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Bear Insider Ultimate Insider Podcast E85: Cal Pre-Spring Defense Preview

March 8, 2024
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Cal Hall of Fame QB and color analyst Mike Pawlawski talks with Bear Insider editor Jim McGill about Cal's returning defensive players and new additions heading into spring ball this month.

You can hear the audio podcast on SoundcloudSpotify and Apple Podcasts or on most podcast streaming services or watch the video below.

Related:

Bear Insider Ultimate Insider Podcast E84: Cal Pre-Spring Offense Preview

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Bear Insider Ultimate Insider Podcast E85: Cal Pre-Spring Defense Preview

1,857 Views | 9 Replies | Last: 21 days ago by 6956bear
bearsandgiants
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Sounds like when oppenents blow through our Dline there may be some people there waiting for them. Could be worse, I guess, but that's a lot of 6-8 yard carries.
Lets Go!
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Hopefully they can stop the run better. Lot's of injuries, but we have a few back. They need to stay healthy as a d-line. Transfer kid Aidan K, stats show he was very productive when he was playing at ND. Knee injury put him behind a year. Hopefully, he can stay healthy. Lastly, D-Line needs to play the position and gap responsibility.
Big C
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^^^ What do you (or what does anybody) think about this 2-4-5 we started playing last season? Who else does that? I had never heard of it, but I don't keep up on the latest trends. Was it because of the personnel that we had healthy?
MoragaBear
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Staff
There's virtually never only 2 on the DL at any point. There's usually 2 DEs or 2 OLBs lining up on the edge like Carlton, who came to Cal as a DE anyway and Reese, who could easily be a DE, too.
Big C
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MoragaBear said:

There's virtually never only 2 on the DL at any point. There's usually 2 DEs or 2 OLBs lining up on the edge like Carlton, who came to Cal as a DE anyway and Reese, who could easily be a DE, too.

Right, the edge guys (or OLBs) come up to the line. (I remember Reese, last season, being put all over the d-line to disguise where he was going to rush the passer from.)

But in this situation, there are usually only two players who would be considered "classic d-linemen", correct? Either they are not your 6-4, 280 lb. DEs and/or they are not lining up in a 3 or 4 point stance.
MoragaBear
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Staff
Big C said:

MoragaBear said:

There's virtually never only 2 on the DL at any point. There's usually 2 DEs or 2 OLBs lining up on the edge like Carlton, who came to Cal as a DE anyway and Reese, who could easily be a DE, too.

Right, the edge guys (or OLBs) come up to the line. (I remember Reese, last season, being put all over the d-line to disguise where he was going to rush the passer from.

But in this situation, there are usually only two players who would be considered "classic d-linemen", correct? Either they are not your 6-4, 280 lb. DEs and/or they are not lining up in a 3 or 4 point stance.
They sometimes play regular DEs but Carlton is 6-6/275 and is very much like a classic DE.
calumnus
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Lets Go! said:

Hopefully they can stop the run better. Lot's of injuries, but we have a few back. They need to stay healthy as a d-line. Transfer kid Aidan K, stats show he was very productive when he was playing at ND. Knee injury put him behind a year. Hopefully, he can stay healthy. Lastly, D-Line needs to play the position and gap responsibility.


We were actually good in run defense, #37 in total run defense, #38 in rushing yards per carry (3.8).

It is pass defense where we were the third worst in the country at #131. FWIW, Stanford was dead last.

Part of that was playing in the PAC-12 with great passing offenses, but there is no excuse for having the second worst pass defense in the PAC-12, and only because Stanford was the worst in the country,


The big picture is we were #105 in total defense and #114 in scoring defense. Somewhat more reasonably we were #68 in yards per play.

The HUGE issue is our poor recruiting at DL. No pass rush. Plus, we try to stop the run with LBs crashing the LOS but opposing OCs just burn us through the air.

Big C
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MoragaBear said:

Big C said:

MoragaBear said:

There's virtually never only 2 on the DL at any point. There's usually 2 DEs or 2 OLBs lining up on the edge like Carlton, who came to Cal as a DE anyway and Reese, who could easily be a DE, too.

Right, the edge guys (or OLBs) come up to the line. (I remember Reese, last season, being put all over the d-line to disguise where he was going to rush the passer from.

But in this situation, there are usually only two players who would be considered "classic d-linemen", correct? Either they are not your 6-4, 280 lb. DEs and/or they are not lining up in a 3 or 4 point stance.
They sometimes play regular DEs but Carlton is 6-6/275 and is very much like a classic DE.

Wow, Carlton is now a similar size to one of my all-time fav Cal DEs, Duane Clemons (mid '90s?). Dude had a just-about dominating senior season (overshadowing Reagan Upshaw), then went on to the NFL. Hoping for something similar for "X", who really flashed towards the end of last season, after kinda a slow start.
6956bear
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calumnus said:

Lets Go! said:

Hopefully they can stop the run better. Lot's of injuries, but we have a few back. They need to stay healthy as a d-line. Transfer kid Aidan K, stats show he was very productive when he was playing at ND. Knee injury put him behind a year. Hopefully, he can stay healthy. Lastly, D-Line needs to play the position and gap responsibility.


We were actually good in run defense, #37 in total run defense, #38 in rushing yards per carry (3.8).

It is pass defense where we were the third worst in the country at #131. FWIW, Stanford was dead last.

Part of that was playing in the PAC-12 with great passing offenses, but there is no excuse for having the second worst pass defense in the PAC-12, and only because Stanford was the worst in the country,


The big picture is we were #105 in total defense and #114 in scoring defense. Somewhat more reasonably we were #68 in yards per play.

The HUGE issue is our poor recruiting at DL. No pass rush. Plus, we try to stop the run with LBs crashing the LOS but opposing OCs just burn us through the air.


The DL has not performed as hoped, but many of the players along the DL were highly regarded and recruited pretty heavily. But there have been injuries and you have to consider the development and scheme as well.

Wilkins, Calhoun, Saole-McKenzie and Burrell were all pretty highly regarded recruits at the time. There was lot of praise given to Browning. Correia as well and of course Brett Johnson. But injuries plagued this group. Wilkins and Calhoun have been hurt much of their time here. Saole-McKenzie had a family tragedy that took him away for an entire season. We know what injuries have done to Johnson. Cal has added Keanaaina from Notre Dame who was heavily recruited in HS but like many of the Cal DL suffered with injuries. And perhaps Cals best IDL Ethan Saunders missed almost the entire season in 2023 with an injury. He is hoping to play in 2024 and is participating in Spring. He apparently did consider a medical retirement. If healthy he is a good player. There is talent here. Now lets see if they can stay healthy and play. It is probably safe to say that they are unlikely to play to the level hoped for when recruited, but there is ability in the room.

We have heard some rumors regarding a different approach on defense. More emphasis on TFLs and penetration vs engage along the DL. The need for longer down and distance opportunities on defense. 2nd and 6 and 3rd and 2 are hard for the defense to win over and over. And more risk generally in regards to blitz packages. They have to help the DBs with pressure. They have had some recruiting wins at DB they believe will help provide better coverage allowing some new blitz packages. We have heard that before. We'll see . I expect them to play much as they have in the past schematically. I hope to be wrong.
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