BERKELEY, Calif. – No matter how productive an offense looks through the first two days of spring, the defense inevitably turns the tables when the pads come on.
It happened again Friday night at Memorial Stadium, as California practiced in shoulder pads for the first time. Head coach Sonny Dykes seemed to take it in stride, aware of the added degree of difficulty for the offense with the installation of a new system.
“Usually the first day in pads is sloppy and I thought today was kind of sloppy,” Dykes said.
Dykes, however, was troubled by poor ball security and fatigue on offense. Those issues converged at the running back position, where there was a noticeable step back.
Redshirt freshman Jeffrey Coprich was especially upset with how he performed, fumbling several times and struggling to catch the ball out of the backfield.
“Honestly it didn’t go well. It just wasn’t a good practice,” Coprich said. “I’m calling myself out. I’ve been called out. We’ve been called out as a unit. We need to step our game up. The defense won today.”
Dykes agreed with that last statement.
"Anytime you put the ball on the ground as many times as we did it is disappointing, but it is a positive because it means the defense is doing a good job stripping the ball,” Dykes said. “Those guys really did a good job of flying around, getting to the football, and stripping it.”
Junior-college transfer Kyle Kragen led the way for an energized defensive line, beating left tackle Freddie Tagaloa on consecutive plays during one-on-one drills, the second with a punishing bull rush to blow right past the larger sophomore lineman. Teammates erupted with celebratory hoots and hollers after each play.
“It sounded like some people were fired up down there,” said Dykes, who was at the other end of Memorial Stadium at the time watching 7-on-7s.
Listed at 250 pounds and looking much slimmer than that, Kragen was giving up no less than 100 pounds to Tagaloa, but considered it a welcome test.
“I was trying to go against Freddie because he is massive and probably the best tackle,” Kragen said. “Just trying to work against the best people. Got kind of lucky.”
After one week of workouts, Dykes was far more effusive in his praise of Kragen’s abilities.
“He is exactly what we thought when we recruited him,” Dykes said. “He is an effort guy that is going to consistently come out everyday and give you 100 percent effort. When you do that and you have some ability, good things are going to happen.”
Rep It Up
Redshirt freshman Zach Kline and freshman Jared Goff received the majority of reps at quarterback Friday, but Dykes was quick to caution not “to put too much into it.
“You give somebody a lot of reps and they either do well, in which case they get more, or they don’t do well, in which case they get less,” Dykes said. “It’s a moving target really.”
Details of Dykes’ five-year, $9.7 million contract were announced Friday, and in his usual self-deprecating manner, the coach addressed it with a joke.
“You know, I haven’t read it. I’m kind of anxious to see what it says,” Dykes said.
Safety Alex Logan (left knee) did not practice. Dykes said more details regarding the injury would likely be available Monday.
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Dan Greenspan writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.