The Cougars wrapped up practice at about 10:45 p.m. today, a combination of Sunday's late practice time and Tuesday's practice length as team tries to get as much good work in as possible before Friday's game. After practice we spoke with defensive coordinator Mike Breske, who talked about the defense's struggles in the second half on Saturday and what he expects from Stanford.
The practice report is after the jump.
"Today's practice marked the return to action of receiver Kristoff Williams, who we have only rarely seen on the practice field since the Nevada game. Williams practice with the ones at Z receiver.
However, X receiver Dom Williams was limited during practice and was safety Sulaiman Hameed, who did not play against California. Hameed wasn't entirely limited, however, as he took part in a number of drills.
We did see one new face at safety today, that of Daquawn Brown, who has started every game at cornerback.
"We're just taking a look at Daquawn at safety," Breske said. "Giving him some reps there and that type of deal and trying to create some flexibility on the back end."
The ability to move Brown indicates the coaches are likely a little more confident in the depth at cornerback than at safety, at least while Hameed is limited. Taylor Taliulu started in Hameed's place on Saturday -- he was the starter earlier in the year and has started 17 games in his career. But with Isaac Dotson limited and Teondray Caldwell gone, the Cougars don't really have anyone else with game experience at safety.
The Cougars are young at cornerback but the coaches like what they're seeing.
"Pat (Porter) had a good seven-on-seven tonight," Breske said. "Marcellus (Pippins), a little bit up and down but they're coming along. Pat needs to get in the game and get some reps and he's got to have quality practices to play on Saturday."
Breske described Saturday's game as a tale of two halves and said that the coaches spent the second half imploring to step up and be the guy to make a play and stop Cal's offensive momentum.
"We had to get one stop, that's all we needed," he said. "One stop. Our offense was on fire and we just needed one stop and we win the ballgame."
The Cougars brought extra pass-rushers throughout the game in an effort to throw off Cal quarterback Jared Goff. It worked on the first couple drives, but once Goff got in a rhythm the Cougars struggled to get to him before the ball was out of his hands.
"Give them some credit, his release was very quick, he was reading pressure and the ball was out," Breske said. "We affected some throws, that type of deal but we've got to play better man-to-man and we had a good session against our offense in seven-on-seven but we've just got to keep working those skills. And no yards after catch, get there and tackle."
Now the Cougars face a Stanford team that presents a different challenge to the pass-happy Bears. The Cardinal like to run the ball, although they don't have the single, dominant running back that's been associated with Stanford in recent years.
"It's just different guys," Breske said. "They're still getting in the big personnel package, they get into one-back packages, two-back packages, things they have traditionally done. They're just doing it by committee at the running back position."
"They have to be more physical than Stanford," he added. "Stanford hangs their hat on physicality and (defensive line) coach (Joe) Salave'a talked to the unit today about being the most physical as a unit but more importantly, as an individual. You've got to be more physical than the guy you're going against and that's a big challenge."