Advertisement

 BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -Although California certainly isn't sinking, defensive coordinator Bob Gregory has plenty of holes to plug.
The Golden Bears head into Pac-10 play this week with a No. 6 ranking, a 3-0 record and a wealth of talent on a quickly maturing offense.
They also have serious concerns about their defensive depth after three starters were knocked out of a 42-12 victory over Louisiana Tech with potentially serious injuries.
Defensive linemen Matt Malele and Rulon Davis both hurt their feet against the Bulldogs, with Malele likely tearing tendons and Davis possibly incurring a stress fracture. Zack Follett, the Bears' strong-side linebacker and emotional leader, also developed a neck stinger in the first half and didn't return.
Most Cal fans don't know the names of the players who replaced them against the Bulldogs, but Gregory professes confidence in every player he coaches.
``I liked the way we responded when guys went down, but we won't really know about us until Pac-10 play,'' said Gregory, in his sixth season as Jeff Tedford's right-hand man. ``We'll see where our depth is, and I think guys will step into bigger roles.''
The extent of all three injuries wasn't known Sunday, but any setback is bad news for a defense that's still working to replace the top three players from last season. Cornerback Daymeion Hughes, linebacker Desmond Bishop and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane all went to the NFL, leaving Gregory to rebuild his core.
Cal's line is its greatest concern, since Malele already was the only returning starter from last season. Gregory filled the holes against Louisiana Tech with everyone from fifth-year senior John Allen, who recovered a fumble in the first extensive playing time of his career, to promising freshmen Derrick Hill and Cameron Jordan.
The Bears hope Follett will be back for Saturday's home game against Arizona, but Eddie Young and Michael Mohamed filled in capably against Louisiana Tech.
``It's going to hurt us, but that's why we've got depth,'' said middle linebacker Worrell Williams, who has been solid in Bishop's place this season. ``If they don't come back, we'll have other guys stepping in, ready to play. We've got a lot of guys who have been waiting for that chance.''
Despite its holes, Cal's defense is showing signs of progress after Tennessee moved the ball well in the Bears' opener. Cal had four sacks and 12 tackles for loss against Louisiana Tech while allowing just one play longer than 20 yards.
While lining up each week against the Pac-10's outstanding athletes and inventive offenses, Gregory's defenses usually rely on a knack for killing drives by forcing turnovers.
``We're always talking turnovers - get the ball,'' Williams said. ``We're a big opportunity team. We're going to get to the route before you. We want to stop them, but we'd rather have a turnover than get them to punt it.''
Cal has forced seven turnovers in its first three games, including three by Louisiana Tech, which managed 274 total yards and several sustained drives.
``Big plays have been huge,'' said defensive back Robert Peele, who had an interception on a tipped ball. ``Teams have been driving on us, but we somehow come up with a fumble or an interception. We have the ability to force teams to make mistakes like that. We don't care about yards so much. The only stat we keep is takeaways.''
Louisiana Tech and Tennessee both had success against Cal with a no-huddle offense, though Gregory couldn't understand why the officials wouldn't allow him to substitute at times during the hurry-up drill, and Williams criticized the Bulldogs' quick-snapping technique.
``They're supposed to give us a chance to get lined up, and they were doing something that was borderline (illegal),'' Williams said. ``We still got it done, and that's all that matters. It's all about the scoreboard.''

Recent NCAAF Discussions

2nd half on Mon, Sep 2016 by Timmy1961
added play on Mon, Sep 2016 by Timmy1961
mon night pro play on Mon, Sep 2016 by Timmy1961

NCAAF Headlines

More inNCAAF News  
Advertisement

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail College Football Week 5 Odds Week 5 of the College Football Season features some very big matchups between top-10 teams. Here is a look at...
Thumbnail Arizona tries to contain explosive Washington No. 9 Washington utterly obliterated its first three opponents of the season. Will the good times continue in the desert?
Thumbnail Sun Devils, Bears primed for fireworks show With California and Arizona State set to do battle, should fans on the West Coast expect an offensive blitzkrieg tonight?
Thumbnail Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Prediction Will Arkansas pull off the upset or at least cover the spread when it takes on Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium at 9:00PM ET tonight?
Thumbnail Louisville vs. Marshall Prediction Will Louisville avoid a letdown tonight when the Cardinals visit Marshall at 8:00PM ET?
More inNCAAF Articles  

NCAAF Team Pages

Advertisement