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2003 PREVIEW: California defense breakdown
Basically ... Uh oh. The defense improved last year allowing around 14 points less than 2001, but it still wasn't all that great. Now there's almost no returning experience, no depth and little developed talent. The secondary will have the most problems, but the front seven is also going to need time.
of the defense: Junior DT
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman CB Tim Mixon
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore Rover Donnie McCleskey
Best pro prospect:
- Defensive end
- Defensive tackle
- Nose tackle
- Defensive end Monte Parson, Sr. - Parson hasn't done much in his Cal career, but now he's the starter at one of the ends. He has a little bit of experience and a good first step.
- DE L.P. Ladouceur, Jr. - The 265-pound junior has been a career backup, and now he'll have to play a huge role as the top backup at both end positions.
The Skinny: The line was one of the strengths of the 2002 team, but now it'll have to count on several young backups. The top-notch recruits are still at least a year away from contributing, so there can't be too many injuries. There's a huge drop-off in talent on the ends from last year. The tackles should be strong.
Defensive Line Rating:
- Ryan Estes, Soph. - Estes is speedy player with good all-around ability, but he has yet to really show what he can do after missing last year with an Achilles tendon problem. He's expected to own one of the starting spots on the outside.
- Joe Maningo, Jr. - The JUCO All-American is a guided missile with speed and a tremendous nose for the ball. He'll push for time on the outside.
The Skinny: There's no appreciative experience anywhere in the group. Hunter and Maningo are talented, and Tremblay and Estes has positional, but there's little to no depth. The corps might turn out to be good, but the Bears are going to sorely miss
- Free safety
- Rover Donnie McCleskey, Soph. - McCleskey is the rising star on the defense coming off a 45 tackles season. He isn't big, but he's tremendous tackler in the open-field and has the speed to handle most receivers. Now that he knows what he's doing, he should be one of the better defensive backs in the Pac 10.
- Cornerback Tim Mixon, RFr. - The 5-8 Mixon has worked his way up the depth chart to become a starter. He has tremendous speed and good athletic ability. Now he has to prove he can be as productive as
- Free safety Matt Giordano, Jr. - Giordano is a top JUCO recruit coming from Fresno City College. He made 62 tackles and recovered four fumbles as one of the nation's best JUCO defensive backs.
The Skinny: The
Secondary Rating: 3.5
The Skinny: Fredrickson will be solid with JUCO transfer Lucas Everett pushing for the punting job. Cornerback
Special Teams Rating: