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August 7, 2012

Depth tested on day four

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BERKELEY -- Now four days into the California football team's fall camp, the Bears are in a sticky spot. Summer school finals today claimed starting quarterback Zach Maynard until one hour into practice, as well as starting tailback Isi Sofele and starting defensive end DeAndre Coleman. With Mustafa Jalil and Viliami Moala late to practice due to academic obligations, redshirt freshman Todd Barr played with all three defensive units and was the star of the day on the defensive side of the ball.

Injuries, though, have taken a toll. Defensive tackle Austin Clark (broken foot suffered in a shuttle test this summer), but also defensive back Jeffrey Coprich, Jr. (broken jaw, out for "a couple more weeks," according to head coach Jeff Tedford), and now, inside linebacker Jason Gibson are on the shelf.

The redshirt freshman suffered a lisfranc injury yesterday that Tedford characterized as a broken foot, knocking him out for at least three months. But, as Tedford said after practice, "He's one guy. We've got a lot of linebackers."

On Tuesday, Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt was dressed as Cal embarked on its second shells-only practice of fall camp, though he did not participate as he continues to rehab his surgically-repaired knee. Once healthy, Fortt will almost certainly factor into the depth on the inside.

"He won't do anything physically probably for a couple weeks," Tedford said. "It's really going to be dependent on how he rehabs. It's all about getting the strength. Structurally, he's fine. It's just about getting his strength back now, so it's really dependent on when that happens.

On Tuesday, though, there was no shortage of other backers who stepped up.

Redshirt sophomore David Wilkerson and junior Robert Mullins were a formidable tandem on the inside, with Dan Camporeale and a yellow-jersey-free Brennan Scarlett manning the outside with the first team.

The second-team D saw a linebacker combo of Nick Forbes and Jalen Jefferson on the inside, while Michael Barton and Hardy Nickerson, Jr, taking third-team inside reps.

"It's unfortunate, because we were really looking forward to [Gibson] competing," Tedford said. "He had a good summer and we were really looking forward to him competing."

Gibson won't require surgery, as of today. Tedford said that Gibson has two or three fractures and a separation, so the swelling has to go down until the severity of the lisfranc injury can be determined.

With Coleman out for the day, two other projected contributors -- Jalil and Moala -- late to practice because of class, redshirt freshman Barr took turns with all three defensive units at right defensive end, and was highly disruptive with his speed and strength.

"Todd's doing great," Tedford said. "He's flashing a lot, making plays. He's very quick. He's having a good camp, so far. Again, we don't have pads on, so you can't cut anybody yet, so it'll be more like real football tomorrow."

Barr was tickled pink to be on the line with his recruiting classmates, and with getting to run with the ones for most of the day. One of those classmates -- Moala -- is noticeably trimmer than he was last year - as trim as the big-boned nose guard can be. Moala came into camp last year at close to 370 pounds, and is now checking in at a svelte 335.

"He's lost some weight," Tedford smiled. "It's a good thing. I think just naturally, through the work, he got down."

During team 11-on-11, both Tipoti and Barr routinely got good penetration, and Jalil was particularly disruptive, as he has been throughout the first four days of camp.

In 11-on-11 work, the first-team defensive line consisted of Aaron Tipoti at left end, Kendrick Payne at nose and Barr at right end. The top two safeties were - unsurprisingly -- Josh Hill at free and Alex Logan at strong. Outside linebackers were a rotating trio of Chris McCain, Camporeale and Lucas King. The top corners were Steve Williams and Marc Anthony, with little rotation. King

The second-team defense consisted of Tyre Ellison and Avery Sebastian at strong and free safety, respectively, with Michael Lowe rotating in. Moala, Puka Lopa and Jalil were the second-team defensive line. Second-team corners were Kameron Jackson and Isaac Lapite.

The third-team defensive featured Jalil and Lopa at the ends with Gabe King in the middle, with Barr coming in on four-man fronts. Ted Agu, Barton, Nickerson and Antoine Davis formed the third linebacking corps, with Lapite and Joel Willis at corner and a trio of Damariay Drew, Matt Mayes and Jordan Morgan rotating through the two safety spots.

During one-on-one work, both Willis and Lowe came up with big break-ups against freshmen Darius Powe and Kenny Lawler.

Willis impressed in press coverage against the physical Cedric Dozier, who showed a willingness to engage but the discipline to know when to release.

Stay tuned for more from Day Four, including videos, a photo gallery and a breakdown of the offense.

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