Cal Football: Why CJ Anderson Will Be Golden Bears' Star in 2012

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IIJuly 30, 2012

Cal Football: Why CJ Anderson Will Be Golden Bears' Star in 2012

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    Featuring some solid weapons in wide receiver Keenan Allen, running back Isi Sofele and quarterback Zach Maynard, the California Golden Bears have some nice playmakers on offense.

    Coming off of a disappointing 21-10 loss to Texas in the Holiday Bowl, the Bears are looking for a breakout year in 2012. 

    With tough tests on the horizon, including road games at Ohio State and USC, the Bears will require exceptional play from their offense and defense to make a run at the Pac-12 North crown.

    Enter running back CJ Anderson, a rising senior who has flown largely under the radar behind Sofele in the backfield.

    While it is likely that the Bears' Pac-12 championship hopes will not hinge on Anderson alone, the running back's offensive success could have the Bears surprising in 2012.

    Here is why Anderson will be one of Cal's stars in 2012.

Increased Chemistry in the Backfield

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    Isi Sofele is still the Bears' starting running back and should continue to aid in breaking opposing defenses open.

    As last season progressed, Sofele and Anderson developed some nice chemistry, comprising a lethal hybrid backfield for the Bears.

    The Bears' 23-6 victory over Oregon State was a perfect example of the running backs' mutual success.

    Sofele broke down the Beavers' run defense, carrying the ball 23 times for 190 yards and a score.

    Anderson benefited from Sofele's huge game, carrying the ball 14 times for 96 yards.

    The Bears will be looking for similar running success in 2012. Giving Anderson more touches can only make this running attack harder to stop.

Touchdowns

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    CJ Anderson finished the 2011 season with eight rushing touchdowns, just two less than team leader Isi Sofele.

    Despite having nearly 1,000 less rushing yards than Sofele (1,322 to 345), Anderson was the Bears' goal line force on offense.

    Given the success of star running backs Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen and now Sofele, head coach Jeff Tedford has made this program a run-first attack.

    With a multitude of offensive weapons, the Bears are in a nice position to put up numbers. Anderson should benefit from the offensive success of his teammates, and capitalize on it en route to a career year in 2012.

Zach Maynard-Keenan Allen Connection

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    Connecting well throughout the season with receiver Keenan Allen, QB Zach Maynard will be looking to sustain his chemistry with the Bears' best wideout in 2012.

    The duo's offensive success was on full display in a 31-28 loss to Stanford last season.

    Maynard converted 69 percent of his passes for 280 yards and two scores. Allen finished with a game high 97 receiving yards and a touchdown.

    Effective passing games also opened up the run, allowing both Isi Sofele and CJ Anderson to pick up rushing scores in last season's Big Game.

    If Maynard and Allen have big seasons in 2012, don't be surprised to see Sofele and Anderson put up big numbers as well.

Flying Under the Radar

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    Unlike Sofele or Allen, Anderson won't have a target on his back heading into the 2012 season.

    Opposing defenses will try to target the run, but most of the scouting reports will be focused on limiting Sofele rather than stopping Anderson.

    In terms of the passing game, defensive lines will continue to put the pressure on Maynard in the pocket in order to stymie the home run option for Allen.

    With defenses focusing elsewhere, Anderson should step up as a threat for the Bears on offense.