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Football: Bears determined to develop running game

Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin will know things have changed this season when the Golden Bears face third-and-three and he feels comfortable calling a running play.

That didn’t often happen a year ago.

“No, I was afraid to call ‘em,” Franklin said. “We couldn’t block well enough to do that so I had no confidence.”

No one understands that harsh reality better than Cal’s running backs, who have conducted a training camp campaign to make Franklin a believer. “The most important thing,” junior Daniel Lasco said, “is to get the offensive coordinator to trust us at the running back position.”

Actually, the effort to improve has been widespread: The offensive line got stronger, the stable of backs grew deeper and more versatile, and the commitment to create balance in the offense became urgent.

“It makes us capable of winning,” Franklin said.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

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CAL’S RUN GAME OVER THE YEARS

Cal’s per-game average of 122.2 rushing yards last season was the program’s lowest since 2002. Here are the Bears’ per-game, per-attempt and rushing touchdown totals for each season since then:

2013: 122.2 rushing yards per game, 3.5 yards per attempt,  10 rushing touchdowns.
2012: 183.0 ypg, 4.9 ypa, 18 TDs.
2011: 154.8 ypg, 4.2, ypa, 25 TDs.
2010: 158.8 ypg, 4.4 ypa, 19 TDs.
2009: 169.5 ypg, 4.7 ypa, 27 TDs.
2008: 186.2 ypg, 5.6 ypa, 22 TDs.
2007: 165.7 ypg, 4.9 ypa, 23 TDs.
2006: 162.4 ypg, 4.9 ypa, 21 TDs.
2005: 235.2 ypg, 5.8 ypa, 27 TDs.
2004: 256.8 ypg, 6.1 ypa, 30 TDs.
2003: 168.3 ypg, 4.3 ypa, 28 TDs.

 

 

 

 

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Basketball: Top recruiting target Rabb wins gold

Ivan Rabb — Cal’s top basketball recruiting target — is bringing home a gold medal from the FIBA U17 World Championshjips in Dubai, Arab Emirates.

Rabb. a senior at Bishop O’Dowd High scored nine points in 13 minutes on Saturday as Team USA toppled Australia 99-92 in the championship game. He shot 4 for 4 from the field.

His playing time limited because is coming off a recent injury, Rabb averaged 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in just 10 minutes per game during his six games. The 6-foot-10 forward shot 75 percent (12 for 16) from the field.

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Football: Bears scrimmage at halfway point to opener

Click here to watch Cal OC Tony Franklin accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

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Two weeks of training camp down and two to go before Cal’s Aug. 30 football opener at Northwestern, and coach Sonny Dykes was in a good mood after Saturday’s closed scrimmage.

“I feel good walking off the field,” he said. “I think we’re at a good spot.”

The Bears ran between 60 and 70 plays in front of referees, and kept mistakes to a minimum, Dykes said.

“I was encouraged by what I saw,” he said. “Just the speed of play – we moved around fast. I thought we tackled well.”

By mid-week, the Bears will begin preparation for Northwestern, which beat them 44-30 in Berkeley last year. “We’ve snuck some Northwestern stuff in without telling our players,” Dykes said.

The players get Sunday off after 15 straight days of training camp, but they can’t help but be excited about what’s around the corner. “We’re trying to beat Northwestern right now,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “We have nothing in our heads besides that.”

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Football: Coprich has successful surgery

Sophomore running back Jeffrey Coprich underwent successful surgery to repair his broken left football, coach Sonny Dykes said after Friday afternoon’s practice.

Coprich broke his foot Wednesday while making a cut during practice and had surgery a day later.

Dykes said the recovery time for Coprich remains anywhere from four to eight weeks.

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Athletics: Lt. Governor Newsom wants next Cal AD to be contractually accountable to academic improvement

California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom has turned up the heat on Cal’s search for its next athletic director.

Newsom, a member of the UC Regents, wrote a letter to University of California president Janet Napolitano reminding everyone of recent poor graduation rates by Cal athletes in football and basketball.

Newsom argued that academic improvement should be a mandate included in the contract of the university’s next AD, with the failure to do so grounds for termination.

Here is an excerpt of his letter:

“The resignation of the UC Berkeley athletic director Sandy Barbour triggered a nationwide search for her replacement; this gives the search committee the opportunity to prioritize academics. The next director must put academics first and be held accountable through direct financial and contractual obligations.

“The athletic director’s contract should stipulate aggressive benchmarks for improvement in graduation and academic progress rates or face termination, period. We cannot skirt around the edges of the problem. If our goal as a university is to educate, then we should make it a contractual priority. I propose we start with the UC Berkeley athletic director, but this is only a beginning. It is my hope that we make this the new standard for every athletic program.”

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Football: Bears to find out how much linebacker depth they really have after Nathan Broussard injury

Attrition is beginning to test the Cal football team again, at least at linebacker.

Junior Nathan Broussard, felled by an ACL tear in his left knee this week, has moved to the shelf alongside fellow linebackers Maximo Espitia (season-long suspension) and Jason Gibson (medical retirement). All three are done for the season.

“We’ve got some options,” coach Sonny Dykes said Wednesday after announcing the news about Broussard.

Maybe, but not quite as many as they once had.

A year after being ravaged roster-wide by health issues, the Bears will find out if the improved depth they believe they have at linebacker will hold up.

Broussard was running with the starting unit at middle linebacker and Espitia came out of spring ball listed as No. 1 at one of the outside spots. The coaching staff hoped Gibson might provide depth.

Now, barely two weeks before their Aug. 30 opener at Northwestern, the Bears are shuffling bodies.

Linebackers coach Garret Chachere enlisted the cliché, “Next man up,” then noted the difference from a year ago. “There is a next man to go up now. We have more depth, more guys who are ready to play,” he said.

The Bears are hoping sophomore Hardy Nickerson is one of those players. Nickerson played all last season with a left foot injury then underwent surgery Nov. 15 for a separate fracture to his mid-foot. He’s been folded into the action gradually these first two weeks, but said his foot is fully healed.

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Football: Tough day for Bears, who lose Nathan Broussard, Jeffrey Coprich, Quentin Tartabull to serious injury

Cal’s football team, which had avoided serious injury through the first week of fall workouts, announced the loss of three players after Wednesday’s closed practice, including a season-ending knee injury to projected starting middle linebacker Nathan Broussard.

Coach Sonny Dykes said Broussard was diagnosed with a torn ACL to his left knee after twice “tweaking” it in recent days. Broussard, a junior, suffered the same injury to the same knee during August workouts last year and missed the entire season.

Freshman safety Quentin Tartabull, expected to be a contributor this season, tore his left ACL during Wednesday morning’s practice.

Sophomore reserve running back Jeffrey Coprich is out 4 to 8 weeks after breaking his left foot while making a cut during practice Tuesday and will have surgery Thursday.

“I hate it for those kids, especially for Nate, coming off that surgery (last year),” said Dykes, who characterized all three as non-contact injuries.

Dykes said candidates to play the middle linebacker spot include freshman Devante Downs, Hardy Nickerson, Edward Tandy and Michael Barton.

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Football: Bears schedule North Carolina, TCU

Cal has scheduled home-and-home nonconference football series against North Carolina and Texas Christian, two opponents the Bears have never faced, the school announced Wednesday.

Cal will face North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Sept. 2, 2017, then host the Tar Heels on Sept. 1, 2018.

The series vs. TCU begins with a game at Berkeley on Sept. 5, 2020, before Cal treks to Fort Worth, Texas, for a rematch on Sept. 11, 2021.