Takeaway 5: Linebackers
Scrimmage Live Thread (members)
In short, this group is still a concern. California will be playing with two linebackers almost universally in nickel and dime situations, so that mitigates the depth concerns to some degree, but what has, in the past, been a strength of the defense is turning in a fairly quiet camp. Ray Davison has two picks -- one for a touchdown -- and Devante Downs added a sack on Saturday, but beyond those two, there's not a ton of experience.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1682426-countdown-to-kicko...Derron Brown -- perhaps the most promising speed rusher off the edge, who also has the ability to cover thanks to his past as a safety -- was limited on Saturday, so there's certainly a bit of grading on the curve, because the linebackers didn't have arguably their most dynamic weapon. He did have one tackle that we noted.
Davison tallied two stops, and Aisea Tongilava had three, adding a fumble recovery for a 23-yard touchdown. Nevada transfer Kaodi Dike made two stops, and shows a little bit of promise, and freshman Cameron Goode made two tackles, but it's pretty clear that the Bears are going to ride with Downs and Davison quite a bit, and Brown and Tongilava after that.
“I think the big thing is the older two guys who are playing – Devante Downs is way ahead of where he’s ever been," said defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, who also coaches the linebackers. "I think Ray Davison is taking a leadership role, coming along, and then everyone else is kind of in a developmental stage. I’ve got to get them as much work as I can.”
The biggest X-factor for me on Saturday was Jordan Kunaszyk. At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Kunaszyk could play defensive end, but he's so long, and has such great sideline-to-sideline speed that it's abundantly clear he has the tools to be an every-down linebacker. The biggest adjustment for him is going to be the speed of the game. Right now, his brain and his body are a bit disconnected, and he at times relies too much on that natural speed and athleticism, instead of making a read and letting the play develop. That said, he came up with four tackles, including a tackle for loss on Saturday, so his instincts are at least on the right track.
Once he learns the finer points of gap integrity and assignment football, the staff can really let Kunaszyk off the chain, and I think that's going to result in a lot of big hits.
“Doing good. For a guy who’s been here basically 14 days, in the system, the practice, the tempo, everything we do, he’s picked it up, and he’ll only get better," Kaufman said of Kunaszyk." I’m glad we got him.”
Takeaway 2: Robertson and Hansen (members)
Takeaway 3: Defensive Backfield (members)
Takeaway 4: Defensive Line and Pass Rush (members)
More Scrimmage Coverage
- CAL SCRIMMAGE TAKEAWAYS: DEFENSIVE LINE (members)
- CAL SCRIMMAGE TAKEAWAYS: DEFENSIVE BACKS (members)
- CAL FALL SCRIMMAGE TAKEAWAYS: RBS
- CAL FALL SCRIMMAGE TAKEAWAYS: ROBERTSON AND HANSEN (members)
- BTTV: JACOB ANDERSON
- BTTV: CAL'S SONNY DYKES TALKS SCRIMMAGE
- BTTV: CAL DC ART KAUFMAN TALKS SCRIMMAGE
- BTTV: BURNS SAYS NOT GOOD ENOUGH
- SCRIMMAGE: THREE THINGS TO WATCH