BERKELEY -- Making a strong first impression was important to Sonny Dykes in his first game at Memorial Stadium.
So when the Bears stalled at the Northwestern 10-yard line on the opening drive of the game, he was prepared to make that happen.
Common logic says kick the field goal, take the lead and give high fives, but that wouldn’t have resulted in the splash Dykes was aiming for. It wasn’t the time to play it safe, it was time to open up the playbook.
He sent out the field goal unit, which executed a perfect fake in which kicker Vince D’Amato connected with holder Jackson Bouza -- also a starting receiver -- for a 10-yard touchdown. Bouza initially flipped the ball over his head to D’Amato before curling into the flat where he caught the pass and darted untouched to usher in the Dykes era with an unexpected score.
“I thought we needed to play incredibly aggressive,” Dykes said. “I thought our players needed to see we as coaches are playing to win, not to not lose and so I thought it was very, very important to send that message to our players and, quite frankly, our fans.”
“You had to get a feel for it and we had a particular look that we were looking for and they gave us the look,” Dykes said. “Credit (special teams coach) Mark Tommerdahl, did a good job of recognizing that and coming up with that fake.”
Cal practiced the play several times throughout the week in anticipation of the opportunity and later in the ran a successful hook-and-ladder play for a first down.
From a win-loss standpoint, the season could go a number of ways, but if the opener was an indication of what’s to come, Dykes’ brand of football will make Cal a team worth watching.