MESSAGE BOARDS: Spring Practice Megathread with VIDEO INTERVIEWS
BERKELEY, Calif. – It didn’t take long to identify the changes in Sonny Dykes’ first spring practice as California head coach. There were 150 fans in the stands at Memorial Stadium on Monday, five balls in the air at the same time, four down linemen on defense, and one new philosophy.
Play fast, fast, fast.
Players seemed to adapt well to the new tempo, with several early periods designed to get the offense moving quickly while getting used to the mechanics of substitutions and relaying in signals.
“I was kind of pleasantly surprised, honestly,” Dykes said. “Thought the energy was good, thought the attitude was good. There’s going to be a million mistakes, a ton of mistakes, but for the first day I thought it was good. I thought we improved.”
The three quarterbacks who received reps in the team period – redshirt senior Allan Bridgford, redshirt junior Austin Hinder, and redshirt freshman Zach Kline – were also incredibly upbeat discussing the new approach.
“I think we were very prepared for this first day,” Bridgford said. “Come the first game, it’s going to look nothing like it did. It’s going to look a lot better. Until you are with the coaches, you never know exactly how fast it is supposed to be.”
“It was definitely a lot more high-paced,” Hinder said. “Everything is quick. The plays come in really quick, so you got to be on your toes. I loved it. It was fun.”
The ultimate goal, Bridgford said, will be to run a new play within 15 seconds of the end of the previous one. That starts by establishing the same speed in practice, which will help with the installation of the new spread scheme.
“It gets guys to be aware,” Kline said. “It gets guys to be always on their toes and really demands the best out of them, which is what this program needs.”
It will also maximize reps during the 15 practices in February and March, which is needed as Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin look to identify a new starting quarterback.
Kline made an early impression by finding sophomore receiver Bryce Treggs for a long pass during the team period, drawing cheers from those in attendance. Hinder later found junior college transfer Drake Whitehurst for a big gain, one of several big plays for that tandem.
Redshirt sophomore Kyle Boehm and early enrollee Jared Goff will get to state their cases later this week, but “quick decisions” to narrow the competition will be coming soon, Franklin said.
“I’m pleased with the group so far, and we’ll see how the other guys respond when they get their opportunities,” Dykes said.
Buh on Ice
Defensive coordinator Andy Buh worked with his left arm in a sling, after undergoing surgery to repair a rotator cuff injury he suffered last Dec.
Buh, who oversaw the Wisconsin defense in the Rose Bowl after head coach Bret Bielema departed for Arkansas, slipped on ice while jogging.
“I told him he didn’t have to worry about that here,” Dykes joked about the weather.
Buh elected to delay the surgery until after Cal’s recruiting class was signed.
Dykes identified running back Darren Ervin and receivers Griffin Piatt and Jackson Bouza as players that surprised him. … Cal will hold its first practice in pads Friday, Dykes said.
Dan Greenspan writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.