Though the practices can vary wildly, the Daily Cal takes you through what the typical day looks like for the Cal squad once practice begins at 5 p.m.
Practice begins. The first players arrive via the north tunnel and begin warming up.
At this point, the players are going through what is called prepractice — some basic warm-up drills to get them loose and ready for the day. Music is playing, and the atmosphere is relaxed overall. Eventually, more and more players trickle out of the north tunnel, and the entire team is on the field.
All the players line up on various yard lines and begin a set of stretches and warm-up routines. Coach Sonny Dykes can be seen surveying his team each day during this portion of practice, often looking like a field general with his hands behind his back as he observes. This stretching time marks the beginning of actual practice.
The first drill in practice is always an 11-on-11 with the offense and defense facing off. This particular drill is usually very short; sometimes it will only consist of a handful of plays and will often only feature one of the three quarterbacks.
Immediately following the first 11-on-11, the team breaks into separate groups to work on individual drills. This typically involves drills in which the offense is in a skeleton formation — essentially a 7-on-7, but offensive players take the place of defenders. This drill helps players work on formations and other basics. Meanwhile, the defense is at the south side of the end zone — usually with the defensive backs, linebackers and defensive line all working separately with their individual coaches.
At this point, practice becomes a madhouse. Players switch drills every few minutes, and the all-important 11-on-11 drills become intermixed.
Essentially, practice looks very much like Sonny Dykes’ offense is supposed to look — fast and complex. It’s impossible to focus on everything at once.
Practice always concludes with a final 11-on-11 drill. This one lasts longer than the rest and often goes the full length of the field, with each quarterback getting his turn under center.
When the players begin practicing kick return drills, the practice is all but over. The quarterbacks can be seen trying to throw footballs into a trash can at this point — with mixed success. Some individual training continues, but many players are already wrapping up.
The players huddle up and take a knee near center field for some inspiring words from members of the coaching staff. The day is summed up, and the players are dismissed. Media interviews are conducted shortly afterward, and the camp is over for the day.