Football: Does opportunity await Cal’s defense?

Checking in w/you as we’re a little more than 48 hours away from Big Game kickoff …

Obviously a big storyline is whether Cal’s defense can contain Stanford QB Andrew Luck. There’s no doubt Luck will have many NFL scouts watching him Saturday, as he has all season. But Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast wants his defensive players to realize that those same NFL scouts also will be watching them. “When you’re going up against one of the better players, everybody is going to dissect (all) the plays,” Pendergast said. “So whether you’re a lineman, a linebacker or a secondary guy, you’ve got a chance to make an (impression).”

That sounds like good motivational strategy. How effective will it be in stopping the Cardinal, which is averaging 493.7 yards per game this season? We’ll find out. Pendergast said Stanford provides more different looks and more ways to move the ball than most college football teams. “They’re very unique in what they do,” he said. “They use a lot of different personnel groups, they use the whole field. The run game, pass game … they can run tackle to tackle, get on the perimeter, throw down the middle of the field and spread you out and throw it. So it’s a very unique, and I’d say, dynamic offense.”

Cal defensive end Trevor Guyton mentioned earlier this week the importance of putting some heat on Luck. Look for the Bears to bring pressure from lots of different angles. “We’ve got to mix some things up, come after them a little bit, try to win up front,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “But they do a nice job of protecting him. He gets rid of the ball, and sometimes even when you’re there to get him, he breaks out of things and runs. It’s not an easy thing to do to get him on the ground.”

But first and foremost, the Bears can’t let Stanford – which is averaging 215.1 yards on the ground — run the ball at will. Asked how his defense matches up against the Cardinal offensive line, Pendergast replied: “I like our defensive front regardless of who we’re playing.”

–It appears Cal will once again be without starting outside linebackers Chris McCain (concussion) and David Wilkerson (bruised knee). Pendergast indicated he doesn’t expect either to play, meaning Cal will go with Cecil Whiteside, Dan Camporeale and Ryan Davis for those two spots.

–The Bears did have one player at practice Thursday who could help their pass-rushing cause if only he were eligible. Defensive end Cameron Jordan, now playing for the New Orleans Saints, is in town since New Orleans has a bye. Jordan plans to attend Saturday’s game. Wow, talk about a chatty guy. It looks like Jordan is on his way to a long NFL career, but I could see him making a living behind the microphone someday.

–Eric Kiesau, Cal’s passing game coordinator and receivers coach, said the Bears’ play calling has been so run-dominated over the past two games partly because Cal jumped ahead of opponents early, then tried to grind out the clock. Kiesau said the plan going into the Washington State and Oregon State games was to balance the pass and run, but that strategy changed once Cal’s backs started eating up yards in chunks. I don’t doubt that’s the case to a certain degree. But it’s been an aim to boost the confidence of quarterback Zach Maynard, and rolling out a dominant run game is the best way to do that. Kiesau says he’s seen “big strides” from Maynard in practice over the past two weeks. “That’s what we want, just throwing the ball with confidence and accuracy,” Kiesau said.

I thought Maynard did a good job of just throwing the ball away a couple times last week when the pocket collapsed and he had to scramble. But make no mistake, if Maynard is dropping back to pass 30 times on Saturday, Cal is in trouble. An efficient running game is a must …

Joe Stiglich

  • DelthaForce

    We are not going to win this one with the running game. Maynard needs to rise up and make some throws like Riley did in ’09. Or heck, like Tavita Pritchard did against USC in ’07. It doesn’t take a first round draft pick to throw a slant.

  • Rollonubears

    I like the under. I think the d wil step up. Could be like Oregon last year.

  • House

    Love the work your doing so far with the blog Joe, solid info(as much as you can get with such a secretive staff) and great input on each issue. Not putting J.O. down here but he lacked that personal opinion on topics that you have.

    Keep up the good work!

  • eric

    I’ve been critical of Tedford in many ways, including last year’s academic recognition (Cal did not do well on the Pac-10 all-academic team). Well, this year things are clearly much better. From Ted Miller’s espn blog

    California led the conference with seven selections on the first and second teams combined. Utah had six — five on the first team — and Washington and Colorado had five. Arizona State and USC had no members on the first team. Oregon State and Arizona State had the fewest on both teams with two.

    Here’s the list:

    Pos. Name, School Yr. GPA Major
    QB Andrew Luck, Stanford Jr. 3.48 Architectural Design
    RB Malcolm Jones, UCLA So. 3.20 Undeclared
    RB John Tyndall, California Sr. 3.17 Interdisciplinary Studies/Peace & Conflict Studies
    WR Jared Karstetter, Washington State (2) Sr. 3.61 Zoology
    WR Luke Matthews, Utah Jr. 3.66 Mass Communication
    TE David Paulson, Oregon (3) Gr. 3.67 Business
    OL Mark Asper, Oregon Gr. 3.77 Educational Leadership
    OL Mark Brazinski, California So. 3.68 Business Administration and Media Studies
    OL Mitchell Schwartz, California Sr. 3.24 American Studies
    OL Tevita Stevens, Utah Jr. 3.52 Spanish
    OL Carson York, Oregon (3) Jr. 3.75 Journalism and Communications

    DL Kevin Frahm, Oregon State (3) Sr. 3.30 Political Science
    DL Ernest Owusu, California Sr. 3.31 Political Economy
    DL Will Pericak, Colorado Jr. 3.43 Business-Finance
    DL Derrick Shelby, Utah Sr. 3.25 Sociology
    LB Brent Etiz, Stanford So. 3.52 Economics
    LB Paul Vassallo, Arizona Sr. 3.48 Pre-Public Health
    LB J.J. Williams, Utah Sr. 3.42 Economics
    DB Cameron Collins, Oregon State (4) Sr. 3.48 Business-Finance
    DB Kyle McCartney, Washington State (2) RS Jr. 3.80 Entrepreneurship
    DB Travis Sandersfeld, Colorado RS Sr. 3.38 Business-Finance
    DB Greg Walker, Washington Jr. 3.41 Biology

    PK John Bonano, Arizona (2) Sr. 3.90 Physiology
    P Sean Sellwood, Utah Jr. 3.78 Exercise and Sport Science
    ST Brendan Lopez, Washington Sr. 3.64 Neurobiology

    (2) Two-time first-team All-Academic selection
    (3) Three-time first-team All-Academic selection
    (4) Four-time first-team All-Academic selection

    Pos. Name, School Yr. GPA Major
    QB Matt Barkley, USC Jr. 3.22 Communication
    RB Anthony Barr, UCLA So. 3.14 Undeclared
    RB Will Kapp, California Sr. 3.03 American Studies
    WR Justin Hoffman, Oregon Jr. 3.61 Geology/Psychology
    WR Aaron Pflugrad, Arizona State Gr. 3.40 Liberal Studies
    TE Andrei Lintz, Washington State RS Jr. 3.73 Sport Management
    OL David DeCastro, Stanford Jr. 3.10 Management, Science and Engineering
    OL Khaled Holmes, USC Jr. 3.22 Communication Management
    OL Carter Lees, Arizona RS Fr. 3.42 Pre-Retailing and Consumer Science
    OL Drew Schaefer, Washington Jr. 3.31 Communications
    OL Matt Summers-Gavin, California Jr. 3.31 Political Science

    DL Nate Bonsu, Colorado So. 3.47 Business-International Affairs
    DL Taylor Hart, Oregon So. 3.20 Sociology
    DL Devon Kennard, USC Jr. 3.20 Communication
    DL Anthony Poremba, Colorado RS Sr. 3.34 Economics
    LB Cort Dennison, Washington Sr. 3.05 Communications
    LB Matt Martinez, Utah Sr. 3.09 Sociology
    LB Colin Parker, Arizona State Gr. 3.26 Marketing
    DB Johnson Bademosi, Stanford Sr. 3.05 History
    DB Justin Gorman, Colorado RS Fr. 3.70 Business-Finance
    DB Drew McAllister, USC Jr. 3.12 Public Policy
    DB Jared Tevis, Arizona RS Fr. 3.33 Pre-Business

    PK Giorgio Tavecchio, California Sr. 3.71 Political Economy
    P Jeff Locke, UCLA RS Jr. 3.63 Economics
    ST William Chandler, Washington So. 3.83 Business/Accounting

    Arizona: OL Trace Biskin, Jr.; WR Dave Roberts, Sr.
    Arizona State: PK Alex Garoutte, RS Fr.; LS Cameron Kastl, Sr.; OL Mike Marcisz, Sr.; WR Kyle Middlebrooks, So.; TE Max Smith, So.
    California: LB Dan Camporeale, So.; OL Justin Cheadle, Sr.
    Colorado: OL David Clark, RS Sr.; OL Daniel Munyer, RS Fr.
    Oregon: LB Michael Clay, Jr.; WR Daryle Hawkins, So.; LB Keloni Kamalani, So.; PK Alejandro Maldonado, So.; LB Derrick Malone, RS Fr.; DL Nick Musgrove, Sr., OL Jeff Palmer, Jr.; P Jackson Rice, So.; DL Tony Washington, RS Fr.
    Oregon State: TE Connor Hamlett, RS Fr.; QB Ryan Katz, Jr.; LS Marcus Perry, Sr.; TE Colby Prince, Jr.; DT Andrew Seumalo, Jr., LB Tony Wilson, Jr.
    Stanford: DE Henry Anderson, RS Fr.; TE Coby Fleener, Sr.; LS Andrew Fowler, Sr.; P David Green, Sr.; DE Matt Masifilo, Sr.; ILB Shane Skov, Jr.; WR Griff Whalen, Sr.; PK Jordan Williamson, RS Fr.
    UCLA: PK Tyler Gonzalez, RS Sr.; LB Eric Kendricks, RS Fr.; LB Jared Koster, RS Fr.; LS Kevin McDermott, RS Jr.; DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, So.; LB Aramide Olaniyan, RS Fr.; QB Kevin Prince, RS Jr.; LB Phillip Ruhl, RS Fr.; OL Chris Ward, So.; LB Sean Westgate, Sr.
    USC: P Kyle Negrete, Jr.; S Cody Romness, Jr.
    Utah: WR Dres Anderson, RS Fr.; S Greg Bird, Sr.; LB Brian Blechen, So.; DB Mike Honeycutt, So.; K/P Nick Marsh, So.; RB Thretton Palamo, So.; TE Dallin Rogers, Jr.; WR Kenneth Scott, RS Fr.
    Washington: PK Erik Folk, Sr.
    Washington State: TE Aaron Dunn, Gr.; OL John Fullington, So.; PK Andrew Furney, So.; DE Skylar Stormo, RS Jr.; P Dan Wagner, RS Sr.; WR Kristoff Williams, So.

  • 707 Bear


    Excellence in the classroom and on the field: few better than Alex Mack.

    He won the Academic Heisman (not sure what it’s called today).

    Since Cal supposedly stands for excellence in both areas, how about retiring #51? Sends a nice message.

    Go Bears!

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    I love that comment in the article. Maynard looked good throwing the ball away a couple of times. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Now that’s what you call a compliment.

  • milo

    Thanks, the MoroN filter works!

    Cal needs a near perfect game, no turnovers, few penalties, 150 yards passing, 175 rushing, DEFENSE and 4 TDs to be in the game. Some luck and turn-over/take-aways doesn’t hurt either.

    Go Bears!

  • eric

    707 – that may be the best idea I have heard all year. bravo!

  • MikeD

    @Milo – welcome!

    BlockAmy greasemonkey script is available for free here: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/58785

    The script replaces posts by MoreNCSarecoming with the text “MoreNCS_are_sanctioned and ignored – troll post blocked”

    Go Bears, beat the tree

  • newell67

    @707 Bear and Eric, if you are going to retire Mack’s jersey then you have to retire Je’Rod Cherry’s and Donald Pat Newell’s jersey also.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    How do you know the difference between a Maynard throw away and just an errant overthrow?

  • eric

    I would retire the jersey of any Cal player who won the Heisman (athletic or academic).

  • Bears

    Cal has a good opponent Saturday night with a great college QB they are up against.
    I just hope the Bears keep improving. These past two games have been really fun to watch the run game come together and become a strength. Have to keep running that ball and playing smart tough football.
    Come on California, Big Game, Axe on the line, everything to gain since all the pundits already have us losing big. We are the University of California!
    Go Bears

  • milo

    @MikeD – thanks!

    Go Bears!

  • wehofx

    Couldn’t resist Cal and 18. I’m confident the o line, Isi and CJ will show up. I just hope the D and ZM also show up on the road.

    Grease Monkey is the best. I’m also glad to see fewer posts feeding the troll.

    Go Bears!

  • Kent Wilson

    Just hoping for a competitive game! Go BEARS!

  • 707 Bear


    Je’rod cherry’s jersey?

    help an old bear understand your sarcasm

  • milo

    A retired Cal football jersey is a very rare thing, rarer then Nobels. Joe Knapp and Jackie Jensen’s jerseys aren’t retired. No offense to anyone else but that makes jersey retirement an extraordinary event.

  • Larry

    I don’t like retiring jerseys. Even #12. You are in school from 3-5 years, you are BORROWING a number.

    P.S. Wasn’t Cherry #30?

  • rollonubears

    we seem to be the only team in the ncaa who has to swap guys’ jerseys out when we’re on special teams, anyway. why make it worse?

  • milo

    Turd the Furd!