Things were bound to change in Berkeley. Sonny Dykes opened up his first spring practice with the Cal Bears since taking over for the fired Jeff Tedford on Monday and worked quickly to put his stamp on the team. The first step: changing the 3-4 defense of 2012 into a 4-3 defense for 2013.
Part of that transition also included moving some players to new positions. Three players who were outside linebackers in Clancy Pendergrast‘s defense last season made the switch to defensive end on day one of spring practice under new defensive coordinator Andy Buh. Juniors Ted Agu and Chris McCain along with sophomore Nathan Broussard will be working on their 3-point stances as they learn to hold the edge as defensive linemen.
There they will join sophomore Todd Barr, who will remain at defensive end, while Deandre Coleman, Viliami Moala, Gabe King and Mustafa Jalil all come back this season to play defensive tackle in the new 4-3 scheme. The Golden Bears will also be leaning heavily on new recruit Sione Sina, who was rated as the No. 4 JUCO defensive end, to make an immediate impact next season, though he will miss this spring following knee surgery.
The Bears’ defense looks to be a work in progress this spring, but they hope they can get some of the kinks worked out by the time they break for the summer. They’ll be trying to improve on their 2012 effort, where they ranked No. 98 in scoring defense, allowing 33.1 points per game which included giving up 49 points or more in three of the last five games of the season.
So will these linebackers be able to make the transition into the trenches? Their success (or failure) will go a long way in determining how much improvement we can expect to see out of the Bears in 2013.