Here's a look at five reasons why Cal fans should have a positive outlook for the 2011 season. There should be a WHOLE LOT to look forward to, especially after an abysmal 2010 season. And who knows, Tedford might pull an entire season together and produce a Pac 12 North title or even a Pac 12 Championship in about three to four years.
It's that time once again Cal football fans. Time to wonder how bad the quarterback position can be. Jeff Tedford has not produced a good college quarterback since Joey Harrington, a three year starter at Oregon. I'm sure many are taking a sigh of relief that both Kevin Riley and Nate Longshore are graduating this year—the best play either of them had was handing the ball off to Jahvid Best or Shane Vereen.
While many see this as a negative, I like to think of this as a positive. Hopefully, this means we start someone with presences of mind. Worst case scenario, the new quarterback will be able to hand the ball off to Isi Safele, the new starter at running back. Safele may only be 5' 9", but if there is anything the state of Oregon has shown the college football world, it's that small running backs work.
Last year Riley was horrendous in the five conference games he played. He threw only five touchdowns and three interceptions with two wins, against UCLA and ASU. Not great, to say the least. Without an incumbent quarterback, an offseason competition is being held. Hopefully Tedford can finally develop one of these guys to play like Aaron Rodgers has in the NFL.
Mehorrible Stadium is getting renovated and who knows, maybe some of the Giants Championship magic might rub off on the Cal Bears.
Some would argue that the Pac 12 North is the harder division of the two, I disagree. I believe it simply has more parity than the South. Without Jake Locker, Washington is still an unknown on how they will preform (methinks the same, Locker was never what he was praised to be). Oregon State seems to only be good for about two years then have to rebuild. Washington State, is, well, Washington State.
Stanford and Oregon are the only two true powerhouse teams. Stanford though, might fall on hard times when the second coming finally leaves. Plus Harbaugh was the true catalyst for recruiting those hard nosed lawyer, doctors and scientists. Cal's defense had put up a good fight against Oregon, but if the defensive game plan was really that good, it would not have let Oregon burn the last 9:30 off the game clock in an 18 play series that spanned 65 yards and let the Ducks inside the 20 yardline. I added that last part to illustrate the point that had Tevecchio made that Cal field goal, the Ducks still produced enough offense to possibly win the game.
But the Oregon game showed something that truly should have Cal fans cheering...
The Defense. Believe it or not they had an amazing defense...at times. That may have been because of their three play makers at each level: Cameron Jordan on the defensive line, Mike Mohamed at linebacker and Chris Conte at safety. Their defense gave up on average 22.6 points a games and kept eight opponents under 20 points but only managed to win five of those games. Don't get me wrong, those are good numbers, but since they only won five games, it's obvious that they carried the load at times. And when they carried the load, they cracked, like Nevada, USC, Stanford, and Washington. Clancy Pendergast has the right idea with stunts, slants and blitzing more than his predecessor Bob Gregory.
Not only do Cal fans get to celebrate one of their quarterbacks making the Super Bowl since Joe Kapp, but unlike Kapp, Rodgers would win. This is kind of a big deal, not because Cal fans get to celebrate an alum winning the biggest game on the biggest stage, they can look forward to what that SHOULD bring coach Jeff Tedford—recruits. Since Rodgers though, no quarterback has really developed and Cal has been somewhat of a "Running Back U" since. But with a win in the Super Bowl, Tedford has more point to pitch—the ability to develop pro-style quarterbacks.
With the age of the running or dual-threat quarterbacks rising, so few collegiate teams use a pro-style offense. And by pro-style, I mean one or two backs, one to two tight ends, and two to three wide receivers, with the quarterback under center. If young high school quarterbacks want to be playing in the NFL and be the true passing play callers pro teams are looking for, Tedford can finally hang his hat on Rodgers and his success.
Recruits, as a whole, do not mean much. Nobody wins an award or National Championship for getting the best recruits of the best recruiting class. Aaron Rodgers wasn't recruited out of high school and attended a JC for two years, then transferred to Cal.