Saturday, February 27, 2010

SF Chronicle: 4-3 or 3-4? New coordinator is flexible

Ron Kroichick


Clancy Pendergast, Cal's defensive coordinator, likes the 3-4 alignment - but he's also not wedded to the concept.  That became clear Thursday in Pendergast's first interview since his hiring at Cal. The Bears switched from the 4-3 to the 3-4 two years ago, with mixed results so far.  "I don't want to be pigeonholed," Pendergast told a handful of reporters at Memorial Stadium. "You have to have a little of both. ... Based on the number of athletes we have at linebacker, (3-4) is something that might fit the guys we have. Spring ball will give us a better idea of what we can sink our teeth into."

Pressed on his plans, Pendergast later said, "My background in the NFL has been geared to the 3-4 alignment. I think it allows you to have more athletes on the field, and you can be more multiple (in formations) depending on the outside pass rushers."  Cal's defensive philosophy is relevant, and not only because the Bears struggled on that side of the ball last season. They also targeted linebackers in their recruiting - and landed one of the top groups in the country, highlighted by five-star prospect Chris Martin.  The Bears begin spring practice March 11, so Pendergast is scrambling to prepare. The Raiders hired him as a defensive assistant earlier this month, a position he held for less than two weeks - until Jeff Tedford tapped him last week to replace Bob Gregory as defensive coordinator.  It's a significant hire, especially because Gregory is the only defensive coordinator Tedford has had in his eight seasons at Cal. Pendergast, 42, spent six seasons as an NFL defensive coordinator, five with Arizona (2004-08) and then last year with Kansas City. He expects some transition in dealing with student-athletes again - he coached in college in the early 1990s - but otherwise figures tackling is still tackling.

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