Sonny Dykes talked to the media with Cal football spring practice around the corner. Here are his first comments on the Bears prior to the advent of spring practice.
Breaking news: Cal is undefeated in the Sonny Dykes era! Start building the monuments now.
Dykes isn't wasting any time staying active and in front of the media. We have ourselves a pre-spring practice press conference, which I believe is akin to holding Christmas Eve before Labor Day.
Let's start where we always start: Quarterbacks. Has Sonny looked into his crystal ball and seen the future?
Yes he has. He knows he'll be starting a quarterback at quarterback.
Dykes on QB situation: "I'd love to have a starter after Monday. I don't think that's going to happen."— Jonathan Okanes (@CalBearBlog) February 20, 2013
Dykes on whether he'll name a starting quarterback by the end of spring practice: "I don't know how realistic that's going to be."— Jonathan Okanes (@CalBearBlog) February 20, 2013
It does make sense not to name a starter by the end of spring for the logic outlined below.
Dykes on chances schollie QBs transfer: "A lot depends on who the starteris. If Jared Goff is the starter, expect a lot of guys to leave."— Cal Rivals (@CalRivals) February 20, 2013
Basically, you want to keep as many quarterbacks as possible until you've seen the full roster operate the system. Right now the Bears will be missing many of their offensive weapons in spring camp, so it'll be impossible to figure out how effective each quarterback is running the system.
Cal should have all five of their scholarship quarterbacks healthy for the spring, but will have so many other issues everywhere else that it'll be impossible to accurately assess how well they fit the system.
And there are a lot of players out. Here are the list of names.
Adcock (shoulder), Bigelow (knee), Hagen (k), Harper (s), Lasco (s), McCain (s), Rodgers (s), Scarlett (hand) Sina (k) all out for Spring.— Cal Rivals (@CalRivals) February 20, 2013
Sonny on the Spring running game, which won't have Bigelow, Lasco, or Muhammad: "Don't know if we'll light the world on fire this Spring."— Cal Rivals (@CalRivals) February 20, 2013
Another area of concern is the offensive line, where no one has any idea of who is starting where this upcoming season.
Dykes on the offensive line: "There's going to be a lot of moving parts on the starting line. It's kind of a crapshoot right now."— Jonathan Okanes (@CalBearBlog) February 20, 2013
The offensive line will be a big concern because we could have as many as four new starters. Cal is losing three offensive linemen, has another one injured and pretty much has only Jordan Rigsbee back there from the starting five. Not that they were mashers by any means, but a lot of thought will have to go into who takes over at each position.
So how will all these moving parts and missing starters affect the running of the system? Pretty significantly.
Dykes on teaching his system this spring: "When you're teaching 90 guys something brand new, it doesn't always look like poetry in motion."— Jonathan Okanes (@CalBearBlog) February 20, 2013
With a lot of players learning a new system, acclimation will take time and might take a lot longer than the spring practice time allotted. So expect a lot of stopping and starting and mashing before things get settled. Most of the important reps will be taking place during the long break between the end of spring practice and the start of fall practice, when the players get together for conditioning and execute the fundamentals of the system on their own time.
One new thing to watch out for is how the center ends up snapping the football, and how running backs that aren't as good at pass protection will be utilized.
Dykes on center, who will call the snap count in his offense: "Center varies cadence of count so DL can't get a jump." #Cal— Cal Rivals (@CalRivals) February 20, 2013
Dykes on how center calls snap: "He can say 'ready, set, go', 'andele! andele!', we don't care as long as the other guys know." #Cal— Cal Rivals (@CalRivals) February 20, 2013
Dykes says that a back who can't block won't be asked to, and there will be ways for them to still be effective— Ryan Gorcey (@RGBearTerritory) February 20, 2013
Let's take a look at the defense.
Dykes says move to 4-3 will allow defense to better stop the run.— Jonathan Okanes (@CalBearBlog) February 20, 2013
Before last season, Cal possessed a pretty solid run defense every year. But decimating front seven injuries pretty much sidelined everyone and the Bears saw that facet of defense crater during the final stretch of 2012. Cal did have pretty solid run defenses with the 4-3 in the early parts of Tedford's time at Cal (although the pass defense would struggle a bit more if there wasn't enough rush generated up front).
What is probably most intriguing to fans is how Dykes is trying to get Cal football players to embrace as much of the Berkeley experience as they can. The first real example came last Thursday when the football team showed up at Cal's rout of UCLA.
Dykes on the team attending basketball game:"I'm a big believer that the student-athlete should be part of the regular student body."— Jonathan Okanes (@CalBearBlog) February 20, 2013
This model is probably best seen down at the Farm, where you'll see the student-athletes do their best to support one another at every event they can possibly attend. It's nice to see the athlete Bears trying to be a bit more communal with each other and show active support.
Speaking of which, Dykes does seem to think the Bears need to strive to beat Stanfurd first and foremost.
Dykes: "We have to measure ourselves against Stanford. They are the returning champs and right down the road."— Jonathan Okanes (@CalBearBlog) February 20, 2013
What are your thoughts on Sonny's press conference?