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Monday, March 29, 2010
Bigger shoes than you think: California

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Third in a series looking at lineup holes that are important even if they don't make headlines.

California

Everybody is talking about: Two things have Bears fans talking: 1. Will Kevin Riley be challenged for the starting quarterback job (probably not); 2. What will the defense look like under Clancy Pendergast (the three-man pass rush may be dead).

Bigger shoes than you think: Defensive end Tyson Alualu

Alualu is hardly anonymous. He started 39 games for the Bears, recording 17 sacks in the process, and earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2009 after being tapped second team the year before. He figures to be picked before round three of the NFL draft ends. Still, it always seemed like he operated under the radar. While replacing cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson is more urgent considering how poorly the Bears' secondary played in 2009, the void left by Alualu -- his production and quiet leadership -- will be difficult to fill in 2010.

Who's stepping in: Last year's depth chart says it will be junior Trevor Guyton, who had four tackles for a loss as Alualu's backup. Junior Ernest Owusu has the physical skills for a potential breakthrough. But it's also possible that Pendergast is going to shuffle some players and look at myriad options -- is it a 3-4 front, or a hybrid 3-4 or a 4-3 dressed up as a 3-4, etc. Is this DE position going to be a glorified tackle or a pass-rushing end? Cal beat writer Jonathan Okanes opined that redshirt freshman DeAndre Coleman, "a 6-foot-6, 309-pound man with the athletic ability to play outside" might be a possibility.