Referees were present for live practice today, which allowed the Bears to mix and match with what they wanted to do in practice. Cal did a lot of situational stuff, starting with two minute drills and moving onto other things.
Cal’s first offense went down and scored on a Noah Beito field goal, then Cal’s second offense managed to get into the end zone with Chase Forrest finding Erik Brown for a deep bomb touchdown. The offense and defense both did good stuff competitively. Forrest received some nice accolades from Dykes, stating that the fall scrimmage work he did on Sunday nights has helped him improve to play at a higher level.
Ray Hudson and Darius Powe were complimentary of Goff and his development as a leader and a quarterback; with all the focus on the outside wide receivers, things have opened up on the inside for the big bodies like Powe and Hudson. They also mentioned Jacob Peeler as someone who has greatly assisted their development. The confidence is oozing from the receivers (even from the twos!)--this group has been together a long time.
The defensive edge rush has been decent, but it's unclear if that's more good for the defensive line or more bad for the offensive line. Dykes did emphasize using more looks in pass down defense situations and that the pass rush needs more consistency. The first team offensive line performed well (Vinnie Johnson and Brian Farley still remain entrenched as the starting tackles) while the second team offensive line struggled.
Darius White (who looks like he's solidifying his lead at one of the cornerback spots, as Dykes praised him for his strides) sat out Friday's practice, giving Cal's other cornerbacks a chance to make some plays. Darius Allensworth got an interception on Jared Goff on one of the drives, and Dykes seems to be up on his performance, especially with regards to technique. However, with the depth issues due to the injuries, you occasionally end up with mismatches, like Kenny Lawler battling with a walk-on.
Michael Barton and Hardy Nickerson also chatted about the improvement of the defense, as they try and lead the D. They chat about the importance of continuity from the group. All of the youth in the depth chart need veteran guidance from guys like Barton and Nickerson, who have been here awhile and are starting to feel more comfortable in their own skin. Now that the base defense is installed, they can start mixing and matching and use more various packages, particularly blitzing and dropping, and interchanging positions.
There were some interesting tidbits on recruiting strategy near the end of his presser.
With Cal landing another recruiting commitment yesterday, Dykes addressed how his staff has made steady strides on the recruiting trail. There were a lot of issues--Dykes had only a few months to assemble his first recruiting class, the second class came after a really bad season, and the third class was more along the lines of what Cal is hoping to assemble on a year-to-year basis. Also Dykes has to explain away the poor academics he had to clean up on arrival--now that the APR scores are steadily going up, things are looking up on the trail.
Dykes spoke about the danger of early commitments and the risks that you take on players who still haven't played their senior season. Also the issue of late offers was addressed, and how Cal took on a lot of late commitments in last year's class. It sounds like Sonny will probably do the same this season, hoping to find some developing gems and avoid taking too many chances on anyone other than the prospects he feels are worth of such offers.
What do you think about Cal's recruiting strategy of sending out a bunch of early offers but also waiting until post-senior season to find some jewels in the rough? Risky in the sense that Cal might lose out on some gems who have us in the mix, smart in the sense that the Bears can find rising stars before anyone else does, both, neither?