Rankings via Football Outsiders- To see each year, utilize the drop downs at the top of the page.
Trojan fans love the system that Clancy Pendergast runs because it is an attacking defense that aims to generate pressure using multiple looks. Most of the response was positive amongst both the media and former players. But how effective are his defenses really?
|Clancy Pendergast Defense S&P+ Ranks
|Std Downs S&P+
|Pass Downs S&P+
That 2013 defense looks pretty great in hindsight, this also includes giving up 62 points to ASU which lead to Lane Kiffin being famously fired at LAX however it wasn't on the tarmac as everyone had thought. That aside, look at those numbers! The only thing that resembles a weakness, not even much of one, was the performance against the running game.
OFFICIAL: Clancy Pendergast, who led USC's best defense in the past 7 seasons, to return as defensive coordinator. pic.twitter.com/g58Iey2wUi— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) January 12, 2016
Everyone knows that season was great and was the main fuel to the fire of USC fans being upset when Sark chose the now deposed Justin Wilcox over him. However, as great as that season was, Clancy was the DC at Cal before he held that title at USC and the numbers aren't nearly as kind.
The highest ranking Cal defense had during his tenure was 2011, a year that showed a weakness on passing downs (2nd and 8+, 3rd and 5+ yards to go). The 26th overall ranked defense while good, isn't nearly as great as the the USC press release may want you to believe.
The argument USC fans might make is "well cal's recruits aren't as good as USC's" while that might apply, it's not like Cal's recruiting classes (using Scout.com) were terrible 35th in 2010, 16th in 2011, and 39th in 2012. Yes USC's were better in every year but as we've seen in the recent past recruiting rankings aren't guaranteed barometers of success. As a USC fan do I hope the 2013 defense is indicative of future performance? Of course I do. I also do see that the numbers raise some obvious questions. One being while in the top quarter of defenses in Rushing S&P+, it can be said that stopping the run is a weakness for the Pendergast system and while the Pac-12 is famous for throwing the ball teams like Stanford and Oregon are rushing powerhouses as of late.
I don't want to say that Clancy Pendergast was the wrong choice, I personally would've preferred new LSU DC Dave Aranda, but I think the general notion that Pendergast is here to save the day is one that USC fans should caution themselves on believing.