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The Sacramento Report: Talking Defense With Coach P

With a rousing week one victory and the Candlestick fiasco in the rearview mirror, it was a suddenly upbeat and optimistic crowd on hand for the 2nd Sacramento Grid Club meeting of 2011.  And what better discussion topic for optimistic fans than Clancy Pendergast, architect of the best defense in the Pac-10 last year, depending on your statistic of choice.  And after another dominating defensive performance that limited Fresno St. to just 218 yards and one true scoring drive there's some evidence to suggest that Coach Pendergast's defense might again top the conference.

Due to some extremely bad luck our scheduled guest speaker wasn't able to make it, but that just meant more time to talk about pressing issues, like how glad we are that Cal fans shouldn't have to visit Candlestick Park for many, many year, or how apprehensive we are about a potential Pac-16.  But more importantly we all got to talk to Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and B.G. Brooks of  Hit the jump to read what they had to say.

Thanks to the wonderful CalBear81 for her excellent notes, allowing me to better paraphrase our speakers!

Defense Coordinator Clancy Pendergast

The Colorado offensive line had problems against Hawaii's defense - did you see anything that Cal can replicate?

Hawaii has a strong defense - they only sent four linemen and those players won their individual battles.  We'll have to try to do the same.

On the positives and negatives of Cal's defensive performance against Fresno St.

We gave up too many yards in the run game, but it was mostly positives - lots of good energy, which is what we want to see.

Any injuries from the Fresno St. game?

No, no significant injuries to report.

How fast is D.J. Campbell?!?

Pretty fast to run down Wylie!

On Viliami Moala

We wanted to get his feet wet against Fresno St.  His role will grow every week and will get on the field more and more as the season progresses.

On the altitude at Colorado

It was never and issue when I was there playing the Broncos in the NFL.  If you're running a marathon that's one thing, but not a sprint.  The impact can be exaggerated.

Who pleasantly surprised you against Fresno St.?

Trevor Guyton, Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Campbell all stood out against the Bulldogs.

On the play of Josh Hill

He's very valuable to the team because he knows the defense so well.  He could just about line up at any position . . . well, maybe not on the line, but he would know the assignment if he was asked to do it!  We consider him our 12th starter because he's in whenever we use our nickel package.

How big an issue was the wind last week?

It really swirled around a lot, and it changes things.  When they had the wind at their back we knew they could go deep, but if they didn't we might've anticipated more runs.  It was something to keep an eye on.

How are the coaches trying to address Cal's road struggles over the past few years?

It's a new year, and we've had to move around every Saturday for practices in the spring, and then we played at Candlestick.  That will help us play on the road this year.

Was FSU a good test for our defense?

They are a good team - we knew we had to prepare well because they have Pac-12 quality players.

On defensive line depth

We play seven or eight deep with guys who are good enough to be out there at any time.

How has the transition from the NFL to college been?

There's less meeting time in college, so I've had to learn to be very efficient with my time.  The other major change has been facing vastly different offenses from week to week - pistol to spread to pro style, etc.  The experience has made me a better coach.

On Brendan Scarlett

Great potential.  He's very athletic and fast.  He'll play more and more, and the sky is the limit for him.  Very coachable, he learns quickly.

On the defense winning games by themselves if the offense struggles

Our motto is, "If they don't score, we win."  Our goal is to put a zero on the board.  We didn't do that against Fresno St., so we know we can get better.


B.G. Brooks

On Bryant Moniz's success running the ball and if Colorado will be prepared for Zach Maynard

Hawaii sprung a new wrinkle to their offense by running the zone read and it completely surprised Colorado.  And they did a much better job containing Moniz in the 2nd half.  They certainly won't be surprised by Maynard - they know what he can do .

On Colorado's struggles at offensive line and new line coach Steve Marshall.

Colorado lost their starting left tackle early in the Hawaii game and he's day-to-day this week.  It was a tough loss, and it's very concerning to give up seven sacks.  It's something they're working on this week.  As for marshall, he had a good reputation in his first stint at Colorado, and we don't really know what the deal was at Cal, but the seven sacks last week is a big concern.

How much does the altitude usually affect opponents?

It's a factor for some teams, so feel the effects in the 4th quarter, more so bigger players like offensive linemen.  It's a bigger deal in basketball than it is in football.

What kind of changes has Coach Embree made in his first year?

He's trying to institute a power running game, though you certainly couldn't tell against Hawaii.  They're trying to get more physical overall - they kinda had the reputation before of being more of a finesse team.  But they're not there yet.

What kind of role did Eric Kiesau have calling plays last year?

He was our offensive coordinator, calling plays from the booth, so he's very familiar with Colorado's players.  Interestingly, new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy tried calling plays from the sideline at Hawaii, but I think he'll be in the booth this week, because it's just hard to survey the field from the sidelines.

What is Colorado's perspective on the Pac-16 rumors?

Most hope it doesn't happen, but it certainly looks possible.  I've been hearing that Texas may be willing to give up the Longhorn Network, but we're used to them wanting to be the power brokers.  There's a certain arrogance there, wanting to run everything, which makes me think they may not be a great fit in the Pac-16.

On current Cal DB coach and former Colorado DB coach Ashley Ambrose.

I really like him.  A good NFL player, a good recruiter.  I think the world of him.