Cal defensive coordinator Art Kaufman gives a progress report for the Bears defense

BERKELEY -- Who needs to step their game up over the final nine spring practices? Who's made the biggest impact on defense in the first six? Art Kaufman discusses.

California Golden Bears Defensive Coordinator Art Kaufman

"Day six of spring ball, and I think the big thing is, we've got guys who have been in the system. Our biggest thing this spring, that we've tried to do, is develop depth. We've got some numbers, we've got our young guys that played for us last year, who got their feet wet, and now it's time to get their technique where they've refined it, and get them to the top of their game, technique-wise. I think the big thing is to develop the depth -- who's going to be where? -- and we want each one guy to look at his job, and ask, 'Where can I get better?'"

You coached linebackers a bit last year, with Garret Chachere, but you've done it longer than most of these players have been alive. Getting back to coaching them most of the time, how has that worked out? 

"I like it. I'm involved. I've been around them, been in the meeting room some, but now I'm in there, the whole time, and the big thing for me is to have enough communication with them. Garret did a wonderful job, made that transition, and now, I'm able to come back with them, and I'm good with it, because I've done it for such a long time."'s a smaller group. Is that tougher, given the fact that you're going to have to adjust, having lost Michael Barton to transfer, and Jake Kearney to injury retirement, with Devante Downs limited and Hamilton Anoa'i on the shelf? Or, does the fact that you've played in nickel situations, with two linebackers, for much of last year, mitigate that?

"The big thing for us, right now, is that we've got to develop some depth. We have a smaller group, but the one thing that that allows is, it allows us to work on those guys, and they get more reps. That doesn't mean a lot of high-volume reps. A lot of it's low-tempo, teaching stuff, where we're taking our time."

What's the biggest thing you want to get accomplished with these linebackers -- Aisea Tongilava, Downs, Hardy NickersonDerron BrownA.J. Greathouse and Ray Davison?

"The big thing I talk to them about, we've got to be good at playing blocks. You've got to know what you're doing, but the biggest thing I'm trying to work right now is technique, and execution of technique, more than anything else that we can get better at -- defending ourselves from the block, taking good angles, that type of thing."

Losing guys like Darius White and Stefan McClure, those guys have been big for you the last few years. Who's made jumps, and has shown up well over the first six practices?

"The biggest guy that I think, Ray Davison's had a good spring up to this point. Derron Brown has been somewhat of a surprise. I'm glad he's done what he's done. He's done what I'd hoped he would do. He's done a good job with that. I think [Evan] Rambo has come along. For a guy who played some nickel and dime through the year and didn't get a lot of safety reps, he's done a good job transitioning back. Luc Bequette I think's got a chance to come on and play a big part for us. Noah Westerfield has had a really good spring. In six days, he's a completely different guy from what he was last year. That's just some of the guys, off the top of my head right now."

Sonny Dykes has said you want to be more athletic on the interior of the defensive line. How does a guy like Russell Becker help in that regard?

"The big thing, Rusty Becker came in, and he was 255 pounds or whatever, and he's put on 10 or 12 pounds, but I'm not worried about him getting any bigger. What he does is, he brings an athleticism. The power teams are the power teams, but you've got to be able to keep up with this offensive linemen, and that's where his athleticism is going to be a big help."

What do you want to get accomplished in the second half of spring ball?

"We've got a few players targeted that we're saying, 'These guys have got to jump their game up.' Some of them: Rusty Becker, for instance. He's got his feet wet. He'll get the break, he'll come back in, and I expect him to be a better player the day he comes back than the day he left. We've got a few key guys like him -- Zeandae Johnson -- that have got to up their game and continue to refine their skills."

Trevor Howard is an athletic kid, missed a year because of his knee, and last year recovering from the knee. What have you seen out of him?

"I've seen him come along. We had him about three days and some individual [work] for the bowl practice, and get him out here now, and he's shown some flashes that I really didn't know what he had, but he's shown some nice flashes, and I think he's got a chance to come along for us, too." Top Stories