IN-DEPTH: Running Backs

IN-DEPTH: Running Backs

Finally healthy, Cal running back Daniel Lasco is ready to take a leadership role on the young offense.

BERKELEY -- It's no secret that the California running back corps is depleted. With Brendan Bigelow declaring for the NFL Draft, Vic Enwere and Tre Watson yet to arrive on campus and Khalfani Muhammad splitting time between football and track, the bulk of the reps have fallen on the shoulders of Jeffrey Coprich -- who had two big runs on Wednesday during the Bears' full-pads practice – and Daniel Lasco, who was, as of late, sidelined with a hamstring issue.

"Not bad, not bad," head coach Sonny Dykes said of Coprich's performance on Wednesday. "He had a couple of long runs in the live team period, a couple of productive runs. I think he's doing some good things. He's certainly gotten better, and we've just got to keep working to be consistent at that position."

"It's good to have Lasco back. We're hurting a little bit, from a depth standpoint, with Khalfani not being here today. Coprich and Lasco had to get a lot of reps, and some of the other guys are going in there, working hard and doing their thing, but they're just a little behind. At times, our execution is not as good as it should be, just because we don't have the depth that we need at that spot."

Beyond those Lasco and Coprich, Cal has little Austin Harper, and added former receiver Kenny Portera to the mix.

"I mean, we still have two freshmen coming in, I don't know if they're going to bring any transfers in, but it doesn't matter," Lasco says. "Right now, it's all four of us – we have Kenny, we have Austin Harper and we have Jeff and me, so it's all four of us taking the reps, and whoever's in there, they're going to have to step up to the plate and grind, just as if they're the starter."

Lasco has now spent four practices back among the living, and he's been making a big impact.

"It's good to see Daniel back," says Dykes. "He's doing a lot of good things. I think he's vastly improved from where he was last year. He's seeing things better, he's more comfortable, he's playing faster. I think the biggest thing is, he's playing behind his pads, better. He's finishing runs, getting lower, so it's good to see him making progress."

Lasco has been making more than just progress on the field. He's also the old man now in the backfield, and he knows that he has to take a larger role off the field, because of the youth of the offense.

"I feel different. I feel like I'm starting to take a leadership role," says Lasco, who rushed for 317 yards on 67 carries last season. "People are starting to look up to me. I'm starting to be able to have a voice on the team, and kind of just be the captain of the offense. Each and every day, I try to come out with a positive attitude, and try to help the team and our offense as much as I can, whether that's motivating or trying to get people to push through. Today was kind of a hot day in California, so people were a little sluggish. We've got to pick it up on Friday, when we have our light practice, and then, when Saturday comes around, hopefully, everything will crisp up for our little scrimmage."

That "little scrimmage" on Saturday will likely be Lasco's last test until the spring game on April 26, and he's ready to take the lion's share of the reps.

"I'd better. I need to," Lasco says. "I need to get out there and start pushing through some stuff and really start getting comfortable with the offense. It's one of those practice things. You keep practicing and practicing, and everything just starts slowing down, and once everything slows down, then the sky's the limit."

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