Like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, we've got a double feature this week. With that double feature, we've got a defensive end commitment in Rusty Becker. Becker seems to have taken a watered-down version of the Captain America serum, as he grew from 6'2" and 195 lbs to 6'4" and 256 lbs between the end of high school and now. Over the course of 14 months, that signals a dedication to getting better, along with some extra genetic boosts that hadn't kicked in yet. Becker played at Minnesota State Community and Technical College this past year, getting 5.5 sacks in 8 games and forcing 2 fumbles. Not exactly eye-popping numbers, but they point to a player who has taken the time to commit himself to a goal. Mentally, that's the type of player that coaches want on their team. From there on, it's up to the player to commit himself to maximizing their physical ability
- First play is a straight-up bull rush against a left tackle. While Becker isn't the first man to the quarterback, his technique is solid in staying low to negate the pass-blocking technique of the LT. Becker's hustle to the end of the play gives him a fumble recovery and a TD for his efforts. He doesn't look too shabby running in the open field either.
- At :27, the opposing team runs a zone read, and they hand off to the RB. In the zone read, the RB gets the ball when the DE slants inward. Becker does initially, but he doesn't get too drawn in by the QB. He stays in his outside contain and stops the RB in the backfield. The zone read is the base play for a number of offenses in the Pac-12, most importantly Oregon's. Having players that are disciplined in their reads from the start helps in combating the explosive nature of an Oregon offense. Becker also causes a fumble on the play, which is pretty sweet. At 1:16, there's another zone read that he doesn't bite on, this time containing the QB and making the tackle for no gain. The fundamental play is excellent.
- At :37 and 1:40, Becker channels his inner JJ Watt and bats down a pass. I like defensive ends that have the awareness to put their hands up when a pass goes out. There's a lot of guys who don't do that, because offensive linemen have been taught to get a free shot at the ribs when that happens. Still, a tall DE getting his hands up closes down some passing lanes, which can lead to interceptions.
- At 1:46, Becker has to fight through a block to catch a running back off a swing route. He stays on the outside shoulder of the lineman, forcing him out until he can rip through and make the tackle. This sounds a bit like a broken record, but this is an absolutely fundamental play against this kind of swing. Him staying on the lineman's shoulder while stringing the back to the outside (where his help is) is exactly what the DE is supposed to do.
- I can see why there's some questions about Becker though. There aren't any athletic moments that jump out from the film in the same way that other members of this class have. What I like about him, and what I think the Cal staff likes about him, is how fundamentally he plays and how knowledgeable he is about the game. He seems to have enough awareness and reactive ability to translate what he's seeing into action. I like that he plays low off the snap, tries to bat down passes, and puts himself in the right place at the right time on zone reads. The coaching staff apparently offered him after he came to one of their camps, so they must have seen something there.
- Anyhow, the less heralded have often made their impact at Cal, with lesser recruits such as Justin Forsett, Alex Mack, and Mike Mohamed striking it big in the pros. Becker has the technique to be good, we'll just have to see how he fares at the Division 1 level.