With a new regime taking over in Berkeley, there were bound to be changes taking place with the Cal Bears. The defense, in particular, is going through major changes heading into 2013, changing over from the 3-4 scheme of Jeff Tedford and Clancy Pendergrast to a 4-3 alignment under Sonny Dykes and new defensive coordinator Andy Buh and junior Chris McCain is poised to break out thanks to those changes.
Last season, McCain led the Bears with 3.5 sacks in 2012 from the outside linebacker position and finished the season with 47 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. He was one of the first defensive players to go through a position change when the new coaching staff took over as Buh transitioned him down to a defensive end. That move will allow him to focus on his strength which is rushing the passer.
McClain has incredible length and athleticism at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds that gives him a serious advantage when coming off the edge. As a defensive end in Buh’s 4-3 system, McClain won’t have to worry about dropping into coverage nearly as often. All he has to do is focus on coming off the edge and making plays with his speed.
That will be a major boost for the Cal defense next season after they struggled to get to the quarterback in 2012. They didn’t have a dominant pass rusher emerge, partially thanks to MCain splitting time between rushing the passer and dropping into coverage. Given the opportunity to get after the quarterback more consistently in 2013 as a defensive end will open up the opportunity for him to emerge as an elite pass-rusher next season.