If you've been following Sonny Dykes, Zach Yenser and Pierre Ingram on Twitter, then you probably already know that an increased presence on social media is a point of emphasis for the coaching staff, as they attempt to reshape the image and brand of Cal football.
In order to sell a brand, though, it needs to be noticed - and you can think of all the little tweets and Instagram photos the coaches post as a way of doing that. Earlier this week was their latest effort - Coach Dykes took questions on Twitter, and posted his answers on YouTube a few days later.
It's 14 minutes long, but I've broken it down by topic, and summarized what he has to say. Some additional thoughts - separate from what Sonny answers - are bracketed.
-On the atmosphere at Memorial Stadium: Sonny thinks that if you put a winning product out on the field, the rest will, in essence, take care of itself. His goal is to put the best team possible out there, which will hopefully generate a lot of excitement on both sides of the ball.
-Another atmosphere based question, this one specifically wondering about whether or not there will be piped in music for defense and special teams. He's not quite sure about that yet. Personally, I don't think this one makes a difference too much, although having the band play more often would be nice in general.
-Among the things he preaches is playing hard for six seconds every play, but don't expect any "who's got it better than us" Harbaugh type things.
-Next question about the quarterbacks - from me! - was met the way everyone expected. The staff hasn't settled on a starter yet, and the goal is to have only two candidates by fall camp. I didn't really think he'd give me a straight answer, but you can't blame a dude for trying. [Coach Dykes also didn't pronounce my name correctly. That's okay. Most people don't, the first time.]
-On the new strength and conditioning coach - Dykes said the biggest difference is the atmosphere in the weight room, which is more educative and energetic. Read into that how you will. Many fans - and if you believe the rumors, some players - grew unhappy with Blasquez in recent months, and Damon Harrington seems to have kicked things up a notch. So far, the players have all talked about how tough the new program is, so there's that.
- "How shocked do you think the critics will be when Cal wins 9 or 10 games this year?" Well, he ducked this one, kind of - and perhaps rightfully so. We're good enough to be competitive in all our games - which is what he said - but outright expectations like those would be premature.
-Quarterback question again from me. Sorry, didn't think he was going to answer them in this format, and I was mostly posting to be humorous. My bad!
-On whether or not Takkarist McKinley might be used on offense - we'll see. Sonny believes in limiting what you ask a young player to do. [There's really no reason to move him in the first place, or even try him at any other spots. Takk is a gifted athlete, but we've seen nothing that suggests he could should play offense. Any big guy who runs fast isn't necessarily a running back in the making.]
-"How does it feel to steal this idea from UCLA?" Handled well and on the fly by Coach Dykes, who didn't know that Jim Mora had conducted his own Twitter Q&A earlier this off-season. But, if we're keeping track...
-Someone wanted to know how the team can keep its fans engaged from now heading into the season. Again, Sonny emphasized that a good team would mostly take care of that. The answers regarding this area so far seem to signal that Sonny believes in generating excitement, but wants to be hands off on actual initiatives and changes. [Or maybe we might have more specifics as we get closer to the season. Either way, I don't think we'll see him going all Kliff Kingsbury and handling every single minor thing.]
-"What lessons have you learned at LA Tech that can be implemented here?" - Sonny talks about how much more responsibility a head coach has off the field, in regards to staffing, recruiting, and mentoring. He mentions handling and motivating people as one of his strengths. [If you've met him, you'd probably agree. The dude is just so darn likable.]
-Trick plays? Franklin and Dykes love them - not only on offense, but on special teams as well. We may finally get that fake punt after all! Fundamentals are important, of course, but there's a place for tricks too. [They practiced a few during spring. End arounds, reverses, QB throwbacks. Didn't see anything in terms of special teams trick plays, though.]
-"How will you handle going against another high tempo team - albeit a run heavy one - like Oregon?" I really liked his answer here - Sonny joked that fans will have to do more than the team does, and endure a 4 hour game when those two teams meet. High-tempo is a growing trend in the conference and nationwide, but where the staff feels they have an advantage is the fact that they've been doing it for a while now. In games like those, in tempo vs. tempo, it's going to come down to defense, mostly. The depth on the team doesn't support scorefests, yet.
[That last part isn't surprising. The DL has some new depth, but isn't where it needs to be yet, especially having lost Kaufusi already.]
-There was no consideration given to getting an NFL S&C coach.
-And finally, Bigelow is "doing great". Going to be brought along slowly, but will be fully released shortly. He closes the video by hinting that he might do this again, and asks for more questions next time.
Well, that's it. What'd you think about the answers? What did you want to hear him talk more about? Hit the comments and give your take.