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Bears Defense Standing Tall to Start the Season

September 13, 2023
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While Cal’s offense works its way through an injury-cluttered first few weeks, Peter Sirmon is feeling pretty positive about the way things have gone so far for the Golden Bears defense.

For good reason, too.

Sirmon’s squad has already shown significant improvement from a year ago. Through the Bears’ first two games, a win at North Texas and last week’s loss to Auburn in the home opener, the defense gave up 35 points while allowing just 227 ½ yards a game, second-fewest among Pac-12 teams.

In eight quarters, Cal has surrendered just 21 first downs, allowed opponents to convert only 6 of 23 third-down attempts (20.7 percent) and has been a big reason why the Bears own a 14-minute advantage over teams in terms of time of possession.

Cal has also forced seven turnovers this season - four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

Just as pleasing to Sirmon, if not more, has been the effort and energy that the Bears have played with, something the defensive coordinator recognized in the close loss to Auburn at Memorial Stadium.

“The first thing that comes to mind is that I thought they played with really good toughness. They competed their tails off, which is unfortunately something you hear when you fall short,” Sirmon said. “But a lot of what we’re asking our guys to do is compete, stand up, embrace that challenge. In that regard I’m very proud of how they’re performing.

“I think we have a pretty talented defense. The guys that are out there playing, for the most part, are doing exactly what we’re asking them to do with good effort, with some violence to them on how they’re finishing.”

Indeed.

Cal’s defense played a huge role in keeping the team close against Auburn, forcing four turnovers that the offense unfortunately failed to convert into many points.

But Sirmon also noted that the defense failed to make key stops on Auburn’s 10-play, 73-yard drive for the deciding touchdown in the fourth quarter.

One of the bright spots for Cal’s defense has been the play of redshirt sophomore inside linebacker Kaleb Elams-Orr, a backup for all of 2022 while he continued to recover from an ACL injury suffered in high school, who has been a starter since this season began.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder is second on the team with 14 tackles (nine solo) and has one interception, one forced fumble and two passes broken up.

“Kaleb has good tools and has made tremendous progress from when he first arrived here due to a lot of different factors,” Sirmon said. “(Against Auburn) he showed the ability of making plays, literally sideline to sideline. You see the range that he possesses. We just need to keep getting him more opportunities, more experience. And there’s only one way to gain experience.

“He’s done a good job of handling himself well. He is still young in the position. He wasn’t a true behind-the-ball guy in high school, so every practice rep and every game rep is important to him. He has to continue to invest in himself and invest in the process of being the player that we think he can be.”

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Discussion from...

Bears Defense Standing Tall to Start the Season

2,965 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by chazzed
concernedparent
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The D has been awesome but the offenses problems are a lot bigger than losing a center, 1/4 of Ott, and 3/4 of a game for Jackson (in a blowout).
WalterSobchak
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3rd and 17 at AUB31 No Huddle-Shotgun Thorne,Payton pass complete deep right to Fairweather,Rivaldo for 28 yards to the Bears41, End Of Play, 1ST DOWN.
Give to Cal Legends! https://calegends.com/donation/ Do it now. Text every Cal fan you know, give them the link, tell them how much you gave, and ask them to text every Cal fan they know and do the same.
Strykur
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WalterSobchak said:

3rd and 17 at AUB31 No Huddle-Shotgun Thorne,Payton pass complete deep right to Fairweather,Rivaldo for 28 yards to the Bears41, End Of Play, 1ST DOWN.


42 yards MISS
42 yards MISS
44 yards MISS
BarcaBear
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concernedparent said:

The D has been awesome but the offenses problems are a lot bigger than losing a center, 1/4 of Ott, and 3/4 of a game for Jackson (in a blowout).
those 3 are actually quite significant, and point to depth issues
chazzed
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