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BERKELEY -- Day Five of fall camp was not kind to the California football team. First, starting safety Avery Sebastian spent the day in a walking boot, the result of a bone spur in his heel, which head coach Sonny Dykes called “no big deal,” but it was sore enough to keep the junior on the sidelines.
“He could have practiced,” Dykes said, “but we’ll hold him today, and maybe again tomorrow.”
On a fairly dismal day on the offensive side of the ball, things only got worse when, during 11-on-11 work, after a dropped pass by Joel Willis on a pass by Zach Kline, sophomore receiver Bryce Treggs -- streaking down the left sideline -- came up lame after seeming to roll his right ankle.
“He’s got a very mild ankle sprain,” Dykes said. “He could have finished practice, but we just elected to ice him and keep him from swelling. We’ll evaluate in the morning. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t practice, but it’d probably be 50/50. It’s a very, very mild ankle sprain.”
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After starting the day taking handoffs out of the bone and looking fast and strong catching the ball -- both with the regular quarterbacks in, as well as with wildcat specialist Kyle Boehm -- inside receiver Richard Rodgers was stripped twice after making a catch – both times by the pairing of Isaac Lapite and Ikem Okwudiafor.
“We’re playing around with Rodgers a little bit, in some different spots, maybe carrying the ball on some short-yardage situations, and just trying to figure out how to get him the ball,” Dykes said. “He’s practiced well. He had two fumbles today, which is a bit uncharacteristic of him. He’s going to get that fixed. He’s had a good camp, and he’s a big, strong guy, so we’re trying to figure out ways to get him the football.”
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The young men throwing the balls, though, may have had the roughest day. Kline – who took first-team snaps for the vast majority of the day -- nearly threw three picks to cornerback Stefan McClure during seven-on-seven work. In 11-on-11s, Kline looked for the long ball, and then came back on his read to Chris Harper, but Adrian Lee was right there to sniff out the pass and came up with a big interception. Kline was later nearly sacked by Jacobi Hunter in 11-on-11s, but rolled right and found Kenny Lawler at the sticks for a first down.
“I think I did well, but seven-on-seven, that’s not real football,” Kline smirked. “Other than that, just getting the ball up, trying to let these guys make a play. In seven-on, I was hitting hands, the line’s doing really well, but it was just a bad practice today for everybody.”
Jared Goff -- who got the fewest reps in 11-on-11s of the three quarterbacks – had maybe his worst day since arriving on campus, starting his 11-on-11 series with a near pick by McClure on an overthrow intended for Lawler, then hitting a nifty inside screen to Khalfani Muhammad for a good-sized gain, but then taking two sacks in a row – the first by Gabe King and Mustafa Jalil, and the second by Kyle Kragen.
[READ MORE: Day Five Defensive Breakdown]
Later in seven-on-sevens, Goff overthrew Patrick Worstell -- who had Darius Allensworth beat up over the top -- in the back of the end zone. He then underthrew Caleb Coleman -- streaking down the right sideline -- on the next play, hitting defensive back Trevellous Cheek in the heel.
After Rodgers coughed up a would-be catch underneath, Goff took too much time trying to find Jack Austin on a curl route, resulting in a coverage sack.
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Goff’s next pass to the left for Brendan Bigelow was hauled in, but McClure was right on him, and in a game situation, Bigelow would likely have taken a massive hit.
“Today, I thought we were a little sloppy, offensively, today,” Dykes said. “It wasn’t the offense’s best day. I thought the defense had a better energy about them than they’ve had, and I thought they challenged the offense and the offense didn’t respond the way they have so far in team. I wasn’t really blown away by anybody’s performance, much less the quarterbacks.”
Austin Hinder -- who took second-team snaps and got the second-most reps behind Kline – had his poorest day of camp. Early in 11-on-11s midway through practice, Hinder started off by getting flushed left by the defensive line, and then throwing into coverage for a Kameron Jackson break-up.
Hinder then stepped up underneath on the next play and found some green, running for about 15 yards, showing off his biggest attribute – his legs. While Hinder had some better success on Friday going deep, that success was uneven, at best, and his first deep route of the day to Lawler wound up going right in and out of McClure’s hands for what McClure would certainly say should have been an interception.
King then came up with a forced fumble to end Hinder’s first 11-on drive.
Later on in the day, Hinder got a bit of help from Austin, who leaped high over Lee for a 35-yard grab.
“It was not as good a day offensively, as we’ve had,” Dykes said. “I thought the defense flew around, competed. I thought they played a little more physical than they’ve been playing, and you can see that they had a bit of an edge today that we didn’t have, offensively.”
-- Dykes called inside receiver Jackson Bouza “one of the more consistent receivers,” of camp. He’s also excelled at blocking, as has Junior Espitia, over the first five days, which Dykes said is “critical” for the inside receivers.
-- Bouza and Rodgers are in the mix for the Y-receiver spot, along with Stephen Anderson, who bounced back from a rough day on Thursday where he was out-physicalled by some of the defensive backs.
-- Former Bears Brian Treggs, Hardy Nickerson, Sr., and Tarik Glenn were in attendance at practice, as were twin recruits Nsimba Webster and Nzuzi Webster out of Antioch (Calif.) Deer Valley.
Glenn – a three-time Pro Bowler with the Indianapolis Colts, a Super Bowl champion and a four-year letterman at Cal – addressed the team after practice.
“He was great. He’s a guy that everybody in the Cal community is proud of,” Dykes said. “He’s done things the right way, he’s a great role model for our players and any time that you have an opportunity to bring somebody in who’s had the success that he’s had – he’s got his degree from here and he finished and has been very successful off the field and cares about the community – he wants to see us do well, so his message was great.”
Glenn came back to get his degree in Social Welfare in 1999, following his first two seasons in the NFL, which was a point that Dykes was pleased to see hammered home, given the new emphasis on academics that he and his staff have promoted.
“He talked about what a special place Cal was and how lucky we all were to be here, and what the value of getting an education from this place means and the impact it can have on everybody’s life,” Dykes said. “We tell our players all the time: It’s not a four-year decision; it’s a 40-year decision. He really emphasized that, and talked about our culture, the culture of the program, which is something that we’re working so hard to get right. That’s going to determine, really, how successful we are.
“He talked about the same things at Indianapolis that made them successful. That was a great culture, a great work ethic and commitment to each other. It was a good message.”
-- While the Bears were scheduled to go in full pads on Saturday at 4 p.m., Dykes said that they will instead stay in shorts and shells both on Saturday and Sunday, with the first full-pads session coming in Monday’s scrimmage.
-- Punter Cole Leininger got an extended workout with the boot on Friday, averaging between 4.4 and 4.8 seconds of hangtime on his punts, while Noah Beito struggled, with a low of 3.2 and a high of 3.6.
-- Kicker Vince D'Amato got his kicks in during kickoff return and cover work, booming every kick either inside the 10 or into the end zone.