Safety Craig Woodson and inside linebacker Blake Antzoulatos, two players expected to make signficant contributions on Cal’s defense this season, will miss the entire 2021 season after suffering lower-body injuries during preseason training camp.
Head coach Justin Wilcox made the announcement about Woodson and Antzoulatos on Tuesday in the video above.
Neither Woodson nor Antzoulatos was projected to be starter this season, but both were expected to get considerable playing time.
Woodson, a redshirt sophomore, played in all four games last season, and he started two of them. His ability to make game-changing plays has been touted by Cal players and coaches the past two years. Last year he had 17 tackles and two pass breakups, and he blocked a unt that led to a Golden Bears’ touchdown in the game against UCLA.
Elijah Hicks and Daniel Scott are projected to be the starting safeties, but Woodson was close behind in the depth chart.
Antzoulatos, also a redshirt sophomore, played in all four games last season, mostly on special teams, but his playing time on defense was expected to increase in 2021. Mo Iosefa and Evan Tattersall will probably be the starting inside linebackers, but Antzoulatos had been pushing for more playing time when he was injured.
Injuries that sidelined other Cal players for Saturday’s scrimmage are still considered minor. That means wide receiver Kekoa Crawford, offensive tackle Will Craig and defensive lineman Ricky Correia are expected to return to practice soon and should be ready for the Sept. 4 opener against Nevada.
The Bears were hoping to avoid injuries during Tuesday afternoon’s practice.
“Today is going to be a real physical day,” Wilcox said midday Tuesday. “We’re going full pads.”
Wilcox is hoping to build on Saturday’s scrimmage, when the Bears showed considerable improvement over the previous week’s scrimmage.
“We made a significant jump from the week prior in every area,” Wilcox said.
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