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Cal football depth chart: Defense & special teams projections

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Who do we have up on defense?

Cal football team photo
Cal football team photo
Dan Kwon

Yesterday we took a look at what things might look like on the offensive end for Cal when the depth chart is releasedl. Today it’s a turn for the defense and special teams and the things we might expect there.

Defensive line

Weakside defensive end: Brennan Scarlett
Strongside defensive end: Todd Barr
Nose tackle: Mustafa Jalil
Defensive tackle: Austin Clark

DE 2s: Puka Lopa, Kyle Kragen
DT 2s: Marcus Manley, Harrison Wilfley

Congratulations to Barr for finding his way onto the two-deep, but it just seems to underscore how vulnerable the Bears might be at that position. They really can’t afford more than injury or two before you see them really in a pickle.

Linebackers
Will: Ray Davison
Mike: Michael Barton
Sam: Jalen Jefferson

Will #2: Devante Downs
Mike #2: Hardy Nickerson (Note: Whenever he’s fully healthy, he will move back into the starting lineup)
Sam #2: Edward Tandy

Cal is so deficient in linebackers already that I can’t imagine they can afford to play their base defense all that much. They will probably favor the nickel/dime formations over the 4-3 in most instances and will go to it against spread teams. So we’re probably going to be severely disadvantaged against the USCs and the Furds of the world.

Secondary
Cornerback: Cedric Dozier
Cornerback: Darius Allensworth
Cornerback: Cameron Walker
Strong safety: Michael Lowe
Free safety: Stefan McClure

Cornerback 2s: Caleb Coleman, Trey Cheek, Darius White
Safety 2s: Avery Sebastian, Griffin Piatt

I list three cornerbacks because I expect we’ll be playing out of a base nickel for most of the season. We have limited personnel to run the 4-3 for most of the year, so we might as well examine who our best three corners are.

I’d say that Walker and Dozier are the most experienced of the bunch and are definitely in the mix, and Allensworth probably has the best pure talent out of all of them. That should be our starting 3 in some order.  After that comes the inexperience in two redshirt frosh in Coleman and Cheek, who will hopefully not be pressed early into service. The jury is still out on the ailing White.

McClure and Lowe seem to have locked up the safety spots. Sebastian still has yet to show that he’s ready for contact of any sort, and Piatt has been a pleasant surprise this offseason.

Placekickers
1: James Langford
2: Matt Anderson
3: Noah Beito

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is split by committee and one of Langford and Anderson handle kickoffs while the other handle field goals/extra points, or something of that sort. I think Langford has the slight edge and had a bit of a better camp, but I expect Anderson might have a role in here somewhere.

Punters
1: Cole Leninger
2: Noah Beito

Probably the most secure position on the team….

Snappers
1: John Sheperdson
2: Bradley Northnagel

Although Sheperdson is a close second here.

Punt returners
1: Bryce Treggs
2: Trevor Davis

Treggs didn’t fumble many punts last season as far as I remember, and the punt coverage for his returns was atrocious. He should have a better season if players stay healthy. The wild-card is Davis, who might be a bit more of a burner.

Kick returners

1: Khalfani Muhammad
2: Trevor Davis

Pretty much the same comments I have for Treggs in punt returning. Muhammad should do better here this season and Davis will be a great wild-card to have back there.

Holders

1: Bryce McGovern
2: Jack Austin

Yeah, that’s a sign we have to wrap up here.