The Golden Bears practiced hard this Cal Day, with hundreds fans and a mass of eager junior prospects in attendance.
The team took the field today with injuries continuing to hold several players back. Safeties Avery Sebastian and Stefan McClure were unable to practice today, but are making progress. “I think they’re close,” explained Coach Dykes. “We’re still just trying to bring them along slowly. We don’t want to set them back at all. We just want to make sure that we get them as far advanced as we possibly can and as healthy as we possibly can. We don’t want stuff to linger, so I think next week we should expect both of them to be more in the mix and starting to contribute more.”
Wide receiver Bryce Treggs saw some work today as he fights his way back from injury. Dykes expects him to be back to full health by the middle of next week. Running back Austin Harper is still limited as he nurses his shoulder after surgery. The team is taking a similarly careful approach with Harper as they are with Sebastian and McClure. “Harper’s doing more and more. He had a little shoulder surgery; again don’t want to set him back. It’s important for him to be able to develop in the weight room, so if we set him back that’s a potential month or two loss in the weight room. And so we’ve got to be smart about bringing him along because he’s got to get bigger and stronger, and a big part of that is being able to get in the weight room and lift, and so we can’t afford to set him back,” said Coach Dykes.
The team’s cautious approach with bringing back these players is understandable, as it’s difficult to practice and create game-day scenarios when you’re short on athletes. “We’ve got so many, like always in the spring, you’re always minus about twenty guys and we’re minus probably at least twenty five, so we don’t have any bodies,” stated offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. “And so it’s wonderful to go fast if you’ve got four guys that can do it, but when, like the running back position, you’re down to just a couple of guys out there that are healthy, and we’re moving people around just to fill practice out. And so we’re just trying to make sure that the number one goal is to get through this deal, get better, get better on fundamentals, but also just to keep everybody healthy.”
There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the team is making progress, but there hasn’t been very much to quantify that progress by. When asked about how the team has changed from last year, Coach Dykes gave meaning to these claims by saying, “Well I think the biggest thing honestly is just our mentality today was much much better just because what we did today was come out and have a physical practice right after a long scrimmage. There’s no way we would have been able to do that last year.… Obviously offensively we’re a little more settled. Our offensive line has made huge strides. There’s still a lot of things we’ve got to get better at. Still have to get the snap situation figured out. We’re still not consistent enough with the snaps like we need to be. The progress is there. It’s a different football team. Out mentality is much improved. I think we’re much more physical. I think we’re much more tough and I love the way we competed today and now we’ll see if we can keep it going.”
While the returning team from last year is making important strides this offseason, a solid recruiting class could also bolster the team for the upcoming season by adding depth to the roster that has been made thin with various injuries. In addition to today’s practice coinciding with Cal Day, it was also Junior Prospect Day, with over 100 junior prospects in attendance. Perhaps backup quarterback Kyle Boehm wanted to show off to the prospects when he showed off his speed with a 55 yard touchdown run during the scrimmage today. Boehm’s speed has gotten him playing time as he is occasionally utilized to throw off the defense, but Dykes recently talked about how they’re working with him to improve his passing game and make him more of a dual threat when he goes into the game.
Though today's action wasn't a scrimmage, some of the highlights from today's action included several nice grabs by redshirt frosh receiver Jack Austin, including a sliding grab from his back, a 40-yard reception by junior Chris Harper, who's still participating in limited contact, a pair of nice grabs by receiver Darius Powe, including a 10-yard td in 7-on-7's and a 34-yard completetion to junior receiver Trevor Davis.
To view post practice interviews with Dykes and Franklin, use the embedded viewers below:
To view today's mic'd up feature with receivers coach Rob Likens, use the embedded viewer below: