TEXAS A&M UNIT ANALYSIS - LINEBACKERSTeams can only run the 4-2-5 effectively if the "2" in the middle play well against the run. A&M's linebackers do just that, and Cal's OL and new FB will need an improved effort to control this unit. This battle is one of the keys to the game - if Cal run blocks like it did against Oregon (as opposed to USC or Stanford), then the Bears can force A&M to add a 3rd backer or commit the rover to run support.
Justin Warren (6'3"/242/Senior) is a very physical linebacker who may be the key to the entire game. With Storer out, sophomore FB Will Ta'ufo'ou will often need to block #10, which will be a tall order. Warren has started 37 games for the Aggies and has 275 career tackles; he was named a few All-Big XII teams after the season.
Mark Dodge (6'2"/222) starts at the weak-side spot; he's a 25-year old junior who served four years in the Army before entering junior college in 2004. He was at the Pentagon on 9/11 when Flight 77 crashed. On the field he was twice named Big XII defensive player of the week - once for a 17-tackle performance against Nebraska, and again for making a key interception in A&M's win over Texas. He is the Aggies' best linebacker in pass cover.
Misi Tupe, a talented Juco transfer will also rotate in at WLB; he's a 5'10"/250 bowling ball with surprising quickness for his size. When A&M brings in a third linebacker in run situations, it's often Tupe who gets the call.
RS Freshman Matt Featherstone adds depth off the bench; he had 23 tackles in relief of Warren. Senior Nurahda Manning (6'3"/247) will also see time in the rotation.