Friday, January 05, 2007

AN EARLY DEPTH CHART - LINEBACKERS

WLB: Worrell Williams (Junior)/Shea McIntyre (Sophomore)
Others: Kyle Kirst (Sophomore)
Outlook: Williams is a very good athlete who is becoming a good linebacker. He doesn't seem to get much love from Cal fans, but there's a reason he started over Follett this year - he's got a rare combination of size and speed which is perfect on the weak side. He does need much better discipline in attacking the run. McIntyre was unheralded out of Skyline HS, but will probably be called on to play back up. We're thin here - would be a good spot for a HS recruit. Kirst is an undersized walk-on and special teams contributor who will probably stay in that role. Eddie Young could be a possibility if he doesn't play WDE.

MLB: Zack Follett (Junior)/Greg Van Hoesen (Senior)
Others: Matt Russi (Sophomore)
Outlook: Zack Follett was born to play middle linebacker. We love Desmond Bishop, but we believe this switch might be a push, because Follett is better than Bishop at shedding blocks, and doesn't take himself out of as many plays. He doesn't possess Bishop's lateral speed, though, which will put some added pressure on the two outside guys. Van Hoesen is a capable backup; Russi is a bowling ball who contributes on special teams.

SLB: Anthony Felder (Junior)/Justin Moye (Senior)
Others: D.J. Holt (Freshman)
Outlook: Felder was nursing some injuries this year, which helps explain the huge drop-off from a freshman All-America season in 2005. His return to form could make this unit special in '07. Moye is a fine backup - limited athletically but plays with sound technique and a good motor. Had a very nice 2nd half in the Holiday Bowl when Gregory moved him to a stand-up role on the line. Holt played DE in high school and will need to learn cover skills. Doubt he will blueshirt.

Summary: This is a slightly less athletic group than the '06 unit - Bishop is quicker than Follett, and while Felder is a terrific athlete he's not a freak of nature like Pimentel. It's worth noting that all three guys will be playing their third season of varsity football. We don't have the data to back this up, but it seems that the sophomore-to-junior jump is often a big one in terms of performance. Williams and Felder aren't limited by their athletic skills - they need to make better decisions on the field and an extra year should help in this respect.

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