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Cal fall practice Thursday report: Tim DeRuyter brings defensive updates

A defensive look today.

Tim DeRuyter
Cal Football

Thursday’s California Golden Bears fall practice was closed, but for those of you defensive geeks, we have some potential ideas about what our defense will look like this season with regards to both personnel and scheme.

Here’s Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. Here are some of the bullet points from his press conference interview.

  • Linebacker Gerran Brown transferred from Washington in the offseason and might find his way onto the depth chart.
  • Tony Mekari has done a good job as the nose guard in the 3-4,and has proven he can play with good pad level and a motor.
  • James Looney continue to draws raves for his versatility. He can play nose guard or defensive end, and even flex out to outside linebacker at 285 pounds. He has the ability to go inside, outside, play in big packages, and guard tight ends.
  • DeRuyter thinks his big defensive ends have the ability to play nose guard or defensive end. Cal defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro has been doing plenty of rotations with his big linemen. They have been seeing snaps at the nose or at defensive end. Expect unpredictable rotations.
  • Cal defensive back coach Gerald Alexander has proven to be an impeccable tweeter and his energy and activity have translated into his coaching. The players have picked up on it and have loved the effort he’s put in.
  • The Cal secondary currently has a ton of competition for spots. Darius Allensworth is expected to keep his spot, but who else will join him on the starting back four?
  • Cameron Saffle has gotten more fluid as a playmaker. He’s more flexible, sinks his hips, changes directions. Not only can he rush the passer and disrupt the run, but he can also be physical with wide receivers too.
  • More defensive techniques could mean more defensive looks. Expect more dropbacks for Saffle this season and all the outside linebackers. It appears that dropbacks were not a high priority for potential pass rushers in the previous regime.
  • Allensworth will likely be the starting corner, but even freshmen like Elijah Hicks and Cameron Bynum are making noise early. Keep an eye out for plenty of new defensive faces.
  • Luc Bequette has the ability to flex between multiple positions on the defensive line.

Meet Cal linebackers Devante Downs and Ray Davison in this Cal Athletics feature.