Avinash Kunnath: I'm not sure how to feel. This unit has a bit of experience, although two of the three returning starters are moving to new positions (Cameron Walker and Stefan McClure are essentially flipped). Of all the units we have on defense, this is the one coming back with the most experience, so I feel a bit more comfortable. On the other hand, last year's back seven was one of the worst performing units in Cal history, so it's a wait-and-see sort of thing.
Michael Lowe: Third year starting. Of that 2010 class, only four players turned out to be above-average contributors for more than a season--Keenan Allen, Chris Adcock, Chris McCain and Lowe. (Tosh Lupoi won a recruiting award of the year for this class, which goes to show you recruiting awards are the equivalent of participation trophies at youth soccer tournaments). Lowe has proven to be as good as his job as anyone could be on the worst pass defense in the country, god knows how many messes he had to clean up when the cornerbacks lost their men or the linebackers dropped their gaps or the defensive ends lost contain. He had his fair share of mishaps, but he endured and he's back. I'm happy for that.
Griffin Piatt: WHITE THUNDER! He even worked as a law intern for personal injury claims this summer! How cool would it be if the walk-on comes out and becomes the TwistNHook of football?
This Tweet from Nam is illustrative.
Vlad Belo: I like this unit. Yeah, the young guys took their lumps last year when they were pressed into service before they were truly ready to play. And Cam Walker took special lumps before he was forced to play out of position. But like Avi said above, I think that the young players will be better for the experience they had last year. We have a talented group of athletes in our secondary and I suspect that we will see quite a bit of improvement in these guys.
Like everyone, I hope that Avery Sebastian and Stefan McClure come back healthy. We will see McClure at safety this season, which I am looking forward to. I have been a McClure fan since day 1 (meaning his first college start on a Thursday night vs USC at AT&T Park) and have sometimes been effusive in my praise of him. I truly believed he would be a great corner for us. Injuries derailed him a bit and now he is moving to safety. It's not a bad thing to have a safety with the cover skills of a corner.
The other two guys I'm especially looking forward to seeing play are Allensworth and Dozier. Allensworth, simply because I've heard so much about him and I'm impressed with the way he has, to borrow a Nuke Laloosh phrase, announced his presence with authority. And with Dozier, I've been intrigued with him; he's a great athlete and I see potential for him to be a very solid corner.
There's no rest for the secondary in the Pac-12. But I think we're better equipped this year to have this unit make some plays and hopefully do their part to get the defense off the field.
Leland Wong: Of all our defensive position groups, I'm feeling best about these guys; I'm not sure if that says more about the DBs or about how questionable our LB and DL groups look. Cameron Walker impressed me enough last year that I'm feeling pretty comfortable with him, especially now that's he has slid back to his original position of corner. I'd be feeling a bit more optimistic about this group if we had Sebastian back at 100%, which would enable us to play a lot more nickel with McClure as the nickelback.
Sam Fielder: Like Leland, this group worries me the least, which means that we're in not so great shape on D. I do think that Kauffman's new scheme and the fact that our younger players are battle tested will mean that they won't be historically bad like last year and will hopefully be of a more "bend don't break" D instead of a "whiff on the first move and give up a 75 yard TD". We're still short on depth here, so obviously any injury is going to be huge and a rash of them like last year would be disastrous, but overall, I think this unit will be improved. Not world beaters or anything, but better.