Because I have yet to watch last night's Summerslam and because the team is now starting to get ready for the season, this practice report will be somewhat abbreviated both in detail and in length. I'm sure you understand the reason for that concern.
Let's get into it.
- Based on the two deep that has practiced the last couple of days, the list of freshmen who will be playing - originally ten deep, according to Coach Dykes' comments last week -- is basically down to just four for now: Devante Downs, Vic Enwere, Tre Watson, and Noah Westerfield, the same four that had sort of separated themselves from the pack already. We know this because the team has now started doing scout work, which gives us a pretty good idea of who will be on the travel squad or in rotation, and who won't.
- With five of the other six, there was one injury (Quentin Tartabull), two guys who still look too green (Aisea Tongilava and Hamilton Anoa'i, both of whom were on scout, if memory serves -- I'll check again tomorrow), and one guy who just has too many bodies ahead of him (Chase Forrest).
- Luke Rubenzer is still somewhere in the middle of these two groups -- firmly entrenched at second string, and may or may not play depending largely on what happens with Jared Goff. The biggest difference between these two guys is how much more advanced Goff looks throwing the ball, touchwise, especially in the end zone fade. Some of those throws -- made in one on one situations and without a rush, to be fair -- look almost laser guided. We also know that this is a talent of his that exists during live situations going back to last year, too. I might be losing the bet on whether or not Rubenzer plays, but I feel more confident than ever about Goff upping his completion percentage.
- Once again, this is not to rule out the possibility of anyone else playing, either later this year or even in the next week or so once practices are completely closed. It is only an assessment of what has been shown publically.
- My guess is that if -- IF -- something happened to Chris Adcock, that Matt Cochran would get the first call, rather than Addison Ooms, even though the walkon freshman has been repping at second team center. Ooms, it should be said, took a hit during scout team from one of the linebackers, then pushed right back, encouraged by noted goon Jordan Rigsbee. I mean that word in the best possible sense, because if there's anyone who plays with some nasty up front, it's Rigs.
- Coach Dykes said that Erik Brown could "potentially" redshirt, likely giving himself that leeway in case something happens later down the line, but as of right now, I'd probably bump that to probably. He has been practicing at outside receiver the last couple of days too. Wagering that that's going to be the move for now.
- Kenny Lawler, who is out with a bruised thigh, did not take any snaps today, with Darius Powe moving from his customary inside post to the Z position instead. Maurice Harris ran with the ones.
- Also seeing time with the ones: Ray "Unc" Davison. I'll say it again probably later this year, but he prefers going by Uncle Ray, so I will indulge him here in this space.
- I'm assuming he was allowed out there because contact was limited today, but there was a Darius White sighting during scout work, and Puka Lopa returned to full team action as well.
- Avery Sebastian, who many expected would take the strong safety job, is still on the twos, as is Trevor Kelly. In the case of the latter, Coach Dykes' comments indicated that Austin Clark's job is still up for grabs, saying that he could possibly start.
- Still no idea what's happening with Hardy Nickerson, who takes reps with the ones sometimes, then is on the sideline for a bunch of full team periods, too. Mike Barton played at MIKE today, and while Devante Downs does have plenty of athletic upside, I'm guessing that he's still a bit too unrefined on where to be for the staff's taste right now. Still up in the air here, it looks like.
- Coach Dykes said Cedric Dozier might be the most improved player on the roster, and I'm inclined to agree. He worked his way into the starting group a week and a half ago and hasn't left.
- Six defensive tackles are expected to be in rotation. My guess, based on the way things have unfolded: Mustafa Jalil, Austin Clark, Trevor Kelly, Tony Mekari, Marcus Manley and probably Harrison Wilfley over David Davis for that last spot.
- Big plays at practice were had by the defense during scout work, including two picks by Michael Lowe - one that was just a sprawling, backhanded grab that was incredibly athletic - one by Trey Cheek, one by Michael Barton, and one by Darius Allensworth.
- Perhaps they were just responding to some pre-practice motivation, since they all had to do no less than 38 up-downs for some sort of punishment. Whatever the case, they came in force, breaking that huddle with "BE GREAT". They certainly were.
- Trevor Davis muffed a punt flat out on returns.
- Bryce Treggs was on the field first during these periods.
- Those last things notes may or may not be related.
- Monday was Chris Harper's biggest day to date, as he saw some time with the 1s -- in Davis' customary spot -- and sliced through the safeties for at least one long touchdown catch.
- I'll be watching specifically for Barton, Jalil, and Davison tomorrow. I may even spend the whole practice just watching those three guys. I haven't decided yet.
- No music at practice, giving all the feel of an important coaching day. You could certainly hear what was being said in the stands a whole lot more clearly. Examples:
Overheard from 20 rows up - @CALCoachLikens: "Be perfect."— Nam Le (@AGuyNamedNam) August 18, 2014
"BE A MAN! DON'T BE SCARED! DON'T BE SOFT!" - Likens during hands team practice— Nam Le (@AGuyNamedNam) August 18, 2014