The California Golden Bears: Three Keys To Success

David HedlindAnalyst IIMay 2, 2009

This is the seventh in a 10-part series about what I see as three points that will contribute to the success or needs to be fixed for the success of each Pac-10 team.


Jahvid Best

With the nations rushing leaders gone on to the NFL, Best becomes the leading returning rusher in the entire country.

Early this year he had foot an elbow surgery which he is still rehabbing from. He did not practice this spring.

I doubt it will hurt him as he ran for 1580 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

The offense will be all about Best and establishing a running game which in turn will hopefully open up the passing.

Head coach Jeff Tedford is no idiot and knows that is what their opponents will be thinking and will use that to his advantage as the opponents stuff the box in hopes of containing Best, Tedford can then go to the air.


Quarterbacks Kevin Riley and Brock Mansion

Somehow, even though he has started games in each of the last two seasons, Kevin Riley hasn’t been named the official starting quarterback for Cal. And Nate Longshore isn’t the reason anymore.

The competition is coming from Brock Mansion and, to a lesser degree, Beau Sweeney. Mansion only made two appearances last season in blowout wins over Washington State and Washington.

In the spring game Riley went 8-13 for 80 yards. Mansion, on the other hand, went 8-11 and 90 yards with one touchdown and one interception. So it would appear that Mansion had the better spring.

With Longshore gone and Riley having the most experience, I would be surprised if he wasn’t named the starter in the fall. He has shown he can lead the team and win. Now he just needs to be able to win a little bit more.

No matter who wins the starting job, having Best in the back field will make things easier.



It would seem that the defense is going to be stronger in the pass defense than in the run defense

Senior corner Syd'Quan Thompson has been named to the early watch list for the 2009 Ronnie Lott Award. Thompson had 18 pass defenses, four picks and 14 pass deflections last season which led the team. He also served as a return man on special teams and averaged 12.3 yards per punt return.

Senior safety Marcus Ezeff is also back. He had three interceptions in 2008 and has been a solid player and starter for the Bears.

In the middle, starting linebackers Zach Follett, Anthony Felder and Worrell Williams are all gone. Cal will look to younger players such as Mike Mohamed and J.P. Hurrell, to fill the holes.

If the defense can get pressure up front and contain the run, the secondary should be able to handle most of the passes that come their way. If the young linebackers step up, California could have one of the stronger defenses in the conference.