SCRIMMAGE: Lowe Paces Defense

SCRIMMAGE: Lowe Paces Defense

Michael Lowe stepped up and led the defense on Saturday, and Avery Sebastian may be making a return much sooner than expected in today's defensive recap.

BERKELEY -- In last Monday's scrimmage, the defense dictated the flow of the game, as the offense struggled to put together consistent drives and stop the defensive line from getting into the backfield.

Since then (save for a few struggles on the right side of the offensive line), the offense has set the tone with quick and efficient passing, as well as powerful and shifty running. That culminated with the offensive explosion otherwise known as Saturday's scrimmage.

The offense put up video-game numbers, but head coach Sonny Dykes said the defense was without some significant contributors, especially in the secondary.

"We didn't have a lot DBs today," Dykes said. "We held Kam Jackson out. Obviously, Avery [Sebastian] was held out. We didn't play Stefan McClure a lot. So we were missing half of our secondary today."

The safeties actually had a relatively strong day, as Michael Lowe led the entire defense in tackles with five (including a monster one on Brendan Bigelow), while Damariay Drew filled in admirably for Sebastian, intercepting a Jared Goff pass for what would have been a pick-six if the play hadn't been blown dead.

The main issue today was the play of the cornerbacks. With Jackson out, Cedric Dozier and Cameron Walker were the main culprits, repeatedly getting picked on by both Goff and Zach Kline for long completions and touchdown passes. Even McClure had a rough day by his standards, giving up a 15-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Lawler.

"We had a lot of young guys out there," Dykes said. "We knew that was going to create some favorable matchups for the offense at wide receiver. But it was a good test for them [the DBs]."

But while depth is a concern in the secondary, Dykes doesn't have to worry about the same kind of drop-off in terms of talent and experience on the defensive line. The front four is pretty well-established, with Chris McCain, Deandre Coleman, Mustafa Jalil and Brennan Scarlett, once he gets healthy. But players like Kyle Kragen, Puka Lopa, Dan Camporeale and Viliami Moala are all going to see more than there fair share of playing time. Kragen in particular, had another standout day, twice stopping Darren Ervin for no gain, and tackling Kyle Boehm in the backfield for a loss of five out of the wildcat formation.

"The good thing is we feel like we have five or six guys who can come in and out of games to keep them [the starters] fresh," Dykes said. "These guys can be productive."

One guy who is already being productive is linebacker Johnny Ragin III. The true freshman continues to make plays whenever he is on the field. He had a nice tackle on Jeffrey Coprich in the backfield on third down, forcing the Bears to settle for a field goal attempt.

Overall, though, it was a rough day for the defense. They only produced three tackles for loss, and allowed the quarterbacks to go a combined 30-for-42 for 288 yards and three touchdowns, with only one interception.

NOTEBOOK
Dykes said Scarlett is going back to the doctor next week, and it is likely that the junior will be ready to go by August 31st.

Dykes also said that Sione Sina, who had a setback recovering from a knee injury, has a doctor's appointment next week.

Linebacker Nathan Broussard suffered a knee injury at the end of the scrimmage, but the severity of the injury is still to be determined.

Still no word on the diagnosis for Sebastian, but Dykes thinks he could return as early as next week.

Dykes said that linebackers Nick Forbes and Khairi Fortt will be back on the field getting ‘game-ready' this upcoming week.

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