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Sonny Dykes Takes Questions on ESPN LiveChat

What's the latest on Bigelow, the QB situation, and when does he expect to contend for a Rose Bowl?


It's official - the pre-season media blitz is upon us, and yesterday, Coach Dykes made a variety of guest appearances on ESPN and other press outlets. Somehow, he found time to take fan questions on an ESPN livechat, too. [And he still has the official Pac-12 media day on Friday!]

Below is a partial transcript of his answers, and some thoughts on what he shared. It's hard not to read any of this and begin getting optimistic for the 2013 season, though...

Full transcript found here.

Some fans are already looking ahead to September 14th...but Sonny isn't.

bob (CA)

You going to soundly defeat Ohio State?

Sonny Dykes

(11:41 AM)

We have a couple of tough ones before we play those guys! I know our players are excited about playing a marquee opponent like that, but we're getting ready for Northwestern in the first game.

Well, the bad news, Bears, is according to this, it could be another three weeks before the Klindergoff is beheaded. At least there's a rough time table in place. [Whether or not he knows it, Sonny just caused another round of freakouts at Cal forums everywhere.]

Davidson (Bear Territory)

When will you like to have a starting QB in place?

Sonny Dykes
(11:42 AM)

Well, certainly we'd like to by practice 10 or 12. Maybe faster than that. As we enter the third week, we need to have a starter in order, if we can.

And now for some good news! No more draws on 3rd and long! No more 4th and goal field goals!

Tim B. (Los Angeles)

Hi Coach. Cal fans were mostly disappointed with Jeff Tedford's ultra-conservative play calling last season; what can we expect from the "Bear Raid" this year?

Sonny Dykes
(11:43 AM)

I think our philosophy lends itself to being aggressive. We go for it on fourth down probably more than most teams. We're pretty aggressive on playcalling. The thing that we have to make sure is being able to make first downs. If you play with a fast tempo and you make those first downs, then the defense is at a big disadvantage.

He's right. It might not be this season, but in another or two...

Jordan Brenner (Los Angeles )

Coach Dykes, how long do you think it will take for Cal to be in the mix for a Rose Bowl?

Sonny Dykes
(11:44 AM)

Shoot, I want them to be in the mix from Day 1. I think that I don't know that this is a complete rebuilding job. That's not our philosophy. Our philosophy is to win now. I think that we have enough pieces in place. We're still trying to navigate where people go. There are enough pieces here for us to be successful. Stay healthy, be confident.

If a crowd of 40 naked bike riders is the weirdest thing he's seen so far in the Bay Area, I'd say that Coach Dykes has been doing just fine.

calflip (Orange County)

Coach, What is the strangest thing you have seen in Berkeley so far?

Sonny Dykes
(11:45 AM)

It was in San Francisco. I took my wife and daughters to the pier and we saw a group of about 40 people on bicycles and most of them were wearing nothing. That was kind of strange. But everything in Berkeley has been pretty tame so far.

Shout out to my boy Isaac for getting his question answered! The answer, though, is winning. Winning, and scoring points will solve everything. [If you haven't bought your tickets yet by now, shame on you.]

Isaac (Berkeley)

What can you say to the student body at Cal to get them excited for the season, and get them packing Memorial Stadium on a weekly basis?

Sonny Dykes
(11:46 AM)

Our guys will play hard. Our kids will play hard. They'll play for the student body, for the alums. We're not going to be afraid of anybody. We're going to go out every Saturday and lay it on the line. See what happens. You'll see a team that plays tough, hard. Hopefully we'll see some good results.

There are probably no less than seven impact pass-catchers (Treggs, Harper, Rodgers, Bouza, Powe, Lawler, Wark) waiting in this offense, and that's before we get to the freshmen who might play.

Logan (Southern California)

Coach, lots of talk about who may play QB for the Golden Bears...but you have some real talent at the WR position too! Who has really impressed you so far? And will a TE be involved much?

Sonny Dykes
(11:49 AM)

I think it will probably be the strength of our team. A big group of guys that can contribute. Big guys, various skill sets, various bodies. I feel likt it will be a strength of ours, the WRs and TEs. The H-backs. All of those guys that give us different options.

Good non-answer, coach! Carefully avoided a possible NCAA violation there.

John R. (Washington D.C.)

Coach, with Northern California being such a large recruiting hot bed for football recruits, what are your selling points for local Bay Area talent? How do we lock down the Bay and sign stellar recruits like Mixon or Pickett?

Sonny Dykes
(11:49 AM)

That's where recruiting starts for us, in our own backyard. The Bay Area has more talent than people think. A lot of our success will depend on keeping that talent at Cal. It's a focus point.

In other words, Sonny worries about the same things we all worry about.

Larry (Bay Area) [via mobile]

What has been your biggest concern so far during training?

Sonny Dykes
(11:51 AM)

The thing that you always have to manage is undertanding the work load that has to take place, but also keeping your players healthy. We have some depth issues, OL, DL, DB. The biggest concern is getting the competitive reps that we need, but at the same time, keeping our guys healthy. That's the juggling act every year.

Most outlets have Cal around 3-9 and finishing 5th or 6th in the Pac-12 North, for what it's worth.

alpha1906 (Inglewood, CA)

Coach, do you look at the pre-season predictions about Cal and think people are grossly underestimating the talent on the team?

Sonny Dykes
(11:52 AM)

I don't know any coach in the country that doesn't think they're underestimated. I pay attention a little bit to it and am aware of peoples' expectations of our program. I like our team a little better than the national media. But there is a lot that needs to play out. A lot of things that will play out between now and Aug. 31. The thing we have to do is focus on improving every day.

That's right, guys. He said focus. Bigelow will be a FOCUS of the offense.

Nick (Seattle)

Coach Dykes, Go Bears! Do you think that you guys will be confident enough of Bigelow's knowledge of the playbook to give him a few more carries against tOSU this year?

Sonny Dykes
(11:53 AM)

Yes. I would anticipate Bigelow knowing everything he needs to know to be one of the focuses of our offense.

Given what they tweet - Likens, Ingram, Yenser and Harrington specifically - it's hard not to love his assistants, either.

Sam (Birmingham, AL)

How fun has it been to bring almost your entire staff from LA Tech to Cal?

Sonny Dykes
(11:55 AM)

It's been good. It's certainly makes the transition easier, when you have people that you like and trust. Share the same philosophy with. I think it puts us with ahead of the game. Different players abilities to pick things up in the spring puts us ahead as well. We feel like we're in a good place right now.

In a way, nobody really knows how good Cal could be this season. A lot of variables and unknowns that will work themselves out - or won't - before long.

Charles (Burlingame)

How successful do you expect to be year 1? Would you determine success this year on # of wins or how well the foundation is set for 2014 on

Sonny Dykes
(11:56 AM)

I think as a coach, your goal is always to get your team to play to its potential. I don't know enough about our players yet to what that potential equates to. A lot of that depends on who we play. What we want to do is play hard every Saturday, get better. Build a good culture. If we can do those things, then I think that will allow us to be more successful than a lot of people think.

And finally...

Sonny Dykes
(11:56 AM)

Thanks for being interested in Cal football. Look forward to seeing you Aug. 31. Go Bears!