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Cal Football: Dykes talks war on tempo and social media

The media-day madness continues as we've got highlights from Coach Sonny Dykes's interviews with The War Room and O'Connell & Steinmetz of 95.7 The Game. Let's hear Dykes's thoughts on the opposition to up-tempo offenses and how he handles the controversial topic of social media with our student-athletes.

Christian Petersen

First up, we've got Coach Dykes on Yahoo!'s The War Room with John Harris. Boy howdy, that's one convoluted name!

On the schedule heading into fall camp:

We have two weeks of players still in summer school, so we have some scheduling issues we have to work through that are kind of tough. We have to do a good job with our guys to balance academics and making sure we're not taking all their times. These guys have to be given the chance to study and do well

What we want to do when the players show up is have as few distractions as possible so we can focus on football.

We've all heard Dykes rave about the unique (and amazing) environment that is Cal, but Dykes brought up one unique advantage that comes with the harsh academic requirements screening only a select number of elite recruits:

At Cal, [the academic prestige] is actually a selling point. It allows us to recruit nation-wide. It allows us to recruit kids who probably wouldn't normally be interested in Cal, but want to get a great education and play big-time college football. It also narrows the number of players you can recruit, which is a good thing. You can focus more on getting to know them and getting to know everything you need about them. Recruiting is so much about relationships and you can focus a lot of time and energy on getting to know these kids and spending time with them. I think it pays off for you in the long run.

One trend arising in high school football, college football, and even the NFL is this wave of up-tempo offense. It's become quite the hot topic with some coaches calling for restrictions on tempo to protect the players.

I think everyone has a part of football they like and has been key for getting them success. When up-tempo offenses are going, then the game happens rapidly and it simplifies the game defensively and, really, what ends up happening is defenses can't dictate pace, can't dictate all the things defenses normally dictate like leaving your back in when they blitz and forcing you to make adjustments based on their personnel. Those guys start to lose control of the game a little bit and they resist it. I can certainly understand that. The game of football looks a lot different now than it did ten years ago; it's a different game played much faster. I think that's where it's headed. It's going to start to permeate to NFL a little. If you go and talk to coaches and talk to players and talk to fans across the country, everyone enjoys the plays. I don't know if anybody enjoys watching a team huddle up and stand around and look at each other.

Dykes is pretty well-known for this very up-tempo offense. Does he go out of his way to find players who fit the up-tempo mold or is there flexibility in the system?

We always want to try to tweak our system to our players. Every player is gonna have strengths and weaknesses and we want to make sure we're asking those guys to do things they can do well and not asking them to do things they can't do. We talk to much about players, not really as much about plays. "Let's figure out a way to get the ball into this guy's hands in space and let him do this." "This guy catches the ball well in traffic; let's use this ability to do that." We're constantly tweaking our offense to suit our players.

In another appearance, Dykes sat down with 95.7 The Game's O'Connell & Steinmetz. The interviews never stop!

Appropriately, they start off with the start of the schedule; three of the first four games are against Top-25 teams, but Dykes is keeping a positive outlook on it.

It's a tough way to start, but we'll get exposed early and find out the weaknesses in our program and figure out the things we gotta get fixed quickly.

Once they've got all the wrinkles ironed out of the Bear Raid, what exactly can we expect? How does it compare to his offense at La Tech?

It'll certainly look similar. We're gonna have a lot more variety in what we can do here because we've got more variety in terms of body types. We have more tight end/fullback–type guys and that allows us to be a little bit more diversified in what we do offensively. We have to identify who are our playmakers and do a good job of focusing on getting those guys the football and putting them in good situations where they can play to their strengths.

And the players certainly seem excited to be part of the Bear Raid, if their tweets are any indication. But social media can be unexpectedly dangerous, especially in the hands of 20-year-olds (Hey, I'm still in that group! I'm not that old!).

Our job is to be teachers--to be mentors to these players. Twitter and social media are not things that are going away, so I think it's in our best interest not to deny access to our players, but rather to teach them and to explain to them there are consequences that go along with this, just like anything else in life. You have to be responsible in the way you deal with it. It can be a great asset, but it can also be a huge detriment. Our players can learn how to handle it. We do a lot of talking to them about the ways in which to communicate with their fans in the public and that's a process through fall camp to make sure they understand "this is acceptable, this is what we want, and this is outside the boundaries of what's right to do. We're believers in education and that's what we are--we're educators as coaches. That stuff's not going away, so let's teach instead of ban.

We've heard about the quarterback competition ad nauseum, but what are the other interesting battles to look forward to in fall camp?

There's gonna be some interesting battles in the linebacker position. I think that's gonna be a strength of our defense, just our different body types, our speed and athleticism at linebacker. I think that's gonna be fun to watch. I think the emergence of some guys at defensive end who are making the transition from outside linebacker is gonna be fun to watch. How the secondary comes together; we have some depth question marks, so we gotta have some young players develop and fill in those spots. But the one that's gonna be pretty interesting to me is the wide receiver battle. There are 12 guys we feel are pretty good players who can do different things, so I'm anxious to see how we can find a role for all of them in the offense and utilize the different body types and different skill sets those guys bring to the table. We have some talent, we just have to get them in the right spots.

Well Bears fans, what did you think about Coach Dykes's comments? With all the media-day frenzy, there are only twenty-seven more interviews to discuss!