Cal defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon found two words he believes aptly describe how the Bears played on that side of the line of scrimmage in their 42-30 win over Sacramento State last week.
“Consistently inconsistent,” he called it.
Cal allowed the FCS-level visitors to ring up 467 total yards and more points than scored 11 more points than they did in either of two previous games against Dixie State and Northern Illinois.
“At times we played football that we can all be proud of and up to the standard we have here,” Sirmon said. “And there’s been significant series where we’re just not playing up to — in my opinion — our capability.
“What we’ve been talking about this week is how can we play consistently together?”
The assignment figures to be much tougher Saturday night in Seattle, when the Bears (1-2) face defending Pac-12 North champion Washington. The Huskies lost their first two games but crushed Arkansas State 52-3 on Saturday to create some momentum heading into the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
Sirmon’s concern is his own squad. He said there isn’t one specific issue that needs addressing.
“A lot of the things you see it’s all of us in it. It’s the playcaller, it’s the front, it’s the linebackers, it’s the DBs,” he said. “It’s really a collective effort.”
Sirmon at a Monday defensive meeting that players and coaches talked about “shared responsibilities.”
Senior outside linebacker Cameron Goode, who has 30.5 career tackles for loss, including 16 sacks, didn’t add to either total against the Hornets. Cal’s defense, in fact, recorded zero sacks despite Sac State attempting 55 passes.
“Last week definitely lit a fire under our butts and I think we’ll come out better this week,” Goode said. “I was definitely upset. I know myself, I didn’t get as much pressure on the quarterback as I wanted to and that might have put a little stress on the DBs.
“I’m coming into this week hungry and knowing I need to be better.”
SIRMON’S SON FACES BEARS: Lining up at inside linebacker for the Huskies on Saturday night is someone Sirmon cheers for . . . most of the time. His son, Jackson Sirmon, leads Washington with 25 tackles, which is tied for fourth most in the Pac-12.
“He’s improved a lot. It is fun to watch him,” Peter Sirmon said. “He’s continued to be very invested in his body. He’s playing a more athletic style. It’s always fun to watch people you care about and you love in those situations.”
Peter and Jackson talk regularly, but they steer clear of anything that could be compromising to either program.
“The only counsel I give him is keep showing up,” Sirmon said. “It’s persistence. He’s got to keep banging away, keep battling away. You’ve got to fight your way out of a corner — no one’s ever going to let you out.”
UW’S POTENT LINEBACKER CORPS: Cal offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said Washington’s linebacking corps is the strength of the Huskies’ defense.
“They’re very experienced. Both those inside guys have played a lot of football,” he said, referring to fourth-year sophomore Jackson Sirmon and fifth-year senior Ryan Bowman, who has 25.5 career tackles for loss.
“They’re not fooled by much, if anything,” Musgrave said. “And then the outside guys are disrupters.”
The Huskies’ outside linebackers include second-year freshman Cooper McDonald and fourth-year sophomore Edefuan Ulofoshio, a preseason Bednarik and Nagurski award nominee.
Cover photo of Cameron Goode by Darren Yamashita, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo