With a new coach in the defensive backfield – former Philadelphia Eagles assistant John Lovett -- and eight new defensive backs, this defense will look quite a bit different when Cal kicks off against Grambling State, and two reasons why are freshman Evan Rambo -- who’s now tallied four interceptions over the first three days of fall camp, including a one-handed job on Sunday, in the Bears’ first day in shoulder pads – and Damariay Drew.
“He’s just got a nose for the football,” Dykes said of Rambo. “You go back and look at the tape, he does a nice job breaking on the routes, and reads the quarterback’s eyes well. He’s a good athlete. He’s long, he can run. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that -- in three practices, a guy’s got four picks. It’s good to see that out of a true freshman.”
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Drew – a redshirt junior safety – started off full 11-on-11 work on Sunday with two breakups, including a leaping tip to bat a ball away from speedy Matthew Rockett, and had an interception on junior quarterback Jared Goff on the first play of full-team drives on Saturday.
“I think Damariay is playing well,” Dykes said. “The thing he’s done is, he’s lost a lot of weight, and it’s helped him move better. He’s always been a physical kid, but I think his weight, he’s able to move better than he had been in the past. It’s good to see him back out here. He wants to make the most out of every practice.”
• Wide receiver Erik Brown, a redshirt freshman, is not in camp with the Bears, who have no shortage of receivers, having brought in Brandon Singleton, Carlos Strickland, Kanawai Noa and Austin Aaron, and already have one of the deepest receiving corps in the nation, according to Goff.
“He’s finishing a class, so we just wanted to make sure he paid full attention to getting his class finished,” Dykes said. “We anticipate him being with us as soon as he finishes up. He’s got to get his academics squared away, so we thought it was important that he was 100-percent focused on academics.”
• Freshman Malik McMorris has been splitting time between the offense and the defense during the first three days of camp. The stout Semper Fidelis All-American has been working with Mark Tommerdahl in the early goings of practice, practicing lead blocking, as well as working with the defensive tackles. McMorris finally got on the field during 11-on-11s, working in the BONE formation inside the red zone.
• Aaron Cochran got some reps at left tackle with the first team on Sunday, giving Steven Moore a chance to rest.