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BERKELEY -- During the first set of 11-on-11s on Tuesday, California wide receiver – and Biletnikoff Award Watch List member -- Chris Harper went full-on parallel to the ground as he hauled in a pass from Jared Goff against good coverage from redshirt sophomore cornerback Stefan McClure -- who, earlier in the day, had called him one of the top three wide receivers he’d ever seen. Harper came down hard on his left shoulder, and spent the rest of practice in an ice pack and a sling.
Harper was back at practice on Wednesday, without either accouterments, and head coach Sonny Dykes said that one of his biggest weapons will be in full practice on Thursday as the Bears get ever closer to the Aug. 31 opener against No. 22 Northwestern.
Harper was out due to a mild shoulder sprain.
“We expect him to play Saturday,” Dykes said.
McClure had a nice day on Wednesday, as a part of a strong effort by the defense (which turned in two red-zone stops of the first- and second-team offense). McClure notably turned in a jumping, tumbling pick of freshman starting quarterback Jared Goff, intended for Lawler in the back of the end zone.
Redshirt freshman receiver Kenny Lawler was a one-man Army on Wednesday in Harper’s stead, though, with several big grabs, but the star on offense was Daniel Lasco. Lasco is consistently the hardest, smoothest runner of the tailbacks, with probably the best hands out of the backfield.
Not to be outdone, though, was Brendan Bigelow. Early during 11-on-11s, Bigelow tore off a 20-yard, five-cut run that was, simply put, special, as he made four defenders miss.
For the second straight day, both Brennan Scarlett and Deandre Coleman were back in blue, though Scarlett is not 100% cleared for game action.
“We’ll know tomorrow for sure,” Dykes said. “We’ll know tomorrow what’s going on.”
Dykes said “there’s a chance” Scarlett could play on Saturday.
Redshirt junior linebacker Nick Forbes was once again out of practice due to what Dykes called a “disc issue” in his back, and is “doubtful” for the game.
Free safety Avery Sebastian, however, will be ready and raring for the Wildcats, as he practiced in full pads with the first-team for the second straight day.
“We expect him to play, and we’ll see how he feels,” Dykes said. “I would expect him to start and play and just be like anybody else.”
Goff then responded with an absolute seed to Maurice Harris for a seven-yard touchdown.
Bryce McGovern also had a standout day, making a scintillating diving grab in coverage in 11-on-12s early in the day for a 15-yard pickup against Damariay Drew on a throw from Zach Kline, and then hauling in several more physical receptions throughout the afternoon.
Kline was touched up for a sack by Chris McCain with the second-team offense going against the first-team defense later in practice.
Thursday will be a helmets-only practice for the Bears.
“We always cut it down a little bit; We have a big game plan that gets reduced from Wednesday to Thursday, and we’ll end up doing the stuff that we like and that we’re executing well and cutting some of the stuff that we’ve been playing around with,” Dykes said.