#79 California Football 2014 Preview

California Golden Bears

Overall Rank: #79
#11 Pac-12

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California will want to put their first year under Coach Sonny Dykes behind them as quickly as possible. The Golden Bears beat Portland State 37-30 in their second game of the season and that was basically the only close contest they played in all year long. The rest of the games were bad losses. But that was a young team. This group is getting better, but they may not win more than one game in 2014 either.

2013 Record: (1-11, 0-9)
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Sonny Dykes (1-11 at California, 23-26 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tony Franklin
Defensive Coordinator: Art Kaufman

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Khalfani Muhammad, RB, 445 yards
Passing: Jared Goff, QB, 3,508 yards
Receiving: Chris Harper, WR, 852 yards
Tackles: Michael Lowe, S, 67
Sacks: Jalen Jefferson, LB, 3.0; Kyle Kragen, DE, 3.0
Interceptions: 3 tied with 1

Other Key Returnees: RB Daniel Lasco, WR Bryce Treggs, CB Cameron Walker, LB Hardy Nickerson, LB Michael Barton, P Cole Leininger

Key Losses: RB Brendan Bigelow, WR Richard Rodgers, LB Khairi Fortt, DL Deandre Coleman

Few know how to groom a quarterback like Coach Dykes. Jared Goff showed plenty of promise as a freshman, throwing for 3,508 yards and 18 touchdowns. Goff has those things to learn that most young quarterbacks do, most notably decision making and making quality pre-snap reads. That will all come with time. In this offense Goff is going to put up big numbers either way, but can certainly be more efficient and effective. Receivers Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs and Kenny Lawler are all back after productive 2013 seasons. Goff will spread the ball around a lot, so the hope is somebody will emerge as a more dangerous threat down the field at some point this season. The offensive line was a mess last year. Some of that had to do with an injury to center Chris Adcock. He needs to stay healthy if Goff has any chance of staying on his feet. It would also help the ground game if the line can give anybody some room to operate. Speedster Khalfani Muhammad rushed for 467 yards and four touchdowns on just 74 carries. Daniel Lasco added 317 yards and Cal will need him to be a more physical back that can pick up the tough yards.

Even though the Cal offense scored just 23 points per game, the defense was much worse. No team in the country allowed more yards through the air than the Golden Bears. The team also ranked 122nd, out of 123 teams, in total defense, scoring defense and turnover margin. Obviously the defense has a lot of problems and there is little hope of much improvement. One place Cal could get better is in the pass rush department. Brennan Scarlett played well in 2012, yet missed last season with an injury. He will man one of the end spots. The other end spot is up for grabs, while Cal barely has any options in the middle of the line. That complete lack of depth will cause some huge problems for the defense. At linebacker, Cal is terribly young and inexperienced. Sophomore Hardy Nickerson is the leader of the unit after tallying 64 tackles as a freshman.

The Bottom Line:
Even while this team is going to get better, the Cal schedule is absolutely brutal. After losing at home to Northwestern last season, the Golden Bears may not have much luck in Evanston to open up the year. The next three games will be very telling for Cal; however, against Sacramento State the Bears should gain a little momentum to carry into the road trip to Arizona. Cal played the Wildcats pretty close last year, so they might be able to do the same. But perhaps the best shot at finally picking up a conference win comes the following week against Colorado. After that, barring a major surprise, Cal will go winless through October and November.

Projected Bowl: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 122.2 (107th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 331.4 (10, 3)
Total Offense: 453.6 (34, 6)
Scoring Offense: 23.0 (96, 12)
Rushing Defense: 188.6 (86, 10)
Pass Defense: 341.0 (123, 12)
Total Defense: 529.6 (122, 12)
Scoring Defense: 45.9 (122, 12)
Turnover Margin: -1.3 (122, 12)
Sacks: 1.50 (99, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 3.00 (110, 12)

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#175 Erik Brown


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