Update [2007-8-30 18:20:9 by Joel]: Now with Kevin and I on the same page!
Feed readers: click through for the animated gizmo-bob.
A monstrous tip of the hat to Kevin of The Band is Out on the Field for ranking Cal's players and sending additional commentary. Without that, this would have been pure (as opposed to, say, 90%!) guess work:
- DE 94 Rulon Davis (6-5, 275, J r.)*
Cal's defensive line doesn't have much experience outside of Matt Malele. But Davis played extremely well in both of the Bears fall scrimmages. And he probably is the only player in D-1A who served in Fallujah. Plus he survived a near fatal motorcycle accident. He is like 27 years old. So, he probably isn't too intimated by his first start.
- DT 69 Matt Malele (6-1 , 312, Sr.)*
Malele is huge and an intimidating run-stopper. But he is replacing one of the best tackles in college football last year, Brandon Mebane. And considering the amount of playing time Malele had last year, his stats kinda stunk. In starting 13 games, somehow he only made 11 tackles.
- DT 98 Mika Kane (6-3, 305, Jr.)
Really has never played much - 10 games total, but he has recorded only four tackles.
- DE 44 Tyson Alualu (6-4, 288, So.)
Played in all 13 games as a true freshman but didn't record a TFL. He will be facing much more pressure to succeed this year.
- SL B 56 Zac k Follett (6-2, 2 32, Jr.)
Follett was exceptional in the second half of last season. It was thought he would move to the middle, but they have kept him on the outside. Good last year, being asked to do the same this year = high confidence.
- MLB 1 Worrell Williams (6-2, 2 43, Jr.)*
Younger brother of former Miami LB D.J. Williams, Worrell is being asked to replace the team's defensive leader, Desmond Bishop, in the middle. Previously known mainly as being a hard-hitter, Williams is a somewhat surprising starter at MLB.
- WLB 15 A nthony Felder (6-4, 2 31, Jr.)
Felder saw his playing time fall slightly after being a freshman All-American, along with Follett, in 2005. Overall, the linebackers are an incredibly unrated unit for the Bears. By the end of the year, they will be considered among the nation's best.
- CB 5 Syd'Quan Thompson (5-11, 181, So.)*
Improved dramatically after the Tennessee game last year (I guess there was no where to go but up.) My confidence in him is a bit low not because of fear of the Tennessee receivers but because he's being asked to fill the shut-down corner role previously held by Daymeion Hughes.
- FS 4 Thomas DeCoud (6-3, 204, Sr.)*
DeCoud has had a career filled with minor injuries, but should be a standout in his first-year as a defensive leader. He's physically gifted enough at 6-foot-3 that he played in the No. 2 corner spot last year against USC, and pretty well blanketed DeWayne Jarrett in one-on -one situations. He's also blocked six kicks in his career.
- ROV 2 Bernard Hicks (6-1, 202, Jr.)*
Became a starter about halfway through last season.
- CB 3 Brandon Hampton (5-10, 19 3, Sr.)*
Hampton switches over from Rover. A solid player with lots of experience. He might not be spectacular, but he isn't a true freshman wearing a cast on his wrist either. Overall, the defensive backs probably get more crap than they deserve. The question isn't about the individual talent, but how they work as a unit.
Notice that I took some liberties with Kevin's rankings in that I broke ties based on his comments so that the players were ranked 1-11.
Also, notice that green is good for the Vols on both sides of the ball. The top four players for Tennessee are green and the top four players for Cal are red.
[Even after the ranking debacle, the] . . . best opportunities for Tennessee appear to be over toward the left side of the offensive line, so I'd expect numerous Arian Foster runs and short passes to TE Chris Brown on that side, with WR Lucas Taylor taking his guy deep or at least getting him out of the way.
What else do you think the thingamajig shows?
Cal offense against the Tennessee defense coming up tomorrow.