While Sonny Dykes is in his second season at California, spring practices will begin Monday with plenty of newness. Call it a reboot after a dreary 1-11 campaign in Year 1.
Since getting rolled by rival Stanford on Nov. 23, Dykes has restructured his defensive staff, most notably hiring veteran coach Art Kaufman to coordinate a unit that was at an all-time low in 2013. He has tweaked the offseason conditioning program. He plans to change the structure of practices, including how he uses full-contact periods. He has refined his recruiting strategy.
Bottom line: Coaching in Berkeley and coaching the team he inherited, not to mention severe injury woes, made for a bumpy transition for Dykes from Louisiana Tech, one that he needed more than a few months to figure out.
"A lot of screwdriver adjustments go on, especially the first year," he said. "Hopefully, you get to a place where you are comfortable and try to change as little as possible."
He also plans to batten down the hatches a bit. After having open practices his first year, only six practices will be open this spring.
"Sometimes too much information is detrimental," he said. "There's too much stuff out there."
There is some good injury news, which also is a change in course. For one, quarterback Jared Goff is ready to go after shoulder surgery. Goff said he has been throwing at 100 percent for about a month, though Dykes isn't going to push his sophomore starter too hard.
"We've got to be careful not to put too much on him and blow his arm out early," Dykes said. "We're going to bring him along slowly, probably split reps early and see how he handles it, see how he feels, give him the occasional day off."
That won't be such a bad thing because, with the transfer of backup Zach Kline, Dykes will need a clear pecking order behind Goff.
The biggest boost will be for the defense, which will get end Brennan Scarlett back. Scarlett missed the entire season with a hand injury that didn't properly heal, but he's reportedly in great shape and at 100 percent. When healthy, Scarlett has flashed the sort of skills that get a guy drafted to play on Sundays.
"It all starts with Scarlett," Dykes said. "Physically, I think he has a chance to be a difference-maker."
Other players who missed much or all of last season, such as defensive back Stefan McClure, safety Avery Sebastian and linebacker Nathan Broussard, will be limited in what they can do. Defensive lineman Mustafa Jalil won't be ready to practice until the fall.
So there will be new players, new coaches and new formats in Dykes' second season. There are a lot of reasons to make changes, but Goff probably hit on the biggest as he talked about beginning anew in 2014.
Said Goff, "[We want to] get all that garbage behind us."