BERKELEY -- California head Sonny Dykes spoke with the media today for seven minutes and seventeen seconds. Sonny Dykes spoke about the Bears defense for zero of those seven minutes and seventeen seconds.
A little extracurricular activity and some explosive plays on offense were the dominant storylines of Day Seven of fall camp, so it was only fitting that the defense took a backseat both on and off the field. The most noteworthy play of the day on the defensive side of the ball was an interception by walk-on defensive back Dan Fadelli on Austin Hinder's first throw of the final session of 11-on-11's.
The other big development on defense was Avery Sebastian's return at free safety. When he, Michael Lowe, Kameron Jackson, and Stefan McClure were all on the field at the same time, the defense did a good job of limiting the offense to short gains. But even when one of those four was off the field, the overall performance of the defense suffered. Now, other injuries may have also played a factor, such as Trevellous Cheek hobbling around Memorial Stadium on crutches due to a hamstring injury and defensive lineman Todd Barr out of uniform for the second half of practice. But the end of today's practice further reinforced that the secondary needs to stay healthy.
One youngster pressed into more action as a result of the injury to Cheek was Cedric Dozier, who had a rough day. On back-to-back plays, he was beaten by James Grisom and Jack Austin for long gains over the top by freshman quarterback Jared Goff.
Issac Lapite continues to play steady, fundamentally-sound defense, and the result is that he is seeing plenty of time with the one's in nickel packages. A large portion of the first two sessions of 11-on-11's were running plays, and Lapite repeatedly shed blocks to make tackles in the backfield, bringing down both Jeffrey Coprich and Khalfani Muhammad. He didn't get much rest, moving to outside corner for second-team reps. While he wasn't as successful there, getting burned by Kenny Lawler once on a pass over the middle from Zach Kline, it's good to see that kind of versatility out of the junior.
Defensive lineman Kyle Kragen continues to impress with his motor. The JuCo transfer initially looked bottled up by Steven Moore in one 11-on-11 rep, but he continued to pursue Kline, eventually getting to him for a non-contact sack. At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, Kragen is a little under-sized for the defensive line, but he's been making plays all camp due to his speed and persistence, and those are two qualities needed at the rush end position.
We've heard Kragen's name a lot this fall camp, but maybe not as much as Hardy Nickerson, Jr. Redshirt junior Nick Forbes -- who got in on one 11-on-11 team rep late in practice -- might want to hurry up his rehab process, because he might have lose his starting spot if he doesn't. Even Dykes said the starters aren't set in stone. Nickerson never seems to take a play off, and I'm not sure I've seen him out of position so far this fall camp. Defensive coordinator Andy Buh has even used him as an example for some of the freshmen linebackers, such as Johnny Ragin III, who's having a strong camp in his own right.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Barton also saw time with both the first and second unit.
Redshirt sophomore SAM linebacker Jalen Jefferson made a nice tackle on running back Daniel Lasco in positional work, stopping the powerful runner in his tracks.
After a strong day five, Ikem Okwudiafor has fallen off a bit, and was juked pretty badly by Darius Powe in one-on-ones. Powe caught the ball and went to the left before quickly changing directions, and by the time Okwudiafor recovered, Powe was already off to the races for a long gain.
Khairi Fortt was a little dinged up throughout the day, taking some reps off during 11-on-11s. But he came back to finish the day, and whatever was impacting him during some parts of practice seemed to go away by the end of it.
Defensive tackle Viliami Moala was not at practice.
DAY SEVEN: Up and Down Day for Cal D
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