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Bear Insider Video: Cal Running Backs Chris Street & Ashton Hayes

November 10, 2022

Following practice this week, we had the opportunity to catch up with running backs Chris Street and Ashton Hayes to talk about the season so far and what’s ahead.

Though Hayes played on special teams in coverage in two games prior to last week's contest, he saw his first duty as a kick returner and running back, with 6 returns for 119 yards (19.1 ypr) and one carry for 15 yards.

“It felt great to do the opportunity to do what Coach Wilcox had told me before coming here that I can do,” said Hayes. “So being able to put that to tape and put it to the field is really cool. I think it’s a developing art and to be a returner is a dying art, I feel happy in it. I want to create that spark like that DeSean Jackson thing that has been lost in football.”

Street was out for much of the season after suffering an injury in fall camp but hopes to make the most of any chances he might get on the field after rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown in 21 carries (5.1 ypc) last season. He was asked what he’d like to show on the field if he gets a chance in the remaining games this season.

“I’m just looking forward to making the most of my opportunity,” said the always ebullient Street. “To show all the work I have put in, all the hard work. Honestly, just my ability. I got some opportunities last year and I am looking to put things on tape from the games. I try to do my best but it’s all the O-Line. The big boys up front.”

The Bears have suffered an inordinate amount of injuries this season, with all but ten starters missing at least some time due to injury.

“I think that is just the notion of the team,” said Hayes. “I think all the coaches here preach a next-man-up mentality. I feel like our line especially has had some struggles, but it’s been a key focus in meetings and a key focus out here on the field. You have to step up to the challenge but when the fallen soldier goes down, someone has to step up. To be able to fill that role and complete that challenge is exactly what the coaches are looking for. I think that’s just the testament to the team.”

“I believe that just speaks to the talent that we have,” said Street. “Just waiting to get that opportunity and to just show their abilities. For them to just come in and execute shows their attention in meetings and attention to details and at practice. So that they can be able to be thrown in and execute at a high level just shows the work ethic coming in. It just shows the depth we have as a team.”

With those injuries as well as the graduation or portal transfer of several veterans has come the opportunities for several young players to play or even start early and show their talent when they’ve gotten a chance to shine.

“Our coaches preach that as well,” said Hayes. “Like I said previously with our next-man-up mentality. It’s our notion when your number gets called, you go out there like Chris said and show what you’ve been working on.”

Both players were asked to review each other’s strengths a players.

“Chris is a super strong guy,” noted Hayes. “I have admired his pass protection. It is something he’s been helping me with since I got here. The BPU (blitz pick up) drill when he was injured, he came over and gave me a little pep talk and gave me keys and tips on how to defeat my guy. I have carried those along the way. Also his power and his hidden speed. People don’t think he’s fast but Chris is fast. He’s definitely a wrecking ball out there. You don’t want to try to tackle him.”

“That man is fast,” said Street of Hayes. “I remember the first time I saw him running out here during the summer and I said, ‘Man I didn’t think he was that fast.’ I’d watched some of the tape… but sometimes it doesn’t really translate until you’re in person. Hayes is fast. But also, his ability to learn kind of like he said. I help him with the blitz pick-up scenarios, give him some tips and tricks. He wants to learn and wants to win. He has that drive and that will. Along with the passion, I admire it with that will to learn. He really just soaks it in. Me being a little bit older and a bit more experienced in the system, he definitely takes after me and asks the questions. He’s a bad man.”

Late in fall camp, the staff added a developmental period to the end of practice for young players not in the rotation and when Hayes got the chance, he turned lots of head with his blazing speed around the edge on several long carries or TDs.

“Coach Musgrave is always giving me the opportunity to show my skill set,” noted Hayes. “He selects the plays like the outside zone where I can show my speed and my ability. Not only is it what I can do but it’s a combination of what the coaches believe I can do. Propelling my skillset, so shout out to the coaches for that.”

At times this season, when running lanes weren’t open for starting running back Jaydn Ott, he’s been used in with solid success in the passing game, hauling in 31 catches for 216 yards and two TDs so far this season. Both players were asked if the passing game was an area where they’d like to be utilized in if they get the chance.

“Absolutely,” said Hayes. “Got to keep the hands sharp. But I would definitely be excited to get in those pass games. In my senior year of high school, I got to take a little bit of the load and move to slot receiver and I thought, ‘Wow, this is actually kind of fun. A little bit of space to work in. It was different. It was really a different role for me and I felt like I could thrive. I’m a little shifty so I got to showcase some of that with my route running and my ability to learn.”

“Yeah, I think that was one of my strengths coming in as a recruit,” added Hayes, who had 421 yards and 3 TDs through the air during his prep career. “And just being able to utilize my full skill set and doing what’s best for the team. For Jaydn (Ott), he’s excelled every time they put him out there. So, I think that’s just the notion of coach AT (Aristotle Thompson) and all the other coaches. They expect a lot out of us. They want us to achieve something that’s impossible because they know what we can do and trust us to get that down. So, everybody in that room can get that done if given the opportunity.”

“Running backs have got to be dynamic nowadays,” noted Street. “You cannot just be one-dimensional. You can run the ball? Great. Now we have to run the ball and catch balls out of the backfield, so it is definitely a growing game for our position. So, we have to step up when they give us a new task and we have to match it.”

“For Jaydn (Ott) to be able to step up and do that, especially as a true freshman like myself, we have those conversations sometimes. Being a young guy and getting it so quickly. He’s been helping me even with certain things because he catches on really fast. He’s a fast learner and I think his confidence is something you can admire for sure. Every time he’s out there, he’s looking to score. Especially at this level of football, it’s not high school anymore. You can’t be a bully anymore there’s a lot of us (players who dominated at the prep level).”

“There’s a lot of bad dudes out there, all at one time,” agreed Street with a smile.

Even though the Bears fell to then #9 USC last weekend, 41-35, after getting down several scores, the team never quit, pouring on 28 second-half points to almost catch the talented Trojans. Does what they were able to do in the second half give the offense confidence in their ability to put together some wins in the following few games of the season as they try and win out their last three games and sneak into a bowl game?

“Yeah, I think the whole season has been finding what jives and what goes together like we know It can,” said Hayes. “All through fall camp, those write-ups about the team were not false write-ups. That’s really how we play and to show that against #9 USC, I think that’s a testament to who we’ve been this whole time and it’s been sort of difficult for no specific reason. But now that I think we’ve honed in and Coach Wilcox has said it, don’t accept losing. So, I think we’re just fighting to get these last 3 wins like I know we can. We should’ve won a lot more games earlier on in the season. It’s that confidence and that trust earlier on in the season and get it done.”

“I believe a big word for us is just believe,” added Street. “I think if we believe in our skill and our potential early on and carry it on throughout the whole game instead of getting mad, I believe if we start with that we will have some high-scoring games. We have some much potential and so much power and it’s all just putting it together for our offense, and like you said it’s been difficult with a little bit of adversity here and there but once we put it all together… watch out.”

Kickoff is slated for 6 pm at Reser Stadium Saturday night on the Pac-12 Network. Though the recent rains have abated, it’s expected to be a particularly chilly night in Corvallis.

Other stories:
Bears Face Beavers With Pride On The Line

Ultimate Insider Podcast E48: Cal-USC Recap -Audio

Discussion from...

Bear Insider Video: Cal Running Backs Chris Street & Ashton Hayes

1,145 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 9 days ago by Newbearette
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I would love to see both of these players on the field more this year and next year. I felt like these 2 in particular were a little overlooked bc frankly we had a pretty good number of talented players to talk about. Hayes' numbers already eye opening albeit for his few touches in late game situations.
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Unused talent
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I think Hayes' time will come very soon. I can't imagine Damien Moore sticking around. Imagine going from editor to the copy desk. DeCarlos Brooks is good enough to be the man at a g5 school; he's not dislodging Ott (assuming Ott stays) but he will have to compete against younger talent for dwindling snaps.
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Hayes time should be here. Aristotle Thompson seems too bias to use the different talents of the other RBs.
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