Football: Wednesday spring practice recap

Highlights from Sonny Dykes’ post-practice interview on Wednesday:

– Dykes said he’s been pleased with the defense this spring, despite injury issues and the fact that they’ve used a fairly vanilla approach, with little blitzing.

“I think we have a chance to have a good football team. Our defense is really going to determine how good our year is. That’s the way it always is,” he said. “If you want to win a championship, you;re going to win it by being a good defense.

“Offense is nice when you score points, but if you want to be a championship program, you’re going to have to play good defense.”

– After what he called a “sluggish” practice on Monday, Dykes said the Bears were sharper. “I thought we were really good today,” he said. “I thought our tempo was good, I thought our focus was good.”

– Redshirt freshman defensive back Damariay Drew is out with what Dykes described as a stress fracture in his upper leg. “Nothing serious,” he said. “Sounds much worse than it is. It’s not a bad injury.” Dykes said Drew will be shelved for about a month.

– The coaching staff still is working out details for Saturday’s spring game. There will be a game (it’s being broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks), but Dykes said he anticipates using some kind of a modified scoring system due to injuries limiting the depth of his squad. “We’ve got basically two healthy running backs. We’re one-deep in the secondary,” he said. “We’re trying to keep our players healthy. We don’t want to have any serious things happen to us on Saturday.”

– At this point, Dykes anticipates dividing quarterback reps equally on Saturday.

– Players who could return from spring injuries to play Saturday include LB David Wilkerson and RB Darren Ervin.

– An update on OT Bill Tyndall, who was scheduled to have surgery Wednesday to repair a broken ankle: “Bill’s probably going to be four months minimum … five months before contact. I think he’ll be back by the time we go to camp in August.”

– Walk-on quarterback Brendan Keeney has left the team.

– Dykes said he plans to take his family to HP Pavilion on Thursday night for Cal’s NCAA tournament game against UNLV. “We were at the first UNLV game. Hopefully, we’ll get a better last 5 or 6 seconds than we did last time,” he said, alluding to Cal’s last-second 76-75 loss.



Football: Dykes sees Zach Kline ‘make a move’ in three-way battle for starting QB job

Nothing is settled, but for perhaps the first time on Monday coach Sonny Dykes suggested a leader in the quarterback battle.

“Looks a little bit like Zach Kline is starting to get a little bit more settled in,” Dykes said of the redshirt freshman from San Ramon Valley High. “I’ve seen him kind of make a move here over the last two practices.”

Kline, freshman Jared Goff and junior Austin Hinder have battled throughout the spring and shared reps. Cal has two more practices — Wednesday and Friday — before closing down for the off-season with its spring game Saturday at Memorial Stadium, beginning at 4 p.m.

Asked if he has any clarity on the quarterback picture, Dykes initially said, “I’m liking what I’m seeing from all of them.”

Then he singled out Kline.

“His reads are happening a little faster, seems like he’s a little more accurate on his mid-range throws than he was,” Dykes said. “I saw some of that in the scrimmage Saturday and it carried over to practice today.

“I think he’s improved and getting better and better. It’s good to see that.”

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Football: OT Bill Tyndall to have surgery

Cal senior Bill Tyndall, penciled in as the starting right offensive tackle, will undergo surgery Wednesday after breaking his left ankle Saturday during a scrimmage.

Tyndall will be out about four months, coach Sonny Dykes said.

Dykes said the Bears likely will used as many as four different players at the position through Saturday, when workouts end with the spring game. “We’re going to experiment a little bit and move some guys around and see how they respond this week,” Dykes said.

The Bears’ 12th of 15 spring workouts wasn’t their best, Dykes.

“I thought we were sluggish,” he said. “Didn’t have the same bounce we’ve been having. Look like they were a little worn out. We’re a little bit beat up.”

Nineteen players sat out practice Monday due to health issues.

“The good thing was we were able to come out and have a functional practice and get better and look good in some ways.”



Football: Boehm gets QB reps in scrimmage, but Kline’s performance stands out

This report courtesy of BANG’s Phil Jensen, pinch-hitting for me today:
Cal quarterback Kyle Boehm saw some time at receiver in Saturday’s intra-squad scrimmage, as well as a series at quarterback.
“He is a big strong kid that catches the ball, is a good athlete,” said Cal coach Sonny Dykes about the 6-foot-3, 215-pound sophomore. “When you have those kind of characteristics, you try to find a place for them to play.”
Interestingly, Dykes also mentioned that Boehm has “earned another shot at quarterback.” Boehm was not listed on the quarterback depth chart released Monday by the team. Jared Goff, Austin Hinder and Zach Kline were listed in alphabetical order with the word “or” between their names.
In Saturday’s scrimmage, Kline was very accurate at quarterback with five completions in seven attempts and a touchdown. Hinder was effective running the ball.
Dykes said he didn’t think any of the quarterbacks separated themselves as the starter Saturday.
Right tackle Bill Tyndall suffered an ankle injury at the scrimmage. Dykes said afterward he did not know the extent of the injury.

Football: Spring practice No. 9

I’m still out here Las Vegas covering hoops, but  apparently there were a few new wrinkles Wednesday at Cal spring practice.

Kyle Boehm, ostensibly the fourth-string quarterback, saw some time at receiver, at least partly in response to the club’s injury situation.

“We’re a little beat up across the board,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “Kyle got a little receiver, did some good things. He’s a good athlete. He’s a guy we thought we’d put out there and see what he can do.”

Boehm also took some shotgun snaps out of what was described as a “wildcat” running formation.

Likewise, junior Austin Hinder — dueling with freshman Jared Goff and redshirt freshman Zach Kline — for the starting quarterback spot, got a few reps at both receiver and running back.

Dykes did not indicate this suggests the QB battle is down to two players. What he said was that because Boehm and Hinder have backgrounds as running quarterbacks, the coaching staff wants to see what they have to offer in different roles.

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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.”



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.”


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.



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.” 

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.”