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California Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
California Golden Bears
Posted Aug 8, 2006

California Golden Bears Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – “Dark Horse” – Throughout the pre-season, shoot, throughout the regular season, count how many times you hear the words “Dark Horse Heisman candidate”.  Also, count the number of times the preceding words are followed with “Marshawn Lynch”.  Well, as ‘nice’ as that might be, let’s be clear – lose the “Dark Horse” rhetoric.  This kid is a legitimate Heisman candidate – Dark Horse is another way of saying he plays on the West Coast and no one sees him play.  Well, if that’s the case, you’re missing out.  Had Lynch been healthy throughout the 2005 season, 1,500 yards in an 11 game season would’ve been a distinct possibility.  Lynch might be the most complete running back anywhere not including, arguably, Norman, Oklahoma.  That’s not blasphemy, Lynch is power, speed, vision and explosion in a 5’11”/225 package that has blasted through defenses for the past two years.  After he was hurt last season, people forgot all about Lynch, but he was magnificent the rest of the season.  In the final eight games of the year, Lynch rolled up over 1,000 yards on only 167 carries (nearly a 6 yard per carry average) and nine touchdowns.  BYU is still trying to tackle him after what he did to them in the Las Vegas Bowl.  Although he ‘works’ on the West Coast, don’t forget about #10 in the blue and gold, you’d hate to miss a ‘real’ Heisman candidate in action in 2006.

2nd and Seven – Don’t Look Here – Throughout the Pac-10, the ball flies through the air more often than in any other major college football conference.  There’s no scientific research on that note, just a gut feeling.  That being said, Cal should feel confident that the passing games that they’ll see this fall won’t give them much problem.  Reason?  Their two corners Daymeion Hughes and Tim Mixon are returning to DC Bob Gregory’s defense.  The two manning the perimeter are accomplished, smart, and savvy, not to mention the fact that they are the best pair of corners in the Pac-10.  As a result, their presence allows Gregory to open the playbook and let his experienced and talented front seven get after the QB.  Teams may not want to look outside the numbers this year when playing this Cal defense.  Hughes and Mixon are there.

3rd and Three – 18 Returning Starters, Potential Title Dreams, 1 Big Question Mark – How many teams over the history of college football have been loaded to the gills with players, except at the quarterback position, and it’s cost them dearly?  Probably too many to name.  So, let’s see, Cal has 18 starters returning.  Potential to dethrone USC from the top of the Pac-10.  And, well, QB issues.  Ouch.  Well, it could be worse; at least, the top three on the depth chart all have seen time behind center.  The irony is that the one guy who spent the least time on the field is the projected starter – Nate Longshore.  All indications are that Longshore gives the Golden Bears the best opportunity to reach that lofty goal of winning the Pac-10 championship.  If the QB spot turns into musical chairs, forget it, another trip to Las Vegas might be in order.  But, if Longshore stays healthy, spreads the ball around to Lavelle Hawkins, Robert Jordan and future All-American DeSean Jackson and gives the ball to Marshawn, the Golden Bears won’t be on ‘that’ list.

4th and One – From Strawberry Canyon to the BCS?  Finally. – If there’s a team that deserves a BCS trip, it’s got to be the Cal Bears.  Sure, last year disintegrated without a consistent leader at QB, but it wouldn’t have mattered given how good USC was.  But, Reggie and Matt (among others) are gone, and as mentioned above, many of the Golden Bears are back.  This Golden Bear team has as much potential as any Jeff Tedford team, including the 2004 team, and no other Cal team has had such a viable opportunity to get to a BCS bowl game.  We’ll find out a lot more about this Cal team after they open the season at Knoxville against a Tennessee team with something to prove.  But, with everyone relatively healthy and in synch by November 18, 2006, the crown should be on the line in LA against the Trojans.

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