#51 California Football 2013 Preview

California Golden Bears

Overall Rank: #51
#9 Pac-12

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Big changes are in store at California as Coach Sonny Dykes tries to turn the program into consistent competitors in the Pac-12. That will take some time. The Golden Bears will benefit from the no-huddle offense the new regime will implement sooner or later. At first it may catch some of the Pac-12 competition off guard, but the Golden Bears do not really have the talent to pull it off too successfully right away. On the other side of the ball, Cal is switching to a 4-3 defense. Again, it will take time to find the right players to fit the scheme.

2012 Record: (3-9, 2-7)
2012 Bowl: None
Coach: Sonny Dykes (0-0 at California, 22-15 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tony Franklin
Defensive Coordinator: Andy Buh

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Brendan Bigelow, RB, 431 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Chris Harper, WR, 544 yards
Tackles: Nick Forbes, LB, 85
Sacks: Chris McCain, DE, 3.5
Interceptions: Michael Lowe, S, 3; Kameron Jackson, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: TE Richard Rodgers, WR Bryce Treggs, OL Jordan Rigsbee, OL Chris Adcock, DE Brennan Scarlett, DT Deandre Coleman, LB Jalen Jefferson

Key Losses: RB C.J. Anderson, RB Isi Sofele, QB Zach Maynard, WR Keenan Allen, DB Josh Hill, DB Steve Williams, LB Robert Mullins

At the least, the offense should be fun to watch and it will certainly be interesting to see how quickly they develop. Quarterbacks Jared Goff, Zach Kline and Austin Hinder are battling it out for the starting job. Goff is a true freshman who was on campus during the spring. His big advantage, other than the fact that he is a pretty good quarterback, is that he was brought in by Coach Dykes. Redshirt freshman Zach Kline was a big pickup for Cal last year, but he, like Hinder, has to learn the new system. No matter who wins the job, the Bears will get more production out of their signal caller this season. Wide receiver Keenan Allen is gone, yet sophomores Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper are ready to pick up the slack. Both are coming off of solid freshmen campaigns and will be the new go-to-receivers. In this offense, other receivers will need to step up as well since more often than not there will be four wideouts. Keep an eye on former tight end Richard Rodgers. He caught 20 passes for 288 yards as a sophomore and is a nice big target for the new quarterbacks as long as he can effectively move out into the slot. The hopes are high at running back too where Brendan Bigelow hopes to take over. Bigelow was limited to 44 carries a year ago since he is not a bruiser of a back and was a bit slow picking up the offense. Yet, he is an explosive playmaker and Cal will want to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. It is quite likely that a bigger back like Daniel Lasco will need to see a significant amount of carries as well.

The offense has potential, but it will all go away quickly if the offensive line does not improve. A year ago the unit allowed 41 sacks. While the Pac-12, in general, was great at getting to the quarterback last season and UCLA, Colorado and Washington State were among the five teams who allowed more sacks on the year than Cal, it still is a number that has to improve. A new quarterback and a bad offensive line is never a good combination. The defense has to move Brennan Scarlett and Chris McCain to the end spots after spending a couple years as linebackers. They will join senior nose tackle Deandre Coleman on what is an experienced line. It just remains to be seen if they can be productive in their new roles. Nick Forbes, who totaled 85 tackles in 2012, will be the new leader of the linebackers. Jalen Jefferson has starting experience as well and Khairi Fortt, a transfer from Penn State, should step right in and turn the linebackers into the strongest unit on the defense. The secondary may be the biggest concern for the Golden Bears. The unit as a whole ranked 11th in the conference, allowing 271.92 yards through the air per game. However, most of those players are gone. Cornerback Stefan McClure has not played in nearly two years due to injuries, but he is a good talent. Kameron Jackson has potential on the other side. Both need to find a way to be consistent if the defense is going to be too much better than last year.

The Bottom Line:
This is not a horrible Cal team, but reaching a bowl will be tough. The element of surprise is nice, but it will not be enough to win six games on a schedule that includes Northwestern, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford. There is not much margin for error, nor is there much time to get on a roll. Three of the Bears’ first four games are against the Wildcats, Buckeyes and Ducks. That is going to be rough. It gets much easier, although by November Cal’s lack of overall depth may prove to be their undoing.

Projected Bowl: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 183.00 (42nd in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 208.25 (87, 9)
Total Offense: 391.25 (69, 7)
Scoring Offense: 23.00 (91, 10)
Rushing Defense: 169.33 (70, 9)
Pass Defense: 271.92 (104, 11)
Total Defense: 441.25 (93, 10)
Scoring Defense: 33.08 (96, 9)
Turnover Margin: -0.58 (96, 10)
Sacks: 2.33 (38, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 3.42 (115, 9)

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#197 Jared Goff


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