Cal Football: 5 Keys for an Offensive Resurgence for Golden Bears

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IIJuly 11, 2012

Cal Football: 5 Keys for an Offensive Resurgence for Golden Bears

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    Averaging just 28.3 points per game in 2011, the California Golden Bears finished a mediocre 7-6 for a banal and middle-of-the-pack finish in the Pac-12.

    The Bears scored over 30 points just six times last season, with two of those games coming against lowly Fresno State and Presbyterian in non-conference season openers.

    Raw talent behind center, in the backfield and on the outside gives the Bears the potential to lead Berkeley through an offensive Renaissance next season. In order to succeed in the top-heavy Pac-12, Cal will need to improve on its running, passing and special teams next season.

    Here are the five keys for the Bears to have an offensive resurgence in 2012.

Consistency in the Backfield

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    Coming off of career years, running backs Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson need to continue producing at a high level.

    The Bears sport one of the most dynamic backfields in the nation, with the agile Sofele complemented nicely by the bruising Anderson.

    Since 2009, the baton has been passed from elite Cal running backs Jahvid Best to Shane Vereen and now to Sofele.

    Despite putting up 1,322 yards last season, Sofele was a just footnote compared to his counterparts Washington's Chris Polk and Oregon's LaMichael James.

    Sofele needs to be a premiere back in the conference in 2012 if the Bears are to have an explosive offense.

    Anderson also needs to have consistent production outside of the red zone, and become a routine threat to terrorize opposing defenses.

Good Decision Making from Zach Maynard

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    Last season, quarterback Zach Maynard often looked overwhelmed.

    Indecisive and baited by defenses, Maynard lost his poise and forced the ball into tight spots.

    The result was discouraging for the Bears, as Maynard finished the season with a QB rating of just 82.0, while throwing 17 touchdowns to a resounding 12 interceptions.

    Maynard's 57.0 completion percentage was disappointing as well, and he will need to step up if Cal is to find offensive success next season.

    The southpaw should stay patient in the pocket and utilize his quickness on broken plays. 

    The pressure is on, as the offense starts with Maynard behind center.

Production from the Receivers

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    Outside of stud junior Keenan Allen, the Bears don't offer much at receiver.

    Marvin Jones is in the NFL and the Bears will be looking for true freshman Maurice Harris to shine alongside Allen.

    Maynard should hook up with Allen early and often throughout next season, but the plays designed by the coaching staff will be just as key to the Bears success.

    Head coach Jeff Tedford needs to dial up the right plays to maximize the potential for the big play from Allen and Co.

    Short passes over the middle and long passes to the outside could be the recipe for success next season. The play action will also be critical, putting even more pressure on Cal's running game.

Improvements in the Return Game

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    In 2012, the Bears experimented with different return men from Keenan Allen to tailback Brendan Bigelow.

    Ranked 85th in the nation in kick return yards last season, the Bears averaged just 20.0 yards per return on kickoffs and only 5.8 yards per return on punts (via

    In terms of total return yards, Cal finished ninth in the conference and only above Stanford in the Pac-12 North.

    The Bears have been in search of a special teams spark since DeSean Jackson left for the NFL in 2008.

    With Cal's offensive issues, the Bears need to put an emphasis on starting with good field position.

    A renewed focus on returns and special teams will be crucial for the Bears in 2012.

Someone Else Needs to Step Up

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    The Bears don't feature the deepest or most consistent roster in the Pac-12.

    Outside of Zach Maynard, Isi Sofele, Keenan Allen and C.J. Anderson, the offense has some pretty gaping holes at the skill positions.

    Simply, the Bears are in serious need of a breakout star in 2012.

    Whether it's tight end Spencer Hagan, wide receiver Maurice Harris, tailback Brendan Bigelow or a different player, the Bears need someone to step up.

    In a reloaded Pac-12 that is as good as ever, Cal needs consistent production across the field in order for its offense to succeed in 2012.