The Bears got their first full-time look last week at sophomore outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett and they liked what they saw.
Making his first start, the 6-foot-4, 255-pounder had 12 tackles in the Bears 31-24 loss to Nevada.
Of course, Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast liked the look of Scarlett when he walked into his living room on a recruiting home visit.
“He’s a big, imposing guy. In a few years he’s going to be a big man,” Pendergast said this week. “He kind of reminds me of a young Willie McGinest body-type. I don’t know if he’s going to be that kind of player, but you look at his stature and his length and his size for somebody his age, he’s got a chance to really fill out.”
Scarlett, who missed most of last season with injury, got high marks from Pendergast for his performance vs. Nevada.
“He played really well. He is a physical presence at the point of attack, he gets off blocks and he’s very conscientious about his position and he plays extremely hard,” Pendergast said. “That was really his first full action since he’s been here so I only expect him to get better the more he plays.
“We’re excited about his progress.”
Pendergast said the defensive game plan against Nevada, with scrambling quarterback Cody Fajardo, did not allow Scarlett and Chris McCain to really cut loose as pass rushers.
“We think those two guys are going to be really good outside rushers for us,” he said. “As the season goes on, we’ll let those guys stay on the edges a little bit more. We definitely need their presence out there.”
Here are Pendergast’s thoughts on a few other topics:
– Sophomore Kameron Jackson has at least temporarily lost his position as starting nickel back after the Nevada game. Versatile senior Josh Hill will move from safety to the nickel this week with sophomore Michael Lowe stepping into his spot.
“Kam had two good weeks of practice, but he was really inconsistent in the game and didn’t play as well as I would have liked him to play,” Pendergast said. “He cost us some plays throughout the course of that game I wish we had back, mistakes he shouldn’t have made.
“That’s something as a defense we’re not going to tolerate. So he’s got to kind of earn his way back in the mix.”
Pendergast said Jackson’s opportunity is not gone. “Kam will be in there some — he needs reps to learn,” Pendergast said. “Kam’s going to have to play early in the year so we can develop him at that position.”
– Redshirt freshman Todd Barr has worked his way into the rotation at defensive end and backed that up by registering 1 1/2 tackles for loss against Nevada.
“Todd’s a little bit of an undersized guy. He’s a good athlete and he’s active,” Pendergast said of the 6-3, 275-pounder. “If we can substitute him in there he creates a little bit different problem from a matchup standpoint for the offensive line.
“He’s a very smart kid and we can do a lot of different things with him. We’re very excited about the things he can do for this defense.”
– Pendergast said Southern Utah’s primary offense threat is the strong arm of 6-foot-5 senior quarterback Brad Sorensen, who drew six NFL scouts to the Thunderbirds’ opening game last week against Utah State.
“The quarterback’s a very talented player. He’s got a big arm. He’s extremely accurate. He can make all the throws,” Pendergast said.
After beginning his college career as a walkon at BYU, Sorensen passed for more than 3,100 yards each of the past two seasons at SUU. He threw 38 touchdowns over those 22 games.
Sorensen struggled in the 34-3 loss to Utah State, going just 12 for 31 with an interception. But he is the Big Sky Preseason Player of the Year, is listed on the Unitas Award watch list, and was named to a handful of FCS preseason All-America teams.