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Spring Primer - Part V - The Defensive Line

February 24, 2019
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Spring Practice  Schedule

Spring Roster

Previews:  Offensive Line /  WRs and TEs / Running Backs

The Defensive Line

Returning Starters:

Luc Bequette - 6’2, 300 - RS Senior

Tevin Paul - 6’5, 270 - RS Junior

Others with Playing Experience:

Zeandae Johnson - 6’4, 275 - Senior

Aaron Maldonado - 6’3, 290 - Sophomore (NG) (Out for the Spring)

Siu Fuimaono - 6’4, 305 - RS Sophomore (NG)

Lone Toailoa - 6’2, 280 - Senior

Chinedu Udeogu - 6’4, 265 -RS Junior

Newcomers/Yet to Contribute:

Gabe Cherry - 6’4, 285 - RS Sophomore

Braxten Croteau - 6’5, 245 - Freshman

Notes:   This group will rival the Secondary as being the deepest and most experienced unit on the 2019 Cal team.  The three-man line has seven players who have meaningful playing experience and five of whom are in their fourth/fifth year of college football. It starts with Luc Bequette who played at a very high level throughout 2018 (HM All Pac 12 Selection) and is versatile enough to play both outside and inside.  The line’s best run stopper and a strong interior pass rusher, Bequette will compete for all-league honors in 2019.   Tevin Paul came into his own the back half of 2018 and has established himself as the Bears best edge pass rusher.  Look for him to work this Spring on taking that next step with his pass-rushing technique and building on his run stopping chops.  Zeandae Johnson enters Spring having lost 25 pounds since December.  The lines most athletic and powerful athlete needs to take a big step forward after a disappointing 2018.   Now eighteen months removed from his knee injury, ZJ has to play with more bend and leverage.  Aaron Maldonado flashed superb first step quickness and natural pass rushing skills as a true freshman.  Look for him to build more strength and become a more adept run stopper this Spring.  He and Siu Fuimaono are the only listed Nose Guards on the roster.  Siu’s got that thick and powerful lower body the coaches want inside on running downs and this Spring will be an opportunity for him to take a big step forward.  Lone will be tasked with taking the big second-year jump that most JC transfers make.   He’s explosive and quick and needs a refined technique to be a strong contributor.   Chinedu is hoping to be a more consistent pass rusher.   

Key Questions going into Spring:

Who will fill the run stopping role that Chris Palmer occupied in 2018?   The short answer is that Siu, Maldonado, and Bequette will all get snaps this Spring to see who can be a consistent plugger.  Look for Fuimaono to continue to add weight, perhaps with a target of entering Fall Camp at 325lbs.  The defensive coaches will watch the NG position closely as they may look to adept schematically to a more penetrating up the field approach (a la WSU the past few seasons) in order to take advantage of the line’s smaller, quicker players.

Will we see a more effective pass rush when the Bears got to a four-man line?     This Spring represents an opportunity for the DEs to become more consistent 1:1 pass rushers off the edge.  Paul looks poised to break out, a lighter ZJ has the speed and long arms to be difficult to block and the interior quickness of Toailoa, Maldonado, and Bequette could make the down line pass rush one of the strengths of the defense in 2019.

Might Gabe Cherry be ready to break out this Spring?   Gabe Cherry’s got a physique out of Muscle and Fitness magazine and he plays with a high motor.   The third year is generally the one you see defensive lineman have the light go on in terms of technique and leverage and that’s certainly the hope with Cherry.   If not, he’s at risk of being passed over as younger, talented players enter the program.  

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Spring Primer - Part V - The Defensive Line

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