BERKELEY — Cal's Ernie Owusu figured since there will be less of him and his defensive linemates on the field with the new 3-4 defense this season, he likely will draw more attention from opponents along the offensive line. The way to counteract this development? Simply make it seem like there are still as many defensive linemen out there by gaining more weight.
Owusu, a redshirt freshman, hit the weights hard during the offseason. In fact, he set a school record by squatting 585 pounds. He also registered 435 pounds in the bench press and 352 in the power clean.
"Now that we're doing the 3-4, I figure there are going to be more double teams," Owusu said. "I play the strong side so the tight end will probably come up on me a lot. I was really working hard at it. That's why I was able to make the gains I did."
Cal's starting defensive line seems to be pretty clear with either Mika Kane or Derrick Hill playing nose tackle and Rulon Davis and Tyson Alualu on the ends. But the Bears figure to utilize as many linemen as they can to stay fresh, and Owusu is making a bid to be part of the regular playing rotation. Owusu has spent the first week of camp playing with the second team, along with Hill and Cameron Jordan.
"He's a really awesome kid," Gregory said. "The guy worked unbelievably hard this summer. He threw up all kinds of weight. He's going to be a good player for us."
Owusu played on the scout team this season then followed up with a good spring. He spent his first year in the program practicing in the 4-3 and now is playing the 3-4 in his second year. But he said the transition has been pretty seamless.
"I thought it was going to be a big deal but it actually hasn't been that difficult," Owusu said. "I haven't really been that affected by the switch. I just want to do what it takes to get into the rotation, battle this camp and do something this upcoming season."
Becoming the Best
Nobody ever will question Cal running back Jahvid Best's ability to run to the outside. If he can improve his running between the tackles, the results could get scary.
"I feel like that's the lesser part of my game," Best said. "I have to get that up to my outside running. If I can get it equal, I don't know — I'll be pretty good."
Best was held out of practice Saturday. Cal coach Jeff Tedford said the team is going to rest him periodically through the spring as he continues his recovery from a hip injury.
The Bears had a handful of players banged up during Friday's first day in full pads. Linebacker Zack Follett (groin), defensive tackle Michael Costanzo (concussion), running back Covaugn DeBoski (concussion) and defensive back Charles Amadi (concussion) all sat out Saturday. Defensive back Jesse Brooks suffered a concussion near the end of the evening practice. Kane suffered a sprained ankle walking down the steps to the field before the morning session.
— Jonathan Okanes