Injured Cal climbs to No. 6 in AP football poll

BERKELEY -- Although Cal certainly isn't sinking, defensive coordinator Bob Gregory now has plenty of holes to plug.

The Golden Bears head into Pac-10 play with a No. 6 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll, a 3-0 record and a wealth of talent on a quickly maturing offense. They also have concerns about their defensive depth after three starters were injured during a 42-12 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

Defensive linemen Matt Malele and Rulon Davis hurt their feet, Malele likely tearing tendons and Davis possibly incurring a stress fracture. Strong-side linebacker Zack Follett developed a neck stinger in the first half and didn't return.

The extent of all three injuries wasn't known Sunday, but the game-day prognoses were bad news for a defense that's still working to replace the top three players from last season's solid group.

Cal's line is its greatest concern, since Malele is the only returning starter from last season. Gregory filled the holes against Louisiana Tech with everyone from fifth-year senior John Allen, who recovered a fumble in his first extensive playing time, to promising freshmen Derrick Hill and Cameron Jordan.

The Bears hope Follett will be back for Saturday's home game against Arizona, but Eddie Young and Michael Mohamed filled in capably against Louisiana Tech.

"It's going to hurt us, but that's why we've got depth," said middle linebacker Worrell Williams, who has been solid in Bishop's place this season. "If they don't come back, we'll have other guys stepping in ready to play. We've got a lot of guys who have been waiting for that chance."

Meanwhile, No. 1 USC recouped six first-place votes it lost to No. 2 LSU in the previous two weeks. The Trojans received 46 first-place votes and 1,605 points after a 49-31 win at Nebraska.

LSU earned 19 first-place votes and 1,577 points after recording its second shutout, 44-0 over Middle Tennessee.

Also, No. 16 Alabama moved into the Top 25 for the first time since the final poll of the 2005 season. Alabama rallied to beat Arkansas 41-38.

No. 21 Kentucky is ranked for the first time since the final 1984 poll after beating rival Louisville 40-34 on a late touchdown pass by Andre Woodson.