A young 2012 defense that seems well equipped for the future had several outstanding moments and performances despite losing six starters from the previous campaign. Among those lost was 2011 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Michael Kendricks and most of the heart of the defense with both inside linebackers and safeties moving on to the NFL. The team also lost both of its starting defensive ends. The 2012 defense keyed Cal's strongest stretch of the season by holding South Division champion UCLA and Washington State to 17 points each in back-to-back victories. During a five-game run that started with the UCLA victory on October 6 and extended through a 21-13 loss to Washington on November 2, the defense allowed more than 21 points only once. Statistically, the Bears' highest rankings nationally came in the big play categories as they tied for 35th in tackles for loss (6.42 tflpg), tied for 36th in total turnovers caused (23) and were 38th in sacks (2.33 spg) out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Cal forced at least one turnover in 10 of 12 games, including a five-game stretch of 15 turnovers caused. All told, the team's turnovers led to 50 Cal points, including Marc Anthony's 61-yard interception return for a touchdown against Southern Utah.
Individually, Josh Hill, Chris McCain and Steve Williams were honorable mention All-Pac-12 selections for the first time in their collegiate careers. Hill led the team with 87 tackles and ranked ninth in the Pac-12 with a 7.2 per-game average. McCain co-led the team and posted career highs of 8.5 tackles for loss (-38 yards) and 3.5 sacks (-27 yards), while also adding a career high 50 tackles. Williams shared the club lead with three interceptions, while his 10 pass breakups and 13 passes defended were also team highs, with the latter ranking tied for sixth in the conference with a per-game average of 1.08. Williams contributed a career-high 70 tackles and was tied for 15th in the Pac-12 with an average of 6.7 stops per game.
Cal led the Pac-12 in total defense (332.92 ypg) and pass defense (204.23 ypg) in 2011 while ranking 25th and 37th nationally, respectively. The Bears' defense put opposing quarterbacks under pressure from a variety of attacks - with 16 different players contributing to the team's total 34.0 sacks. Cal's per-game averages paced the Pac-12 and ranked seventh nationally in tackles for loss (7.69 tflpg), while ranking third in the conference and 19th nationally in sacks (2.62 spg). In addition, the Bears led the league in opponents' first down, allowing only 17.4 per game. Cal was also second in the conference and 39th nationally in pass efficiency defense (122.06). The Bears staunchly defended the run, holding five opponents under 70 yards rushing. The Bears' defense played particularly well late in the campaign. In back-to-back wins over Washington State and Oregon State that started a successful final month of the regular season, Cal allowed only a combined 13 points while holding the Cougars and Beavers to an average of 48.0 rushing yards per game. Overall, Cal was fourth in the Pac-12 and 34th nationally in 2011 in rushing defense (128.69 ypg). The Bears forced 23 turnovers in 2011 that led to 82 points, including 12 that the defense was directly accountable for on a 19-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Trevor Guyton vs. Fresno State and a 32-yard interception return for a score from Hill against Utah.
Kendricks, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and a second-team All-American in 2011, flourished in his second season in Pendergast's defense. Kendricks recorded a career-high 107 tackles while adding 14.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks, with his per-game tackles for loss (1.12) and tackles (8.15) ranking third and fifth in the Pac-12. Kendricks was chosen in the second round (No. 46 overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles and became a starter in his rookie season. Pendergast was also crucial to the development of Guyton at defensive end and safety D.J. Campbell, both of whom ended up as seventh-round NFL Draft picks despite not developing into full-time starters at Cal until their final seasons in Berkeley when they both started all 13 contests as seniors. Guyton, selected No. 219 overall by Minnesota, was a second-team All-Pac-12 pick after leading the Bears with 5.5 sacks and ranked second to Kendricks with his 12.0 tackles for loss. His per-game averages ranked sixth in the conference in tackles for loss (0.96) and 10th in sacks (0.42). Campbell, selected No. 216 overall by Carolina, ranked fourth on the team with 71 tackles and added a team-high-tying two interceptions. Sean Cattouse, D.J. Holt and Aaron Tipoti all had their lone honorable mention All-Pac-12 campaigns under Pendergast in 2011. Cattouse (San Diego Chargers) and Holt (Washington Redskins) signed as undrafted free agents with NFL teams after the season, while Tipoti returned for his 2012 senior season at Cal.
In 2010, Cal's defense led the Pac-10 and ranked in the top 25 nationally in per-game averages for sacks (2.83 spg, No. 13), total defense (319.08 ypg, No. 18) and pass defense (187.00 ypg, No. 21). Cal was also first in the Pac-10 in first downs allowed (18.1 fdpg) and second in opponents' third-down conversion percentage (34.7%). The team's pass efficiency defense and scoring defense, which held opponents to 17 points or less in eight of 12 games, were both third in the Pac-10, as well as 31st and 40th nationally. Cal was significantly better in all the above categories compared to 2009 when the Bears were seventh in the Pac-10 and 72nd nationally in total defense (378.85 ypg). Cal was fifth in the Pac-10 and 35th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 132.08 yards per contest.
Individually, players such as Cameron Jordan and Chris Conte thrived under Pendergast's aggressive system before being taken by the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears in the first and third rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft, respectively. Both players earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors for the first time in their collegiate careers, with Jordan adding honorable mention All-American honors from Pro Football Weekly. Jordan started all 12 games and recorded career highs of 62 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss (No. 4 Pac-10), to go with 5.5 sacks (No. 11 Pac-10). Conte had by far the biggest season of his collegiate career and ranked third on the team with a career-high 72 tackles in his first campaign as a full-time starter. Mike Mohamed also continued his consistent and strong play from previous seasons, leading the Bears in tackles for the second consecutive campaign with 95 stops and earning second-team All-Pac-10 honors. Mohamed was selected in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Jordan and Conte both became starters in their rookie NFL campaigns in 2011.
The Bears' 2010 defensive unit was also spectacular at times, recording five first-half shutouts and holding its opponents to 10 or fewer total points on four occasions - the highest number in a single season since the "Bear Minimum" defense limited seven opponents to 10 or fewer points in 1968. Cal also held its opponents below 200 yards of total offense three times. In one of their most significant performances of the season, the Bears held top-ranked Oregon nearly four times below its season average in a 15-13 defeat and Pendergast was named the National Coordinator of the Week by Rivals for his unit's effort. The Ducks came into the game averaging 54.7 points per contest.
Cal scored four defensive touchdowns in 2010, with fumble returns for scores by Darian Hagan, Derrick Hill and Jordan, and an interception return from Mohamed. After two games, Cal had actually put up more points (12) than it had allowed (10), with both of the defensive touchdowns coming against Colorado on a 41-yard interception return by Mohamed and an 82-yard fumble return from Hagan. Cal either scored on a turnover or after forcing a turnover in eight of its 12 games. The team scored a total of 72 points after forcing turnovers.
Pendergast took over as the Golden Bears' defensive coordinator in February of 2010 after six previous campaigns as an NFL defensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs (2009) and Arizona Cardinals (2004-08). He was the defensive coordinator in Arizona when the Cardinals captured the 2008 NFC title to earn a berth in Super Bowl XLIII.
During his six-year stint as an NFL defensive coordinator, the signature of Pendergast's defenses was the ability to force turnovers, with his squads racking up a combined 176 total takeaways (92 interceptions, 84 fumble recoveries).
In his one season with Kansas City in 2009, a Chiefs' defense that was among the NFL's youngest (26.6 average years of age opening-day starting lineup, 25.3 average years of age opening-day roster) and least experienced (4.9 average years of experience opening-day starting lineup) ranked 12th in the NFL in turnovers with 19 of their 28 takeaways coming in the final eight games of the season. The defense also scored three touchdowns off turnovers.
Kansas City showed significant improvement in several areas under Pendergast. The Chiefs more than doubled their sack total from the previous season by downing the quarterback 22.0 times behind the line of scrimmage after picking up only 10.0 in 2008. Fourth-year player Tamba Hali led the way with a then career-high 8.5 sacks to earn a spot on the USA Today All-Joe team. The Chiefs also allowed seven fewer rushing touchdowns, increased their quarterback hurries from 40 to 53 and were much better on third downs, ranking third in the NFL in allowing conversions on third-down and 10 or more yards to go after being 26th in the category the season before Pendergast's arrival. The Chiefs moved up to 15th in third-down conversion percentage (38.1%) after being tied for 31st in 2008. In addition, Kansas City improved to tied for fifth in the league in allowing opponents to score in their initial possession after tying for 20th in 2008, as well as eighth in forcing three-and-outs (24.4%) after being 31st the previous season. Kansas City's cornerback duo of second-year players Brandon Flowers (5th-T, 19) and Brandon Carr (10th-T, 16) both ranked among the NFL's top 10 in passes defended, and were among the youngest starting tandems in the league.
For the five-year period from 2004-08, the Arizona teams Pendergast coached ranked eighth in the NFL by forcing 148 turnovers (77 interceptions, 71 fumbles).
During Arizona's Super Bowl run in the playoffs following the 2008 regular season, the Cardinals led all NFL teams by forcing 13 turnovers. The performance of the Arizona defense played a key role in post-season victories over Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia as the Cardinals limited the three highly regarded offenses to an average of 20.7 points per game. During the 2008 regular season, Arizona led the NFL with 17 fumble recoveries and ranked tied for fifth in the league with 30 takeaways. Arizona was also third in the NFL with opponents facing an average of 8.16 yards to go on second down and sixth by permitting 4.97 yards per play on first down.
The 2007 edition of the Cardinals ranked ninth in the NFL in run defense, allowing only 97.9 yards per game. On November 11, 2007, Arizona set a modern-day NFL record by holding the Detroit Lions to -18 rushing yards. The 2007 team also set single-season franchise records with six interception returns for touchdowns and 551 interception return yards. The club's 18 total interceptions tied for 10th in the league.
In 2006, Pendergast's defense forced 33 turnovers (16 interceptions, 17 fumbles), the most by the Cardinals since 1998 and tied for fifth in the NFL. The 17 fumble recoveries ranked fourth in the league.
The Cardinals were eighth in the NFL in total defense (295.6 ypg) in 2005, as well as fourth in third-down efficiency (34.2%), seventh in first downs allowed (272) and tied for 10th in fumble recoveries (13).
In Pendergast's first season with Arizona in 2004, the Cardinals improved to 12th in the NFL in both total defense and scoring defense after being ranked 26th and 32nd in those two categories the year before Pendergast arrived. In addition, Arizona forced 30 turnovers to rank tied for 13th in the NFL, compiling seven more takeaways than the season before his arrival when the Cardinals were 24th in the league with 23. The 2004 squad was also second in the NFL in red zone TD percentage (45.0%), fourth in third-down defense (31.6%) and tied for fifth in fumble recoveries (15).
During his tenure in Arizona, Pendergast also worked with the secondary and coached safety Adrian Wilson to a pair of Pro Bowls in 2006 and 2008. Defensive end Bertrand Berry (2004) and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (2007) also earned their first Pro Bowl selections playing in Pendergast's defense, while defensive back Antrel Rolle thrived.
In the five seasons prior to Pendergast joining the team in 2004, Arizona had ranked in the top 10 of a major defensive statistical category on only one occasion when the Cardinals were 10th in passing yards allowed in 1999.
In the five seasons under Pendergast, Arizona was 20th or better in the final NFL rankings in points allowed, total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed, yards allowed per play, opponents third-down percentage, sacks, interceptions and fumbles recovered a combined 37 times in 45 opportunities.
Pendergast spent the 2003 season as the linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns.
Prior to his one campaign in Cleveland, Pendergast was a member of a Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff that won two NFC East titles (1996, 1998) and made three NFC Playoff appearances (1996, 1998, 1999) during his seven-year tenure from 1996-2002. Pendergast spent his first four seasons in Dallas (1996-99) as a defensive assistant and quality control coach. He oversaw the club's nickel defense packages in 2000 before coaching the defensive backs in his final two campaigns (2001-02) with the Cowboys. Dallas ranked third in the NFL in pass defense in both 2000 (168.3 ypg) and 2001 (180.6 ypg). In 2002, Pendergast tutored safety Roy Williams, who was a consensus all-rookie selection and led Dallas with five interceptions. He also coached Williams to his lone All-Pro season in 2003 with Dallas.
Pendergast began his NFL coaching career in 1995 with one season as a defensive assistant/quality control coach for the Houston Oilers.
Prior to his 15 years in the NFL, Pendergast spent four seasons as an assistant coach in his first stint at the collegiate level. He served as a graduate assistant with Mississippi State in 1991, before working on coaching staffs at USC as a defensive assistant in 1992 and Oklahoma as a graduate assistant and tight ends coach from 1993-94. All three of the teams he worked with prior to moving on to the professional ranks qualified for bowl games.
Pendergast graduated from Arizona in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in Agriculture.
THE PENDERGAST FILE
Birthdate November 29, 1967 Hometown Glendale, AZ High School Tolleson HS College Arizona 1990 Bachelor's in Agriculture Family Single
2010-12 Cal Defensive Coordinator 2009 Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Coordinator/Secondary 2004-08 Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator 2003 Cleveland Browns Linebackers 1996-2002 Dallas Cowboys Defensive Backs (2001-02) Defensive Nickel Package (2000) Defensive Assistant/Quality Control (1996-99) 1995 Houston Oilers Defensive Assistant/Quality Control 1993-94 Oklahoma Graduate Assistant/Tight Ends 1992 USC Defensive Assistant 1991 Mississippi State Graduate Assistant
Super Bowls (1)
Year Bowl Team 2008 Super Bowl XLII Arizona
NFL Playoff Games (8)
Year Team (Games) 2008 Arizona (4 Games) 1999 Dallas (1 Game) 1998 Dallas (1 Game) 1996 Dallas (2 Games)
Bowl Games (4)
Year Bowl School 2011 Holiday Cal 1994 Copper Oklahoma 1993 John Hancock Oklahoma 1992 Freedom USC 1991 Liberty Mississippi State
LAST UPDATED: December 4, 2012