Cal Football Video: Bears Defensive Coordinator Wants More Turnovers

Jake Curtis

A lot was expected of Cal’s defense this season, maybe too much.

With the Bears’ offense not projected to score many points, Cal’s defense was going to be asked to win games by itself, much like it did last year. Most of the key starters from last year are back this season, so there was plenty of optimism about what Cal’s defense could accomplish in 2019.

Cal's defense has done pretty well this season, but it is lacking in one key category.

“I think we’ve done decent in a few things, obviously the last two weeks we haven’t gotten it done,” Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said in the video. “Overall over the first six weeks I don’t think we’ve forced enough takeaways.” 

Indeed turnovers and defensive scores are the main difference from last year.

Last season, Cal forced 28 turnovers (2.15 per game) and ranked sixth in the nation in that category. More significant is that Cal scored five defensive touchdowns in 2018.

This season, the Bears have forced just nine turnovers (1.5 per game) and have not scored any defensive touchdowns.

The Bears intercepted 20 passes last season, ranking second in the country, but they have just three picks in 2019. The pass rush is about the same (2.38 sacks per game in 2018, 2.33 sacks per game this year), so the pressure on the opposing quarterback has not changed.

How important are turnovers? Well, Cal had three takeaways against Oregon in its last game, and despite being dominated for most of the contest, the Bears were in the game until the closing minutes.

DeRuyter says Cal defenders have the right mindset to force turnovers.

“If our guys will continue with that purpose of going after the ball, we’ll force more in the second half of the season,” he said.