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Cal football fall practice report: Bears incorporate rugby tackling, two QB system?

Good times.

NCAA Football: Utah at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The California Golden Bears finally seem to be embracing the techniques of the most successful varsity sport on campus. Here comes rugby tackling!

Justin Wilcox admitted that Cal is fast deploying rugby tackling as their primary form of defensive scheming. Wilcox has chatted with Jack Clark about how to deploy it, and the Bears have shown plenty of rugby-style tackles in film prep. Wilcox also talked about the importance of shoulder tackling becoming the foundation of the new Cal defense.

Rugby tackling is fast become one of the most popular ways to play defense not only at the collegiate level, but the high school and professional level. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll started pushing hard for it a few years back, and Dan Quinn took his tackling scheme to the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. Not only does it guard from concussions, it’s still plenty effective. More from SB Nation:

"There’s so much talk around the league and around the game of football right now, that I wanted to see if we could contribute to helping people understand how you could play this game and do it in a great fashion and continue to promote the game," Carroll said.


"The rugby tackling really involves shoulder tackling," Quinn said when he was hired by the Falcons. "It’s a leverage tackling principle, so for us, not only is it safer but it’s more effective for us to do that.

You don’t have to tell Cal rugby twice about the effectiveness of rugby tackling: The Bears rolled their way to another national championship and a Sevens title a few weeks after that last season.

More quotes from Wilcox:

Evan Weaver: “Evan [Weaver], playing inside, he’s a physical guy, he can run, he’s pretty natural in there for not doing it much. He did it some in high school, so it’s been good to see that. We’re gonna rep him, continuing to build his reps this week.

Malik Psalms, : ”Malik gives you a little different element out there, he’s a skill guy, moving from the safety position to that outside backer spot, and we can use him at another spot we call the ‘coin’ which is an important spot for us too. Just a guy that can match up tight ends, in the slot if you need him to, and still a physical guy”

Hamilton Anoa’i: “Hamilton moved outside and has done a nice job, he had his most productive day in terms of live football last Saturday, so it was good to see him. He’s a real smart guy and he’s taken the position really well and it’s benefitted him and it’s benefitted us.”

On quarterback situation: ”We’re letting it play itself out .... When the time comes, we’ll name him. It’s not off the table to play two guys.”

On tackling improvements through scrimmage: “You can go through all the drill work and I think they understand the concepts, but then you gotta go out and perform it. I think they’ve done a better and better job. Technique wise, taking good angles, that type of thing has shown up.”

Demetris Robertson: ”I think you see the weekly growth and understanding the offense and becoming more of an expert at his position. He obviously can take the top off, as you guys have seen and just some of the little details of the game, I think he’s getting better and better, and the great thing is is he’s hungry for it, and he really wants it and he takes time to learn it and ask good questions. It matters to him, and his team matters to him. He really loves the team.”