Oct 6, 2011; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running back De

Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: California Golden Bears (Part 2: Defense)

The California defense will need to step up if they would like to be taken more seriously in the Pac-12 this season. In their six losses last season, the Golden Bears gave up an average of 31.2 points with their worst game defensively coming against the Oregon Ducks when they lost by a score of 43-15. On the other hand, they only gave up 18.1 points in their seven wins with their closest win coming in a 36-33 overtime game against Colorado.

During this spring, the Golden Bears lost eight players on defense with six of them being starters during the 2011 season. The two most important players leaving the Cal defense going into this year are  Trevor Guyton (defensive lineman) and Mychal Kendricks (linebacker).

Both Guyton and Kendricks will be missed by the Golden Bears in 2012. Kendricks led the team in total tackles with 107 total tackles and Guyton was sixth on the team with 46 total tackles. The most important part that both of these players brought to the table was their ability to make the tackle in the backfield. Kendricks was first on the team in tackles for loss as he had 14.5 of them (59 yards) and Guyton was second on the team in tackles for loss with 12 of them (49 yards). They could both get after the quarterback as well. Guyton led the team in sacks last season with 5.5 of them (32 sack yards) while Kendricks only had three sacks, but averaged ten yards per sack. Guyton also had two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries last season.

Both of these players were selected by NFL teams this past April. Mychal Kendricks was taken in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Trevor Guyton was selected in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Kendricks signed with the Eagles while Guyton still remains unsigned by the Vikings.

With a bunch of key players leaving this spring, Cal will need to find new players to rely on in 2012. One of these players has to be Josh Hill. During his junior season in 2011, Hill started six games and was fifth on the team in total tackles with 49 tackles. He also had three tackles for loss (11 yards) and one sack (four yards) last season. Hill was also a big disruptor of passes last season as he had two interceptions (32 return yards) and broke up five passes as well.

Hill will need to step up as a leader on defense for the California Golden Bears and prove to the world that Cal is ready to make the jump from mediocre Pac-12 team to Pac-12 championship contender.

For more stories on Cal, check out Golden Bear Lair.

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Tags: 2012 NFL Draft California Football California Golden Bears Colorado Ducks General Golden Bears Josh Hill Minnesota Vikings Mychal Kendricks NFL Draft Pac-12 Pac-12 Conference Philadelphia Eagles Trevor Guyton

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