want to be leading the Bears out there on Saturday. We’re all trying and it’s pretty intense competition, for sure.”

On how the competition will make all three better: “Competition makes the guy better. It’s definitely making me find the extra gear. There’s no days off. It’s pretty amazing, pretty cutthroat. It’s amazing to see all of us working together, all help each other. We’re all friends.”

 
 
Austin Hinder

On his approach to competing for the job: “Every day you just got to come out and be consistent. The most consistent quarertback is going to get the starting job. It’s getting out of the habit of trying to make the big play. Take your check downs when they give it to you. That quarterback is going to get the starting job.”

On how he’s adjusting to the no-huddle, spread offense: “I’m a lot more conforable in this system. It’s all about speed and tempo instead of really trying to pick apart the defense’s scheme … trying to get the ball in your athletes hands and let them make plays.”

On whether he keeps track of all of his throws in practice: “I have a mental note of all the plays I shouldn’t have done, the plays that are going to hurt me getting the starting job. Those are the plays where I’ve got to go back:  What was I thinking here? Why did I do this? What could I have done to be more successful in this situation?”

On Allan Bridgord leaving the program: “It’s kind of sad to hear. He’s a good friend of mine. I wish the best of luck to him. He’s a great quarterback.  Maybe he’s going to find a system he likes a little bit more. Hopefully wherever he chooses he’s going to have success.”

On when he expects a starter to be named: “The fact is, even if they name a starter, there’s a long time before that first game. Anybody who gets that job, it’s not going to be gauranteed. It’s going to be a competition all the way to that first week. It’s not over.”

 

Posted on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
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Football: Joe Montana takes in Cal practice

Joe Montana attended Cal’s football practice Monday, and did so without drawing mcuch attention to himself.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Kline didn’t realize the Hall of Famer was in the stands.

“Wow, that’s pretty cool,” Kline said. “Good thing I didn’t do really bad.”

“I wish I’d have known,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “I might have got his autograph.”

Posted on Monday, March 11th, 2013
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Football: Bears release 1st spring depth chart

Click here for the full depth chart.

Coach Sonny Dykes released his first spring depth chart today. But dont get excited — not much is definitive or carved in stone.

First of all, quarterbacks Jared Goff, Austin Hinder and Zach Maynard Kline are listed in alphabetical order, with the word “or” between each of them. (Pardon my brain-freeze — too much Las Vegas hoops).

Dykes said last week that no firm decision was likely on a starting quarterback this spring, that players would compete into two-a-days in August.

He reiterated that after practice Monday.

“We’ll see how it plays out. There’s a lot of bridges that have to be crossed and a lot of things that have to happen before we name  starting quarterback and between now and the end of August,” Dykes said.

“When it becomes obvious one of them is the guy, then he’ll be the guy. Right now, they’re all doing good things, all giving us reason to believe they can be the guy.”

Dykes said all the quarterbacks have been better than he anticipated.

“They seem to pick things up faster than I thought they might,” he said. “They’re all talented,  they’re all smart. They’ve started to develop a better sense of timing — that’s the most critical
thing playing that position. The sense timing and understanding space.

“For three guys who’ve never played a down of college football and hadn’t gotten that many reps, I feel pretty good about where they are.”

Dykes said he wasn’t even aware of the order the three QBs were listed on the first depth chart, but Goff got a majority of reps on Monday because “we probably felt like he had the best scrimmage Saturday. … That’s really not going to be any indication, really.”

Asked if it’s realistic Goff — who was attending high school three months ago — could actually win the starting job, Dykes conceded, “It’s not most of the time, but he’s given us reason to think it would be.

“I’ll be honest with you, when I found out he was graduating early, I thought, `Poor kid could have gone to the prom and had fun his senior year, that sort of thing. Now I’m kind of glad he made that decision.”

*****

The running back position, with Darren Ervin listed as the starter, is without returning veterans Brendan Bigelow and Daniel Lasco — both recovering from surgery this spring — and incoming freshman Khalfani Muhammad of Sherman Oaks.

Ervin was nursing a sore hamstring Monday and didn’t play much. Instead, the Bears moved sophomore wide receiver Joel Willis into the position and “he was doing some good things at that spot. He’s kind of been an all-purpose guy for us so far.”

The current projected starting offensive line: LT Freddie Tagaloa, LG Jordan Rigsbee, C Matt Cochran, RG Alejandro Crosthwaite, RT Bill Tyndall. Dykes said he’s been pleased with the progress of Cochran.

Bryce Treggs is listed as the X wide receiver, Jackson Bouza as the Y, Kenny Lawler as the Z. Maximo Espitia is penciled in as a H back. Dykes said he likes the Bears’ depth at the position.

On defense, the front looks like this: DE Todd Barr, NG Deandre Coleman, NT Mustafa Jalil, Rush end Dan Camporeale (ahead of Kyle Kragen). “I think that defensive line is going to be a strength of ours,” Dykes said. “It’s becoming a position that has a chance to be really good, especially when we get Brennan Scarlett back, Chris McCain back.”

At linebacker: Jalen Jefferson is the SAM, Nick Forbes the MIKE and Khairi Fort the WILL.

The secondary: Stefan McClure at LC, Avery Sebastian at SS, Michael Lowe at FS and Cameron Jackson at RC.

 

Posted on Monday, March 11th, 2013
Under: Football, Spring practice | 17 Comments »
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Football: Offense starts fast, defense rallies

Here’s a more complete recap of Saturday’s scrimmage, thanks to my colleague, Phil Jensen, who attended practice in a pinch-hit role while I’m in Las Vegas covering hoops:

The offense had a fast start, but the defense rallied near the end of Cal’s first spring intra-squad scrimmage.

Quarterbacks Jared Goff, Zach Kline and Austin Hinder played in that order, and each threw touchdowns on their first drives. But coach Sonny Dykes said the order didn’t necessarily reflect the order of the team’s upcoming first depth chart.
 
“I think we just stuck them out there and let them go play. We will assess it,” Dykes said.
 
The first depth chart will probably be released Monday.
 
Goff opened with a drive where he completed six of his nine passes, including a 32-yard TD to Bryce Treggs. Goff completed 13 of his 23 passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns.
 
“We put him in this situation today to go out there first to see how he handled it, and get an evaluation on that, and thought he did fine. I don’t think it bothered him a bit,” Dykes said. “That was encouraging.”
 
It took Kline only one pass to reach the end zone. On his first drive, he connected with Joel Willis for a 97-yard touchdown. Kline’s pass traveled approximately 50 yards. Kline completed 6 of his 8 passes for 134 yards.
 
Then Hinder took over at quarterback on the third drive and completed five straight passes, including a touchdown to Maurice Harris. Hinder finished 6 for 10 for 83 yards and a touchdown.
 
Kyle Boehm was 0 for 3 with an interception in his only series.
 
Bryce McGovern had a team-high six catches for 49 yards, and Treggs had three catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns.
 
The defense also had some impressive plays later in the scrimmage. Kyle Kragen and Mustafa Jalil got pressure on the quarterback. Isaac Lapite, Kameron Jackson and Khairi Fortt all defended passes well. Avery Sebastian produced a hit that drew “oohs” from the small crowd in the stands.
 
“I thought the offense came out pretty hot, you know, got a little momentum,” Dykes said. “Then I thought the defense did a good job of getting back.” 

Posted on Sunday, March 10th, 2013
Under: Football, Spring practice | 5 Comments »
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Football: Goff throws 3 TDs in 1st scrimmage

It was just a 45-minute spring scrimmage, but freshman Jared Goff continues to shine, throwing three TD passes to highlight a performance by Cal’s quarterbacks that pleased coach Sonny Dykes.

Goff, who arrived on campus mid-year from Marin Catholic HS in Kentfield, was 13 for 2 for 168 yards. Redshirt freshman Zach Kline, formerly of San Ramon Valley HS in Danville, was 6 for 8 for 134 yards, including a 97-yard TD to Joel Willis. Sophomore Austin Hinder was 6 for 10 for 83 yards and a TD.

“We were trying to throw every possible scenario that we could throw at them today to see if it affected their thought process or the way they played or handled things,” Dykes said. “I didn’t think it affected any of them. I thought they all did a good job of just trying to go out there and execute plays and not try to do too much.”

 

Posted on Saturday, March 9th, 2013
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Football: Bears to hold 1st scrimmage Saturday

Cal will holds its first scrimmage on Saturday during the second half of practice that is scheduled to run from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

As always, practice is open to the public.

I’m in Las Vegas covering various college basketball tournaments, including the Pac-12 starting next Wednesday. We will have a reporter at today’s practice.

Here are some highlights from coach Sonny Dykes’ Friday night post-practice interview:

– Updating situation with senior QB Allan Bridgford, who left the team earlier this week to decide on his future after being told his reps were beating reduced: “I haven’t had a chance to speak to him. We’ll know some more this weekend and see what happens by Monday.”

– On the progress of the rest of his quarterbacks: “I think they are getting better. I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing daily. I think they’ve all improved. Most of them are cutting down on their interceptions. They’re doing a better job in a lot of different ways — understanding the offense, running the offense, making better decisions. They still to learn — all of them, I think — to take completions, not to force the ball down the field, to be happy to dump it down to the back, make the easy throws, complete the easy passes. That’s kind of what makes this while thing work. I’ve been pleased with all of them honestly.”

– On the progress of running back Daniel Lasco, who is being held out of contact this spring after underdoing offseason shoulder surgery: “He’s probably doing a little bit more (than expected). He’s responded well, he feels good. The more we can do with him the better, but we’ve got to keep him out of any kind of contact.”

– On cornerback Stefan McClure, returning slowly after missing all of 2012 following two major knee surgeries: “Stefan’s had a really good spring. He’s very competitive, very physical, runs good. I thnk when he gets back completely 100 percent confident, he’ll be an even better player. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

– On tight end/receiver Jacob Wark, who played right field and was 1 for 2 at the plate in Cal 8-1 baseball win over Fresno State on Friday afternoon, then came to evening football practice: “Pretty amazing. He must have played pretty good, then he came out here and had a good practice. He’s really done a good job of handling all that this spring. I’m really proud of him. I’m glad he’s playing baseball. I think it makes him more competitive, makes him a tougher kid.”

– Said Wark, who has started all 14 games for the baseball team and is batting .298: “It’s pretty tough being out in the sun all day at baseball, playing a nine-inning game and then heading to football afterwards. But I love football and I love baseball, this is what I love to do, so there really isn’t any stress in my mind about it.”

Posted on Saturday, March 9th, 2013
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Football: Stefan McClure eager for return

Maybe it’s because he can relate to Adrian Peterson’s spectacular recovery from major knee surgery that Cal sophomore cornerback Stefan McClure is able to joke about the Minnesota Vikings’ star.

“He’s just incredible,” McClure said of the running back, who barely missed breaking the NFL single-season rushing record in his return to the game last fall. “It’s just a testament to his hard work.

“You get to the NFL and you have all day to rehab. He doesn’t have class and anything like that. So those times I’m in class, he’s out there rehabbing. That’s the only difference.”

And McClure had a big laugh.

McClure hopes to make a similarly impressive comeback after missing all of the 2012 season while recovering from a pair of right knee surgeries.

He suffered the injury in Cal’s 11th game of the 2011 season, and the news was bad.

“It was a full everything — I think they call it the terrible triad: the ACL, the MCL and the meniscus. I got all of them,” McClure said after practice one day last week.

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Posted on Monday, March 4th, 2013
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Football: Sonny Dykes on Friday practice

Prefacing his remarks by suggesting it’s early and everyone still will get more opportunity, coach Sonny Dykes on Friday night gave high marks to freshman quarterback Jared Goff for his work in the team’s first day in pads.

“He did pretty well (Wednesday) night, so we wanted to kind of wanted to throw him into the fire and see how he handled it. Looking at it, overall I thought he did some good things, was pretty productive,” Dykes said.

“Kind of similar to the other day — at times looked real comfortable and other times he looked a little bit uncomfortable. That’s what you’d expect.

“I think he’s far ahead of the game right now for a young guy. I just think he’s calm and confident. He’s got some talent, so we’ll see.”

Dykes said the coaching staff will watch video over the weekend, evaluate further, then decide who will get more reps when the team practices next on Monday.

Redshirt freshman Zach Kline also got a good dose of snaps on Friday. Again, Dykes downplayed reading too much into anything at this juncture.

“It’s hard to put too much into it,” he said. “We’re just trying to go through and see who we think deserves to get some more reps. What you do is you eliminate guys as much as you decide on somebody as a starter or decide to give somebody a lot of reps. It’s a moving target right now, really.”

Dykes’ comments on other topics after Friday’s evening workout:

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Posted on Saturday, March 2nd, 2013
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Football: Dykes on Wednesday’s workout

Here’s some of what coach Sonny Dykes saw from Wednesday’s second spring practice:

– Overall impression: “I don’t know if we executed as well today as we did Day 1 — certainly not offensively. We turned the ball over a little bit more, but that’s going to happen. We added some new stuff, so guys had to think a little bit. Probably wasn’t as clean as you want it to be. But I thought our effort was good, thought our enthusiasm was good. It’s always going to be a work in progress.”

– On giving all five quarterbacks reps: “The thing you want to do is give everybody an opportunity. These guys work their tails off and you want to make sure they have enough of a chance to show what they can and can’t do. Once you do that, you’ve got to start being a little bit more careful with who you’re giving reps to. The idea is to basically eliminate somebody, two guys, three guys, until we have a starter.”

– On giving a number of injured or recovering players some non-contact time on the field: “We gave them what they could do at the beginning, then got them out of there. Our goal is to teach them as much as we can this spring, but our primary goal is to get them healthy and ready for the fall.”

– On the defense: “I like our guys defensively. I saw some guys really trigger and run to the ball today, which is good. We’ve got a lot of depth at linebacker, a lot of guys who can run around and are athletic, that are pretty physical players. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They seem to know what they’re doing, starting to become more and more active. Our defensive line coming in was a bit of a question mark and I’ve been pretty pleased what I’ve seen out of that group. They’re battling consistency like some other positions, but the talent and want-to is there. I’ve been really pleased with the defense.”

– On Nick Forbes: “He’s what you’re looking for as a middle linebacker. He’s physical and he’s a guy who wants to do well. Just a good teammate. The kind of guy you want to build a program around.”

– On D-lineman Mustafa Jalil: “He’s been active. I think he’s feeling good, moving around pretty good. He showed up a lot the last two days.”

– On the placekicker job: “We’re just going to open it up and compete and see what happens. That’ll go into two-a-days. We’ll come out of spring ball thinking, `Here’s our thoughts on kickoffs, here’s our thoughts on long field goals, here’s our thoughts on short field goals.’ In the ideal situation, somebody handles them all. We’ll kind of see how it plays out. A lot of that changes in the fall when you see whose leg wears out.”

Cal resumes practice Friday night in shoulder pads for the first time.

Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Under: Football, Spring practice | 24 Comments »
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Football: Jared Goff takes his turn

Evening at Memorial Stadium

On Day 2 of Cal’s spring football practice, freshman quarterback Jared Goff got his first chance to show what he can do. Afterward, the former Marin Catholic High star said he didn’t enroll in college early to be a spectator.

“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t trying to compete,” said Goff, who arrived on campus in January. “We’re all pretty even right now, so who knows what’s going to happen.”

Coach Sonny Dykes said Wednesday’s practice was a bit sloppier on offense than Monday, but he was pleased with Goff’s first snaps in 11-on-11 drills after three other quarterbacks shared the reps on Monday.

“There were times when he looked like a kid who ought to be going to the prom. And there other times when he looked like a Division I quarterback,” Dykes said. “He’s got a lot of talent. We’re glad to have him. He’s going to be a good player here.”

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Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
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