Spaulding Report: Clancy Pendergast Joins UCLA Coaching Staff
The biggest news of the day is almost an afterthought.
After having Monday off, the Bruins resumed practice yesterday. There were two big pieces of news yesterday.
As far as the players go, the big news yesterday, according to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Times, was the fact that Dorian Thompson-Robinson was “unavailable.” She notes that the “vague phrase” is “UCLA’s catch-all reason for all absences during the past year so coaches wouldn’t have to distinguish between players missing time for coronavirus-related quarantines and injuries.”
In his absence, Chase Griffin was running the first team offense.
At this point, we’ll just have to wait to see if DTR’s absence becomes a multi-day situation.
The biggest piece of news mentioned in Nguyen’s article is that former Southern Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has joined the UCLA coaching staff as an analyst. He has been with the team for a few weeks, according to the article.
That should help further improve a defense which was much improved last season. The team jumped from 102nd in the nation in total defense in 2019 to 69th last season. The addition of Pendergast, who some have called a “genius,” should improve that even more.
This move reunites Pendergast with defensive line coach Johnny Nansen who served in the same capacity under Pendergast at Southern Cal.
Meanwhile, after practice yesterday, Coach Brian Norwood met with the media. Norwood spoke about how much the COVID year affected a lot of things. He really summed up everything which occurred since the pandemic hit quite well. He said:
You take a new coach coming in…implementing with Coach Azz some new defensive schemes…not really having spring ball…really just having a short period of time…a couple of days and then guys doing a great job of learning all this via Zoom…learning it then on Zoom sessions. We're not practicing…not Spring ball. So then again, going into a a season where they were learning me and I was learning them. So, there was a lot of learning going on. I couldn't tell you who were the best tacklers going into our first game because we had to make sure that we were together from a sports performance standpoint…given time to make sure we're ready physically to go and then going into a season with guys and going to new things. So, last Spring and all the statistics and all that stuff was tremendous and learning new things. but it's so much with this year just having guys that you've worked a year through. You've been through Spring ball. Now, we're going into a fall camp where we're seeing guys all the time. That I think gives us a better chance.
He also addressed how the players are holding each other accountable both on the field and off. He spoke about it really beginning in the weight room during the off-season and how it’s progressed onto the field now in camp. He said:
I don't have to say anything because Blaylock and other guys are holding guys accountable. So, it's just raising the bar. They understand last year that it was inches. We had a chance in every game. There wasn't the game that we played we didn't have a chance to win and we’ve got to find a way to be victorious and victorious, as I say, is when you learn from those things that are challenging and now you go out and pursue those little things that allow you opportunities to win.
That actually almost sounds Woodenesque.
Here’s Coach Norwood’s complete interview, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
Hearing Coach Norwood speak explains why the defense improved so much last year. It will be interesting to see exactly what happens when Coach Norwood and new Coach Pendergast work together to continue the team’s improvement on defense.