Cal Football: 5 Players Who Will Make Names for Themselves in 2012
Coming off a mediocre 7-6 season and a 21-10 loss to Texas in the Holiday Bowl, Cal fans are expecting their team to steadily mature in time for the 2012 season.
With multiple starters leaving for the NFL, Cal's younger players have a lot to prove.
Riding off the high of the reopening of Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, expect these six players to make names for themselves in the 2012 campaign.
DE DeAndre Coleman
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Coleman's numbers were not off the charts by any metrics last season.
Over the 13 game season, Coleman accounted for 19 total tackles, including seven for a loss and three sacks.
With DE Cameron Jordan playing in New Orleans, there was a noticeable absence on Cal's dominant defensive line.
Expect DeAndre Coleman to apply more pressure to opposing offenses next season with a greater understanding of his role.
Heading into his junior season, many expect Coleman to really take off. When asked about his young defense, Coach Tedford even referred to Coleman as possibly the best defensive lineman he has ever had.
Having played behind players like Jordan and Trevor Guyton, this could be the year that Coleman asserts himself and pushes for all-conference honors as Cal's lead DE.
RB Isi Sofele
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Trying to fill the hole left by Shane Vereen, Sofele did a nice job rushing for 1,322 yards while scoring 10 touchdowns.
Outside of his bowl game, Sofele finished with over 100 yards in three of his last four games while scoring three TDs.
Against Washington State, Sofele ran for 138 yards, following that up with a 190 yard explosion against Oregon State, and 145 yards in Cal's regular season finale at Arizona State.
Last year there seemed to be a hole in the backfield without the ever-steady Vereen, as questions of Sofele's impact came to light.
With his strong finish, there is reason to believe that Sofele could push 1,500 yards rushing next year and establish himself as an elite running back in the Pac-12.
QB Zach Maynard
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Last year, Maynard just missed the 3,000 yard passing club, finishing at 2,990. Undeniably an upgrade over Kevin Riley, Maynard still showed deficiencies in his mechanics and decision making last season.
At times Maynard was indecisive on his passes or hesitant on his scrambles out of the pocket.
By the end of the season however, he showed great poise, playing extremely effectively in his final two regular season games.
In last season's Big Game at the hostile Stanford Stadium, Maynard threw 20/29 for 280 yards and two TDs in a near upset over Andrew Luck's Cardinal.
In his next game, Maynard went 19/26 for 237 yards and a touchdown in a 47-38 shootout win at Arizona State.
More familiar with his playbook and a year under his belt, expect Maynard to deliver better than his 57 percent completion percentage.
Matt Barkley and Keith Price have established themselves as elite Pac-12 quarterbacks. With more maturity and better patience, Maynard could enter that class with a stellar 2012 season.
RB CJ Anderson
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Last year the physical running back really came to his own down the stretch.
In limited carries, the Laney Community College transfer rushed for just 345 yards last season.
He found his role however, running all over opposing goal lines for eight rushing scores last year.
Anderson is in a position in which he can really bother opposing defenses. He and Sofele can account for a lethal hybrid backfield that could torment Pac-12 defenses next season.
With Sofele breaking off for long runs on the outside and Anderson leveling linebackers in the middle, Cal could become a deadly rushing squad.
If Tedford plays him in the right sets, expect Anderson to really make a name for himself as a bruising running back next season.
WR Keenan Allen
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To be fair, Allen has more than made a name for himself in his brief two year career at Cal.
As a junior, Cal's most dynamic offensive player will be looking to lead the Bears' aerial attack next season. Last year, Allen put up a stellar sophomore campaign with 98 receptions for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns.
Ironically however, his best games of the season were when Cal had to force the pass amidst a three game losing streak.
Nevertheless, Allen went over the century mark five different times last season, including a huge 197 yard game in a loss at Washington.
Matched up with solid secondaries, Allen still rose the challenge with 160 yards in a home loss against the Trojans and 170 yards in a blowout loss at Oregon.
With Marvin Jones in the pros, Allen should always find the best opposing DB lined up against him.
Still, better chemistry with Zach Maynard and another offseason to develop could have Allen in the upper echelon of WRs in the nation and a contender for next season's Biletnikoff Award.