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Football: Spring practice begins on chilly day

Felt more like winter than spring this afternoon at Memorial Stadium, but a new era began when the Bears under Sonny Dykes held their first offseason workout.

About 150 fans were on hand, a departure as Dykes plans to keep all practices open.

There was good energy on the field during a spirited two-plus hour workout. Allan Bridgford, Zach Kline and Austin Hinder got the meaningful reps at quarterback during 11 on 11 drills.

The only injury — junior WR Chad Smith hurt his knee — did not appear to be serious, Dykes said.

The Bears return to the practice field Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Click here for my story.

Posted on Monday, February 25th, 2013
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Football: Talking offense with Tony Franklin

New Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was the man behind the curtain last fall when Sonny Dykes’ Louisiana Tech team led the nation in scoring and total yards.

His spread option system worked at Kentucky, Troy and Middle Tennessee State before La Tech, although Franklin jokes it worked well enough in his one season at Auburn to get the entire staff fired.

Before becoming a college football coach, Franklin, 55, spent 16 years teaching high school history and political science. Beginning Monday, spring football will be all about teaching Cal’s players an entirely new way to practice and play football.

Tony Franklin

 Here’s my conversation with Franklin:

What is your first priority for spring practice?
“Job One is to build a belief system and teach them how to practice. The offense will be installed in three days. They’ll have everything, basically. Then it’s just a matter of the details. That’s the hard thing for a lot of guys. Coaches are different. Some guys are scheme coaches — everything’s about me having the chalkboard and drawing a better play.

“Our deal is going to run a few plays and try to get really good at doing those little things right. We’ve got to get these guys to understand the importance of every rep, that the drills that we do, there’s a reason we do things, and there’s a reason we’re a stickler for doing it right. If we do it right, you’ll play. If you don’t you won’t. There’s not much gray area in what we do.”

How much of what you do is based on changing formations?
“We’re not a huge formation team, either. When I was at Middle Tennessee, we had a really productive offense. We were one back (and four wideouts) all the time. I say that because our quarterback was a special runner. We had a need to be very simple. It made us faster. Last year at LaTech we used more formation stuff. Last two years got more into the power formations. Mainly I did it to have something for the defense they hadn’t seen.

“The other reason is I try to get people on the field if they’re good players — it builds camaraderie. Our offensive line at LaTech was real good — we had about seven good O-linemen. Most line coaches don’t like playing more than five. What I would do is create formations to get those guys on the field. We played a senior who had played maybe five snaps his entire career. We put him at one of the running back slots with a 99 number and had him go hit people in the mouth. That was a formation where he got to play 15 to 20 snaps a game.

“And we had other formations we had a tackle who was almost as good as the starters, so we created a formation to get him on the field.”

How quickly does this offense begin to come together?
“Sometimes it’s ugly early while you’re trying to figure it out. It’s not unusual for it to be halfway through the season and all of a sudden it’s, `OK, we’ve got it now.’ And it starts to click.”

Talk about how you create your fast tempo through practice:
“Everything we do in practice is fast. There’s a lot of people who try to play fast on Saturdays and they can’t because they don’t practice fast. Our whole deal is we’re going to practice extremely fast and get a lot of reps. We’re going to coach on film and we’re going to coach a whole lot of how we’re going to play on Saturday. So if you’re at practice you’re going to see a lot of team drill stuff where there’s no coaches on the field. The first few days there might be, but there won’t be after that.”

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Posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2013
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Football: Talking defense with Andy Buh

With spring practice set to get under way Monday, here’s a Q&A I did recently with new defensive coordinator Andy Buh, who came to Cal from Wisconsin, where he coached linebackers last season for a Badgers team that played in its third straight Rose Bowl.

Buh is recovering from from shoulder surgery he underwent the week before signing day to repair a torn left rotator cuff he suffered in a fall while jogging on an icy day in Madison.

Buh and his wife also are awaiting the birth of their second son, due in the next couple weeks.


Andy Buh

Here’s our conversation:

Why change to the 4-3 in an era when most teams are using the 3-4?
“First of all, it’s what I know — that’s probably the most significant reason. Anytime you coordinate a defense you want to be a master of it.”

What do you see as the strengths of the 4-3?
“It can defend all the different types of offenses we’re going to face. I believe in the way football has become where the quarterback is such a threat, both run and pass, that four defensive linemen are almost critical in terms of keeping linemen off the linebackers, having good pass-rush lanes, squeezing and constricting gaps and not making it such a space game. Those are all the principles of the 4-3. We’ll sit more on our technique and our fundamentals than our scheme.”

What are your priorities for spring ball?
“No. 1′s always going to be putting our personnel in the right positions. No. 2, once we do that, teaching the base fundamentals of our game.”

Cal has a lot of returning linebackers. How will you adapt your personnel to the 4-3?
“The first thing I did when I got here was analyzed what that transition was going to be like. We analyzed a lot of film and looked at a lot of the body types that we had. We found out that a lot of our outside linebackers could be converted to close and open-side defensive ends. The open-side body types for us are speed, edge rushers, Chris McCain-type guys. The close-end side they’re a little bit beefier. Kyle Kragen is that type, Brennan Scarlett is that body type.”

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Posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2013
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Football: Spring practice fan guide

Here’s what you need to know as we approach the start of Cal’s spring football workouts next Monday.

All practices are free and open to the public (and the media!)


– Monday, Feb. 25: 4 to 6:30 p.m.

– Wednesday, Feb. 27: 4 to 6:30 p.m.

– Friday, March 1: 6:30 to 9 p.m.

– Monday, March 4: 6:30 to 9 p.m.

– Wednesday, March 6: 4 to 6:30 p.m. (Cal-Stanford basketball at Haas, 8 p.m.)

– Friday, March 8: 6 to 9:30 p.m.

– Saturday, March 9: 1 to 3:30 p.m. (tentatively, 1st scrimmage)

– Monday, March 11: 4 to 6:30 p.m.

– Wednesday, March 13: 6 to 8:30 p.m.

– Friday, March 15: 6:30 to 9 p.m.

– Saturday, March 16: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

– Monday, March 18: 4 to 6:30 p.m.

– Wednesday, March 20: 4 to 6:30 p.m.

– Friday, March 22: 6:30 t0 9 p.m.

– Saturday, March 23: 4 to 6:30 p.m. (Spring game, televised by Pac-12 Networks)

Entering Memorial Stadium/Seating

Fans should enter the stadium at the north end through Gate 1, where they will be directed onto the concourse level and into available seating in the lower area of sections EE, F, FF and G.


Parking near Memorial Stadium is limited and available on first-come, first-served basis. Most spots are metered. A parking-specific map is available online at


Posted on Thursday, February 21st, 2013
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Football: Competition for QB begins Monday

New coach Sonny Dykes held an hour-long informal visit with reporters Wednesday to discuss the start of spring football and delivered blockbuster news about the vacant quarterback position:

“I’d love to have a starter after Monday,” he said. “That would be ideal. One of the guys is so good, you go, `Wow.’

“I don’t anticipate that happening … (but) the sooner the better.”

The Bears begin four weeks of spring practice Monday, and among the coaching staff’s laundry list of things to do is finding a quarterback.

There are five scholarship candidates:

– Sophomore Kyle Boehm, yet to take a snap in a college game
– Senior Allan Bridgford, who started three games last season
– Freshman Jared Goff, just arrived from Marin Catholic HS in Kentfield
– Junior Austin Hinder, yet to take a snap in a college game
– Redshirt freshman Zach Kline, who begins his second spring in the program

Dykes said they all begin spring ball with a clean slate.

Sonny Dykes visits with Bay Area reporters.

“We haven’t been able to make any judgments just because it’s a new system,” he said. “It really doesn’t do us a lot of good to go back and look at a lot of stuff.”

There is no set timetable, but Dykes said he hopes to narrow the choices to two or three as quickly as possible because “reps at quarterback are the most valuable commodity there is.”

So, what will Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin look for in their quarterback?

“Timing, accuracy, leadership, ability to inspire confidence from others,” Dykes said.

Learning the assignment and executing it are two different things.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
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Football: Brendan Bigelow says he will be fine

Running back Brendan Bigelow, among as many as a half-dozen potential starters who will miss Cal football spring workouts because of injury, said he will be at full strength in time for fall camp.

Bigelow had surgery late last month to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee — the same knee in which he underwent two anterior cruciate ligament surgeries while in high school.

“It’s feeling good, like I could go ahead and run a 40 right now. I really want to play,” Bigelow said.

By August? “Full capacity. Full throttle,” he said.

Click here to ready the entire story.

Posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
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Football: RBs coach Ingram confident Bigelow, Lasco will be healthy for fall camp

Headed into the start of spring practice on Feb. 25 without top returnees Brendan Bigelow and Daniel Lasco — both sidelined by following surgeries — new Cal running backs coach Pierre Ingram said two newbies will get their shot.

– Sophomore-to-be Darren Ervin will get heavy reps during workouts.

– And redshirt freshman Jeffrey Coprich has moved permanently to offense.

Ingram, 28, told me he is entirely confident that Bigelow, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, and Lasco, who had shoulder surgery, both will recover fully.

In Bigelow’s case, it’s the same knee on which he twice tore his ACL during high school.

No worries?

“Not at all. It’s the same knee, but not even close (to being as serious). Not a concern,” Ingram said. “I’m confident, the kid’s confident, spoke to his family and they’re confident. I’m completely confident the kid’s going to be there (next fall) first game, first practice.”

Asked his impression of Bigelow when he first saw him on videotape, Ingram said, “Special. I think he fits the mode of the running back we need in this offense. We look for playmakers. He’s explosive. At anytime, something can happen.

“Lasco’s the same — he’s just never had the opportunity. And those guys are hungry for success. It was running back by committee (here last season). It’s now their chance to be a part of a bigger thing.”

In the meantime, Ervin gets the chance to be the featured back during spring ball. The 5-foot-10, 197-pounder from Houston has not carried the ball in two seasons on campus after a prep career in which he played quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
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Football: Spring game set for March 23

Cal will open its first spring practice under new coach Sonny Dykes on Monday, Feb. 25, and will stage a spring game on Saturday, March 23 in Memorial Stadium.

Admission to all spring workouts will be free and all practices, including the spring game, are expected to be open to the public.


Monday, February 25	4 - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 27	4 - 6:30 p.m.
Friday, March 1	        6:30 - 9 p.m.
Monday, March 4	        6:30 - 9 p.m.
Wednesday, March 6	4 - 6:30 p.m.
Friday, March 8	        6:30 - 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 9	1 - 3:30 p.m.
Monday, March 11	4 - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 13	6 - 8:30 p.m.
Friday, March 15	6:30 - 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 16	11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Monday, March 18	4 - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 20	4 - 6:30 p.m.
Friday, March 22	6:30 - 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 	4 - 6:30 p.m. (Spring Game, Pac-12 Networks)

Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Under: Football, Spring practice | 8 Comments »
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Football: Cal releases spring two-deep chart

For those who haven’t seen it, Cal has released its post-spring two-deep chart.

You can find it here. Obviously, it is very fluid and, aside from punter Cole Leininger, does not include any of the incoming fall freshmen.

For instance, no backup wide receivers are listed because the coaching staff expects at least a couple of the five newcomers to have an impact.

Likewise, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast told me today that Aaron Tipoti, who missed all of spring, also will see action at defensive end. Pendergast also said OLB Cecil Whiteside could swap sides and challenge Dan Camporeale for the starting spot.


Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Under: Football, Spring practice | 22 Comments »
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Football: Spring game thread


FINAL SCORE: Gold 21, Blue 20. A wild fiinish to the Spring Game in front of an announced crowd of 8,812 at Edwards Stadium. Freshman QB Zach Kline delivered a 40-yard TD pass to TE Spencer Hagan with 7:35 left in a running-clock fourth quarter. He then zipped a two-point cconversion pass to Jackson Bouza, giving the Gold squad a 21-14 lead. Redshirt freshman Austin Hinder took over at QB for Blue and with 5 seconds left threw a 75-yard TD to redshirt freshman WR Stephen Anderson. But the defense double-teammed Maurice Harris on the two-point pass try and DB Tyre Ellison deflected Hinder’s pass, preserving the 21-20 Gold victory.

Coach Jeff Tedford was pleased with both teams as well as the crowd and atmosphere. He declined to participate in the post-game pie-eating contest, won by senior C Dominic Galas.

Hagan suffered a minor ankle sprain late, but otherwise the Bears emerged from the event intact.

Here are unofficial stats from Cal:


Rushing – Isi Sofele 9-34, Zach Maynard 4-15 TD, Brendan Bigelow 3-20, Daniel Lasco 6-8, Austin Hinder 1-6, Kameron Krebs 1-2, Kyle Boehm 4-(-8)

Passing – Zach Maynard 6-10-109 TD, Austin Hinder 4-5-98 TD, Kyle Boehm 2-6-32

Receiving – Maurice Harris 7-95 TD, Bryce McGovern 3-51, Stephen Anderson 2-96 TD

Tackles (Big Plays) – Nick Forbes 7 (.5 TFL, 1 PBU), Avery Sebastian 4 (1 INT), Ted Agu 3, Jason Gibson 3, Kameron Jackson 3 (1 PBU), Adrian Lee 3, Chris McCain 3 (0.5 TFL), Austin Clark 2, Mustafa Jalil 2 (0.5 TFL), Keni Kaufusi 2 (0.5 TFL, 1 PBU), Nathan Broussard 1, J.P. Hurrell 1, Gabe King 1 (1 PBU, 1 QBH), Kameron Krebs 1, Jordan Morgan 1, Josh Hill (1 PBU)

Kick Returns – Brendan Bigelow 2-32, Adrian Lee 1-30, Daniel Lasco 1-27, Kameron Jackson 1-23

FG/PAT – Benjamin Calder 0-1 FG (50), 2-2 PAT


Rushing – C.J. Anderson 14-85 TD, Dasarte Yarnway 6-7, Mitch Bartolo 3-6

Passing – Allan Bridgford 11-21-90, Zach Kline 3-5-54 TD

Receiving – Jackson Bouza 4-41, Ross Bostock 2-23, Dasarte Yarnway 2-16, Jacob Wark 2-11, Spencer Hagan 1-40 TD

Tackles (Big Plays) – Puka Lopa 7 (1.0 SK), Cecil Whiteside 7 (1.0 SK), David Wilkerson 6, Tyré Ellison 5 (1.0 TFL, 1 PBU), Deandre Coleman 5 (0.5 TFL), Viliami Moala 4 (0.5 TFL), Robert Mullins 4, Todd Barr 3, Stephen Fanua 2 (1.0 SK, 1 PBU), Alex Logan 2, Matt Mayes 2, Ross Bostock 1, Lucas King 1 (1.0 SK, -7), Isaac Lapite 1, Steven Williams 1

Kick Returns – Joel Willis 2-35, Mike Manuel 1-30

FG/PAT – James Langford 2-2 FG (47, 41), 2-2 PAT

END OF THIRD QUARTER: Told you it would be faster. Blue still leads 14-13. Blue has the ball with Boehm at QB. Bigelow just had a nice run nullified by a holding penalty.

TV UPDATE: Gary Stevenson, president of Pac-12 Enterprises, said at halftime that all Comcast, Time-Warner, Cox and Bright House cable subscribers will get the Pac-12 network on their basic cable packages, beginning in August. Nothing extra to purchase. Negotiations are ongoing with DISH and DirecTV, but Stevenson expressed optimism that a deal will be struck with both. He also said the plan is that all 12 Pac-12 spring games will be televisesd a year from now.

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Posted on Saturday, April 21st, 2012
Under: Football, Spring practice | 11 Comments »
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