BERKELEY -- Nicks and bruises were the name of the game on the fourth day of the California football team's fall camp, and while that caused some starters to miss time, it also gave some other players further down the depth chart a chance to run with the first team defense.
In the secondary, Isaac Lapite got some first team action. He turned in an up-and-down performance, losing a jump ball in the end zone to Bryce Treggs, but otherwise looking comfortable defending inside receivers, several of whom have a few inches and quite a few pounds on him. He also forced a Brendan Bigelow fumble, the first fumble from the offense in fall camp
Redshirt junior cornerback Adrian Lee ran with the twos, but he looked very impressive, recording back-to-back pass deflections in team 11-on-11s, the second of which he almost picked off. With the wealth of wide receivers the Bears have, even going against the second string offense Lee found himself up against explosive players like Kenny Lawler, but he more than held his own, and showed an impressive combination of physicality and speed.
One defensive player that Cal doesn't have to worry about is redshirt sophomore Stefan McClure, but the cornerback had a rough day by his standards. He gave up multiple long catches to sophomore Chris Harper, but that says just as much about the talent of Harper as it does about the struggles of McClure. To be fair, McClure did spend a portion of the practice riding the exercise bike, so he may have been a little worn out as he continues to get back into the swing of things after his nasty knee injury put him out of commission for over a year.
It's the back that's the issue for middle linebacker Nick Forbes, and today he wasn't even in shoulder pads. Head coach Sonny Dykes said that the junior had a doctor's appointment today, and the team should know more about his injury tomorrow.
"He'll kind of be day-to-day for a while," Dykes said. "His deal is he feels good some days, doesn't other days, and that's kind of typical with the type of injury he has."
Lucas King and redshirt freshman Hardy Nickerson have been the two main beneficiaries of Forbes' absence. Both have gotten time with the first-team defense, with the latter showing an impressive ability to react to different offensive formations.
"Hardy's just getting better and better," Dykes said. "He showed flashes in the spring, and he's a guys who's got a real bright future. He's going to be a good player for us."
Junior Khairi Fortt continued his solid play, and has become more vocal as a leader in Forbes' absence these past few days.
Finally, the situation on the defensive line entering today was the same as it's been throughout fall camp. Senior Austin Clark has been slowed by injuries, Viliami Moala has been absent to focus on academics and Brennan Scarlett was till in the red no-contact jersey as he recovers from hand surgery.
Thursday was rough for other members of the defensive line, as well. Junior Sione Sina tweaked his knee and was held out of drills today, while Chris McCain dinged his surgically-repaired shoulder and went to the sidelines about midway through practice. Dykes said both injuries are minor, and he expects both players to return to action quickly.
On the positive side, defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil is looking more and more dominant. He already looks like a tank -- having slimmed down to 275 pounds -- but his attitude this fall camp has been off the charts, as he's always asking questions about proper technique and what he can do to get better. That persistence has paid off, as he's been in the backfield early and often during 11-on-11s. The two-headed monster of Deandre Coleman and Jalil in the middle will be quite the handful for Pac-12 offensive lines this fall.
DAY FOUR: More Battles in the Backfield
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