BERKELEY -- The California defense once again had a strong day of practice, both against the offense and against the scout team on Tuesday.
Once again, it was the linebackers who showed up early, and often.
WILL linebacker Jalen Jefferson took advantage of good edge pressure by Chris McCain off the right edge to dish out a solid licking to freshman quarterback Jared Goff in 11-on-11s, stripping the ball in the process.
Jefferson was also strong in coverage, stopping tailback Brendan Bigelow in his tracks on a five-yard pass from Goff in the red zone.
Khairi Fortt was all over the field, stripping Bigelow after the dynamic tailback hauled in a pass from Goff in 11-on-11s. Against the scout team offense, Fortt showed good pursuit speed, driving the scout team quarterback out of bounds at the 25 after a minimal gain.
The defense benefitted from the return of Deandre Coleman -- who was out on Monday with a "bump on his knee," according to head coach Sonny Dykes -- as well as free safety Avery Sebastian, who returned to duty with the first-team defense for the first time since his Aug. 12 concussion, and participated on special teams with the punt coverage unit.
For the first time all fall, Brennan Scarlett was not in a red jersey, and participated in minimal contact.
Offensive lineman Matt Williams worked a bit with the defensive tackles, but only to help improve his technique, interior line coach Barry Sacks explained. Sacks played coy when asked if the move could be permanent, but perhaps as an indication of things to come, Sacks had already bestowed one of his patented nicknames on the Big Brit: "Canada." Despite Williams' noticeable English accent, Sacks thought he was from the Great White North, even though the rest of the defensive tackles kept telling him that Williams was from Britain. Needless to say, it stuck.
Sacks was once again very hard on JuCo transfer Marcus Manley, but, he said, it's out of love.
"He's a ball," Sacks smiled. "You could hit him in the head with a two-by-four and he wouldn't stop. He wouldn't care. That's toughness."
Defensive back Trevellous Cheek was seen running on the sidelines during practice, as he recovers from a hamstring injury suffered during camp.
Defensive back Cedric Dozier had one of his best practices in recent memory, breaking up a 40-yard bomb from Goff to James Grisom, forcing a fumble by freshman Khalfani Muhammad and then recovering that fumble.
McCain also came up with a strip of Grisom, after a 15-yard completion by Goff.
Redshirt senior inside receiver Jackson Bouza was unstoppable on Tuesday. In seven-on-seven work, he found the soft spot in coverage for a 15-yard catch out of Goff's hands, and then hauled in a quick out for five yards. In 11-on-11s, Goff found Bouza on the left against Fortt for a good gain, and Bouza held onto the pigskin despite a concerted effort by the much-larger Fortt to strip it.
True freshman linebacker Chad Whitener worked with the second team on Tuesday at the MIKE position in seven-on-seven work. During 11-on-11 play, Whitener tallied a sack on Zach Kline.
Gabe King saw time with the first team defensive line, alongside Viliami Moala. Todd Barr also saw time as the first-team defensive end, coming up with a clutch red zone sack on the scout team QB from the defense's 10-yard line.
Inside receiver Richard Rodgers ended practice with a one-handed diving grab on the sideline in the red zone. That's the type of play that wins football games.
NOTE: Dykes was unavailable for comment after practice due to his noon presser.
NOTEBOOK: Tuesday Practice
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