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2011 California Preview
California WR Marvin Jones
California WR Marvin Jones
Posted Jun 15, 2011

Has California gone stale under Jeff Tedford or can the program take advantage of the new conference? The Bears are loaded with veterans and have the playmakers to turn things around, but will it all be enough to get past a loaded Oregon and a strong Stanford in the North? Check out the CFN 2011 California Preview.

California Golden Bears

Preview 2011

- 2011 California Preview | 2011 California Offense
- 2011 California Defense | 2011 California Depth Chart
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- By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Jeff Tedford
10th year: 72-42
Returning Lettermen
Off. 24, Def. 22, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best California Players
1. LB Mychal Kendricks, Sr.
2. OT Mitchell Schwartz, Sr.
3. P Bryan Anger, Sr.
4. LB D.J. Holt, Sr.
5. WR Keenan Allen, Soph.
6. S Sean Cattouse, Sr.
7. WR Marvin Jones, Sr.
8. DE Trevor Guyton, Sr.
9. RB Isi Sofele, Jr.
10. TE Anthony Miller, Sr.
2011 Schedule

Sep. 2 Fresno State
Sep. 10 at Colorado
Sep. 17 Presbyterian
Sep. 24 at Washington
Oct. 6 at Oregon
Oct. 13 USC
Oct. 22 Utah
Oct. 29 at UCLA
Nov. 5 Washington State
Nov. 12 Oregon State
Nov. 19 at Stanford
Nov. 26 at Arizona State

Now that Jeff Tedford has hit a wall, does the coach have what it takes to get his Bears over it?

Hey, Tedford has been the savior of the program for the past decade, guiding Cal out of the morass and into the national discussion. Bowl games are now the standard, attendance is up, and the facilities have been getting a facelift. However, even transformational figures can eventually wear out their welcome if they stick around long enough. Tedford is in danger of just such as fate after suffering his first losing season in Strawberry Canyon.

While every coach deserves a mulligan, Tedford had already entered 2010 with some concerns about the direction he was taking Cal. Perennial underachievers, the Bears last won 10 games in 2006 and last bowled in January two decades ago. Going 5-7, including a 48-14 loss in the Big Game, with a squad that had four players drafted only raised the temperature under his collar and made the upcoming season more crucial than ever.

Cal needs to rebound from last season in a big way or else changes might be inevitable. And as much as Tedford has become a lightning rod for criticism, the likelihood is that the program won’t find a better candidate to run things. The defense should be fine in 2011, even after losing a trio of stars to the NFL. Coordinator Clancy Pendergast turned this group into overachievers, and he retains enough talent to keep the Bears feisty.

A turnaround is going to be the responsibility of an offense that sputtered badly last fall and must retool the backfield. Quarterback, in particular, has been a nagging issue in these parts since Aaron Rodgers graduated in 2004. This year’s answer might be Zach Maynard, who last took a snap two years ago at Buffalo.

Cal has hit the skids at the same time that rival Stanford is soaring, a recipe for consternation and discontent around Berkeley. Now more than ever, Tedford needs to catch the rest of the Pac-12 napping and get back on the winning track before it gets too late.

What to watch for on offense: Isi does it. Over the past decade, the Bears have had few problems birthing 1,000-yard backs. Marshawn Lynch, J.J. Arrington, and Justin Forsett all did apprentice work in Berkeley. This fall, though, presents a thorny challenge after Shane Vereen opted to forego his final season of eligibility. In his wake is junior Isi Sofele, a 5-7, 188-pounder bucking to go from a change-of-pace to a starring role. An effective complement over the past two years, he’ll need to prove he can shoulder the load in a banged up backfield, especially as Cal attempts to break in a new quarterback as well.

What to watch for on defense: Cattouse on the loose. After flirting on the fringe of notoriety the past two years, senior S Sean Cattouse is poised to shed his anonymity. An athletic 6-2, 213-pounder, he packs the wallop of a linebacker, yet still does a nice job of playing centerfield in coverage. With NFL scouts watching closely and an opportunity to take his game to the next level in 2012, he’s set to play with a carrot hanging in front of him throughout the year.

The team will be far better if… the offense converts a much higher percentage of third downs. The Bears ranked 99th nationally a year ago, stalling on a regular basis and forcing Bryan Anger to punt 62 times. Ironically, the offense was sharp in the red zone, but too often went long stretches of time without reaching the other team’s 20-yard line. A higher degree of offensive efficiency is a must if Cal is going to avoid back-to-back losing seasons.

The Schedule: Can the Bears get hot early before dealing with a road trip to Washington? The Bears can’t afford to lose a game in the North early on with a road game to Oregon and USC to follow. Outside of possibly Colorado in the conference opener, there isn’t a true Pac-12 breather until November when Washington State comes to town, but that might be the ripe-for-the-picking game if Cal takes any sort of a breather. Beating Oregon State could be a must with road games at Stanford and Arizona State to close things out, but by then, there should be a nice base of wins to get a bowl game. Can there be a good run at the North title? Yes, but holding serve at home is a must and coming up with a road win at UCLA would be a huge help. When everyone looks back on the season, though, the Washington game really might be the make-or-break moment, even if it’s in late September.

Best offensive player: Senior OT Mitchell Schwartz. As the Bears regroup in the backfield, a lineman temporarily takes over as the offense’s most consistent performer. Fresh off an All-Pac-10 junior year, he’s looking at 2011 as a launching point to the NFL. A physically-imposing 6-5, 325-pounder, he can overpower linemen with his strength, yet is still light on his feet. Slated to start at right tackle, he could switch to the left side of the line if southpaw QB Zach Maynard gets the nod.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Mychal Kendricks. In a 3-4 defense, you simply can’t have too many playmakers at linebackers. Kendricks meets the qualifications. He was a force for the Bears last season, making 66 tackles and setting the team standard with 15 stops for loss, 8.5 sacks, and three fumble recoveries. A perfect fit for what coordinator Clancy Pendergast aims to achieve on this side of the ball, he operates in perpetual motion and has the instincts to take up squatter’s rights in the opposing backfield.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Zach Maynard. Cal is in desperate need of improved play behind center, an elusive quest over the past six seasons. Maynard has taken the lead in the three-man race to succeed inconsistent former Bear Kevin Riley. The most athletic passer that the program has had in some time, he sat out 2010 after transferring from Buffalo. He’ll be asked to hit the ground running in the fall, lighting a spark beneath an offense that produced more than 20 points in just two of the final nine games.

The season will be a success if ... the Bears win no fewer than seven regular season games. No, a 7-5 mark won’t satisfy the locals, but it will get Cal back in the postseason after falling short in 2010. While the first three games open the door for a possible fast start, the back end of the schedule is littered with enough landmines to keep the school from gaining much traction. The road slate includes trips to Seattle, Eugene, and Stanford, and home games will be played at AT&T park in San Francisco while Memorial Stadium is renovated.

Key game: Nov. 19 at Stanford. The Bears figure to be a heavy underdog, but need to deliver a more respectable showing, especially after getting axed, 48-14, at home last November. Now that Stanford has taken the lead in this rivalry, it’s incumbent upon Cal to narrow the divide and quiet the Cardinal faithful. If the underrated Bear D can derail QB Andrew Luck’s Heisman quest in front of the home crowd, even better.

2010 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Cal 34 – Opponents 23
- Yards per rush: Cal 4.4 – Opponents 3.6
- Second quarter scoring: Cal 65 - Opponents 85

- 2011 California Preview | 2011 California Offense
- 2011 California Defense | 2011 California Depth Chart
- California Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006