Follett Focused on Terps

LB Zack Follett

California LB Zack Follett was recently named the Lott Trophy IMPACT player of the week. But his focus is on the Maryland Terrapins and their standout running back Da'Rel Scott. The 12 p.m. ET kickoff on ESPN sets the stage for a game many will watch, something Follett looks forward to…

Zack Follett is one of the catalysts in California's revamped 3-4 defense. The athletic linebacker has recorded 11 tackles thus far in the in season and leads the Bears with 3.5 tackles for loss. Moreover, those stats does not include his 65-yard blocked kick return for a touchdown.

"I was dead tired," Follett said of returning the kick for 65 yards. "As far as running, I just didn't want to get caught by the kicker."

This week Follett is focused on catching Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott.

"I watched the first couple plays [on film], he's a great back," Follett said of Scott. "He has the quickness to make you miss, the power to run you over. Once he gets into that open field, he can be gone. I think he might be the best one we've faced, talent wise."

Scott, a sophomore, has amassed 320 yards rushing through two games. He is arguably the best back Cal will see this season. The Bears put the clamps on Michigan State All-American hopeful Javon Ringer in the season opener. Cal held Ringer under 100 yards. Follett expects the defense to handle Scott as well, but says he brings more to the table than Ringer does.

"He will hit the hole fast and be gone in an instant," Follett said of Scott. "Taking care of our gaps will be important against [Scott]."

Cal's success against the run this year has to be attributed to the switch to the 3-4 defense. Follett believes the Bears' athleticism and strong front three make them tough to attack.

"I think we have the athletes to fit the [3-4] scheme real well," said Follett. "Also, it's a big question mark to offenses, on what we can do out of it. So, it really puts them in an awkward position and allows them to make unforced errors. And we're there to capitalize on it."

"That is the biggest key to this defense," Follett said of the Bears' front three. "If you don't have a front three that can get the job done, then teams can run the ball all over us."

However, Cal has not established a strong pass rush. Despite Follett, only true freshman Mychal Kendricks has recorded a sack this season. Moreover, Kendricks' sack came late in the 66-3 blowout over Washington State. Follett's sack also came against Cougars.

"I think we need to sure up a few more things on the pass," Follett said. "The d-line has been working on their pass rushing skills. Once they feel a little more comfortable on what they are doing…they'll start getting to the quarterback."

Follett says the competition in practice among the defensive linemen is intense. Nonetheless, the focus is to force Maryland to beat the Bears with the pass.

"Stop their run and put pressure on their (QBs) shoulders," Follett said of the scheme for the Terps.

If the Bears' defense succeeds, there will be plenty of eyes watching. The game is an early start for Cal – 9 a.m. local time – but it presents a great opportunity to highlight the program to a wider audience.

"I definitely get excited whenever we can get on ESPN," Follett said. "A lot of teams, people, we'll be watching this game to see how we fare against an East Coast team. California, as a whole, I think it will be big thing, East Coast, West Coast game for some pride."


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