Cal Bears: Season Preview
Those Teddy Bears have not been as cuddly in recent memory. Unfortunately, when you are not winning, you’re not as popular or important for that matter. Cal head coach Jeff Tedford knows all about winning and losing, though losing is not a part of his genes. He has a record of 72-42 through ten seasons and is one of only two active coaches in the Pac12 currently in his tenth year or more (Riley-11).
Tedford is known for developing and making the best out of his quarterback’s. He has coached eight of them into the NFL and seven as future NFL starters as he was offensive coordinator at Fresno State (’93-‘97) and Oregon (’98-‘01), in addition to his time coaching Cal since '01.
Teddy is the same guy who led Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kyle “I wish I were A” Boller, and Aaron “The Champ” Rodgers. Billy Volek and AJ Feeley were once under Tedford as well—back in the day. A lot of those good quarterbacks were the main reason why Tedford has had so much success in the Pac-12. In fact, in the past ten years Cal has the fourth best record in conference at 44-41.
In the past five years they are still fourth with a record of 24-21. They have consistently been above .500 in conference play and have pretty much dominated the non-conference slate going 28-9 during the Tedford era.
Running Back U!!!
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Teddy has developed more than just quarterbacks, by the way. He has recruited some stud runners too. It really is amazing when you think about some of the NFL players that have gone through Cal.
Shane Vereen, Justin Forsett, Marshawn Lynch, Jahvid Best, and JJ Arrington were the collegiate studs he has recruited to come to Berkeley. It helps recruiting when every single year there is a player moving onto play on Sunday’s!
This year may finally take a slight turn for the worst as this is the first season since ’03 where there is an experienced stud in the backfield. Isi Sofele (5’7, 188 lbs, Junior) or Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson (5’11, 225 lbs, Junior) both figure to split carries when the season starts.
CDJ was the far more talented player coming into Cal because he was an every down type of back as a big brusier, whereas Sofele was more of a change of pace back. Sofele however, has gotten a bit faster over the summer and may become the next stud at Cal.
Next NFL Star at WR?
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There is a theme in this preview. Cal is loaded with NFL players every few years. DeSean Jackson is essentially the lone current NFL wide receiver as far as a starter, but some think Marvin Jones (6’2, 200 lbs, Senior) and Keenan Allen (6’3, 202 lbs, Sophomore) are next in line.
Jones has started for the past two seasons and is coming off a 50 catch, 765 yard, 4 TD season. He earned Second Team honors and figures to make those honors again if Cal can find ways to get him the ball. Allen had 5 TDs and 46 catches though his yardage was down at just 490 for the season!
Still, he was only a Freshman and had a fine season. Michael Calvin is the third receiver and tight end Anthony Miller is next in line to see the ball downfield. So, who the hell is going to throw them the damn ball?
The Next "Champ"
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Well, that looks like it is going to be former Buffalo Bull quarterback Zach Maynard. He completed 57 percent of his passes at Buffalo and threw 18 TDs compared to his 15 INTs two seasons ago.
Maynard had to sit out a year due to the transfer rules. In line to start if Maynard gets dinged up would be big Brock Mansion (6’5, 234 lbs, Senior) or Allan Bridgford (6’3, 208 lbs, Sophomore).
The line figures to be in the middle of the Pac-12 as far as overall talent thanks in large part to right tackle Mitchell Schwartz who has been a three year starter. At 6’5, 325 lbs he is a typical sized NFL tackle and he looks to be drafted next season.
The rest of the line is a bit questionable though; both of their guards return, which is key for running right at the teeth of the opposition. Overall, this line is solid, but far from spectacular because they could use more experience or have a stud left tackle or center which is vital in college football.
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The defense returns five starters and luckily they return two of their top four tacklers and six of their top eight. The linebacking core is always amongst the best in the Pac-12 because they have a few ferocious speedsters who can lay the wood on you.
DJ Holt will continue that tradition alongside one of the best linebackers in the Pac-12. Mychal Kendricks is a stud linebacker that can roam sideline to sideline and his 66 tacklesand 8.5sacks last season backs his play up.
Cecil Whiteside is a redshirt Freshman and is expected to be the other starter. He was highly touted coming out of high school, as Rivals listed him as the fourth best OLB and the thirty-eighth best player in the entire nation back in 2010.
Back to Holt and Kendricks— this duo may be one of the better duo’s in America and they are arguably the best duo of linebackers in the Pac-12, minus Stanford’s Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov.
Will the Star Studded Front Continue?
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The run defense has been 23rd and 35th the past two seasons because of the linebacking core.
Defensive end Cameron Jordan was a freak last year and defensive end/tackle Tyson Alualu two years ago wreaked havoc on what was formerly known as the Pac-10.
This year they have just one starter back and it is defensive end DeAndre Coleman who is just a Sophomore. He had a decent redshirt Freshmen season but the best linemen on the team may be tackle Trevor Guyton (former OL) who had 4.5 sacks and 4 tackles for losses a season ago.
In the secondary they ranked 21st in America thanks in large part to soon to be Senior safety Sean Cattouse. His seven pass break-ups led the team and he will play a key role throughout the season.
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The Bears have never had an eleven win season nor have they ever reach a BCS Bowl. That is hard to imagine with all of the former All-Americans and current day NFL players they once had.
Cal has been dealt a much tougher road because there will likely not be much of a home field advantage in 2011. The schedule may not be that difficult, but it is much tougher knowing that not as many students or fans will be making the trip to AT&T Park (75,662) while Memorial Stadium is being renovated.
That is a tough pill to swallow for Bear nation especially if they are home once again for the Holidays. Starting out 3-0 right out of the gates against Fresno State, Presbyterian, and Colorado (non-conference does not go down as Pac-12 games) would be a plus.
Then they travel to Huskie Stadium against the Locker-less Washington Huskies and it would not be a far fetch to see them starting out at 4-0; though I think the Huskies could be a darkhorse.
They get a bye before the meat of their schedule meets and greets them. Oregon (Autzen) and USC (home) will be nearly impossible to pull off though they nearly knocked off the Ducks at home last year. They then get Utah at home before they travel to LA against the Bruins.
A few winnable home games against Washington State and Oregon State should give the Golden Bears bowl aspirations once again, as long as they decide on which quarterback to play.
Predicted Finish: 7-6, 4-5
Predicted Bowl: BBVA Compass Bowl
Predicted order of finish in Pac12: Fourth in North, Eighth in Pac 12