Meet the coaches, part 2: Defense

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Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of Meet the Coaches, part 1: Offense and special teams

Andy Buh, Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers Coach:

While newly appointed head coach Sonny Dykes was hired primarily for his offensive prowess, his defensive unit at Louisiana Tech was ranked dead-last in college football in 2012. Meanwhile, Cal’s defense had its struggles as well, giving up almost 31 points per game last season.

Therefore, Dykes’ most important hire to his newly completed staff arguably was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Andy Buh, who will be tasked with shoring up the Bears’ defense to slow down the likes of Oregon and USC.

Buh — pronounced Boo — comes to Berkeley fresh off a trip to the Rose Bowl as he served as the linebackers coach for a Wisconsin team that fell to Stanford.

He’ll have another opportunity to solve Stanford’s pro-style offense — this time in the Big Game.

At Wisconsin, Buh played a key role in molding a Wisconsin defense that ranked 13th nationally in total defense.

This won’t be the first time he has served as a defensive coordinator, as Buh held the same position at Nevada for two seasons.

Buh was able to take a Nevada defense that ranked 91st overall in 2009 and transform it into a unit that ranked 54th in 2010 and 52nd in 2011.

Under Buh, Cal’s defense will not be expected to rely on gimmicks and confusion. Instead, look for Buh’s unit to be fundamentally sound in their technique and tackling.

Previously, Buh also held assistant defensive positions at Stanford, San Diego State, Fresno State and at Cal as a defensive administrative assistant from 2000 to 2001.

While the offseason hype will be directed toward the offense, Buh’s defense will a play a crucial role in putting Cal football back on the map.

— Sean Wagner-McGough

Barry Sacks, Defensive Line Coach:

The name would seem to fit the job description. Barry Sacks is Cal’s new defensive line coach, tasked with reviving a once fearsome unit that struggled in 2012.

Cal’s defense, which ranked second and third conference wide in sacks in 2010 and 2011, respectively, plummeted to the bottom half of the Pac-12 last season. The squad allowed about 130 rushing yards per game both in 2010 and 2011 but gave up nearly 170 a contest during this past 3-9 campaign.

In comes Sacks. He spent the last 11 years at Nevada — the past 10 coaching the defensive line — where he helped the Wolfpack reach eight consecutive bowl games.

Nevada’s defensive numbers, however, are a bit worrisome. The Wolfpack play an uptempo offense, so naturally defensive statistics would increase some. But the club gave up 212 rushing yards a game last season, the second-to-worst mark in the Mountain West.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

Garret Chacere, Defensive End Coach:

Of all the new hires, the hiring of Garret Chacere — pronounced Sash-er-RAY — as the defensive ends coach was the oddest hire of them all for mainly two reasons.

First, the defensive ends coach is a new coaching title. There was no such thing under Tedford. Second, Chacere has never coached defensive ends — in his 22-year coaching career, he has coached linebackers, wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, and defensive backs.

So why did Dykes bring in Chacere to Berkeley? Dykes had built a good relationship with Chacere when they worked together in the Northeast Louisiana and Arizona coaching staffs in 1998 and 2009, respectively.

To Dykes, Chacere was a jack-of-all-trades positional coach with a good recruiting record; at Tulane, he was responsible in recruiting current Chicago Bears running Matt Forte.

Expect Chacere’s main responsibilities to lie outside of the defensive end coaching position.

— Seung Y. Lee

Randy Stewart, Defensive Backs Coach:

Defensive backs coach Randy Stewart may sound like a familiar name. That’s because he’s been here before.

Stewart spent five years as a defensive backs coach for Cal from 1997-2001, where in 1999 he helped lead the best defense in the Pac-12 despite serving under former head coach Tom Holmoe.

From 2002 to 2011, he was a few hundred miles southeast of Cal at Fresno State, serving as a defensive coordinator for the final three years.

His most notable accomplishments include molding future Pro Bowl cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Deltha O’Neal while at Cal. Stewart will bring his developmental acumen to talented projects Kam Jackson and Stefan McClure.

Stewart is also known as a recruiting expert — part of his allure in the Dykes regime. As recently as 10 years ago, Stewart’s favorite movie was “Jaws”. Hopefully his defensive backs will have a killer instinct. Like sharks. Specifically in “Jaws.”

Michael Rosen

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