Preview 2007 -
2007 California Preview
2007 Cal Defense Preview
2007 Cal Depth
2006 CFN California
need to know:
With Jeff Tedford at the controls, this is basically a pro-style
offense that mixes the run and the pass evenly, and puts up
points as quickly as any program in the country. The head coach
will be calling plays again after a one-year hiatus, meaning
trick plays will be more frequent than a year ago. The job of
distributing the ball to an array of speedy skill position
players belongs to quarterback Nate Longshore, a strong-armed
junior that threw 24 touchdown passes in 2006 and a few too many
picks. Although he has plenty of receivers to choose from, none
is more lethal than DeSean Jackson, a field-stretcher and legit
Heisman candidate. Super sub Justin Forsett takes over for
Marshawn Lynch at running back, where he’ll be running behind an
outstanding veteran line. Center Alex Mack is on the
All-American doorstep after earning first team All-Pac-10 honors
as a sophomore.
Passing: Nate Longshore
227-377, 3,021 yds, 24 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Justin Forsett
119 carries, 626 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: DeSean Jackson
59 catches, 1,060 yds, 9 TD
Star of the
Junior WR DeSean Jackson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior RT
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman C Chris
Best pro prospect: Jackson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Jackson 2) C Alex
Mack 3) QB Nate Longshore
Strength of the offense: The receivers, the passing game,
Weakness of the offense: Turnovers
Projected Starter: Nate Longshore enters
the season as one of the nation’s fast rising quarterbacks, but
to get there, he’s had to overcome a season-ending ankle injury
in 2005 and a rough 2006 opener against Tennessee. Back on
course, and with another year under Jeff Tedford’s watchful eye,
the sky’s the limit for the junior. After the slow start in
Knoxville, Longshore went on to finish second to John David
Booty in Pac-10 passing efficiency, throwing for 3,021 yards, 24
touchdowns and a troublesome 13 picks that need to be reduced
this fall. At 6-5 and 233 pounds, he has an unmistakable pocket
presence and a powerful right arm, needing only to improve his
decision making and trim some unnecessary weight before the
start of the season. Reminiscent of a young Trent Dilfer, he
can hurl the ball a mile, has limited mobility, and is at his
best when he’s not forcing the ball. In the Bears’ three losses
last year, he threw two touchdown passes and six interceptions.
Projected Top Reserves: The battle for the No. 2
job is an intriguing one between sophomore Kyle Reed and
redshirt freshman Kevin Riley, the hot-shot quarterback
recruits of 2005 and 2006, respectively. At 6-3 and 220 pounds,
Reed has do-it-all potential with a live arm and the quickness
to break containment, and bolt for big yards. Once the game
slows down for him, he has the physical ability to be a star in
As the youngest of the trio, Riley is expectedly playing catch
up, but he did make noticeable progress in the system in the
spring. Although he doesn’t have near the physical prowess of
Longshore or Reed, he does have a quick release and an innate
feel for the position that could wind up being his trump card.
Watch Out For… Longshore’s performance in the
opener with the Volunteers. He went 11-of-20 for 85 yards and
an interception in last September’s 35-18 debacle, meaning this
year’s game could set the tone for the rest of the season for
the quarterback and his team.
Strength: Big arms. From Longshore to Riley, all
of the Cal quarterbacks can get the ball downfield, a job
requirement in an offense that sports a 4x4 relay team at wide
Weakness: Turnovers. Sure, Cal will air it out 30 or so
times a game, but 14 interceptions are still too many for a team
that has visions of dethroning USC in the Pac-10. With
Longshore’s debut as the starter behind him, the turnovers
should come down in 2007.
Outlook: Longshore + Tedford + those mercurial Cal
receivers = big problems for opposing secondaries this fall.
Facing increased expectations, the quarterback will deliver a
monster junior season.
Projected Starters: After shining as one of the
nation’s most dependable backups the last two years, how will
senior Justin Forsett adapt to being the leading man now
that Marshawn Lynch is a Buffalo Bill? He’s rushed for 1,625
yards and ten touchdowns since the beginning of his sophomore
season, but at only 5-8 and 186 pounds, there are concerns about
his ability to absorb the punishment of being the every down
back. A current day Joe Igber, he’s stronger than he appears,
hits the hole quickly, and has a peerless work ethic. Now, if
he can add some girth before the opener, Forsett will be better
equipped to shoulder the load in his final year in Berkeley.
Forsett’s blocking back will be sophomore Will Ta’ufo’ou,
an unselfish 6-0, 250-pounder that got his first career start in
last December’s Holiday Bowl. While he has good hands, a
necessity for Cal fullbacks, his first and second assignment
will be to put his hat on opposing linebackers.
Projected Top Reserves: Jeff Tedford has always
favored using more than one back in his offense, meaning
James Montgomery and Tracy Slocum have unique
opportunities for playing time as redshirt freshmen. The
favorite for the No. 2 job is Montgomery, a 5-10, 205-pound back
that’s very fast and much more physical than Forsett. Although
the top of the depth chart is off limits for now, he took a big
step toward solidifying the backup role with his play in the
Slocum is a north-south runner with good acceleration and a
knack for shedding tacklers. Even after Forsett graduates,
these two freshmen will get the experience in 2007 needed to
take over the rushing attack in 2008.
Watch Out For… true freshman Jahvid Best. Best is
a little raw, but with some of the fastest jets in last year’s
recruiting cycle, he can still have an impact on the offense by
simply taking the occasional handoff and bolting for daylight.
Strength: Forsett. Whether or not he can be a
workhorse, the fact remains that Forsett has made plays whenever
he’s touched the ball the last two years. With a career average
of 6.4 yards a carry, he often has a nice gain before enduring
Weakness: Lack of a grinder. It’s midway through
the fourth and Cal is up by ten. Who does it ask to milk the
clock? Forsett is the undisputed starter, but the staff might
resist continually running its smallest back into the teeth of
an opposing defense.
Outlook: It’s been a couple of seasons since Cal
had so much uncertainty at the running back position. Forsett
is a bona fide playmaker, but for the ground game to really
click, the senior needs a reliable complement the way he was for
Lynch in 2005 and 2006.
Projected Starters: If Cal doesn’t have the best
set of receivers in America, it’s certainly in the top 5. And
purely in terms of speed, the Bears have few peers. The
headliner will once again be junior DeSean Jackson,
arguably the single most flammable offensive player in the
country. The definition of a long ball hitter, he parlayed 59
receptions, 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns into a spot on the
All-Pac-10 first team.
Joining Jackson in the starting lineup is another blazer, senior
Robert Jordan. While not as fast Jackson, he can still
get behind a secondary and is the most fundamentally sound of
the receivers. The veteran of the unit, Jordan has been
starting games since his true freshman season, and has 106
receptions, including a career-best 43 in 2006 for 511 yards and
The Bears like to get the tight end involved, and have a very
good one in senior Craig Stevens. A dominant 6-5 and
255-pound run blocker, the second team All-Pac-10 selection also
pulled down 17 catches for 239 yards and a score in 2006 and ran
a 4.7 in the spring. While others post bigger numbers and get
more post-season awards, Stevens remains one of the country’s
most complete tight ends.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Lavelle Hawkins
is the first man off the bench and the choice when the Bears
shift to a three-wide set. Like his peers at Berkeley, he can
fly but, at 6-2, also gives the offense some much-needed size.
Hawkins emerged in 2006, his second year out of City College of
San Francisco, with 46 catches for 705 yards and five
Senior Sam DeSa used a solid spring to grab the No. 2 job
behind Jackson for now. More of a possession receiver, the
three-time letterwinner has seven career catches, earning most
of his reps on special teams.
A pair of highly-regarded redshirt freshmen, Jeremy Ross
and Daniel Lofton will be bucking for more playing time
later this summer. Last year’s Offensive Scout Team Player of
the Year has been clocked at 4.39, and will be a major
contributor once he digests the offensive system. Lofton, son
of former Stanford and NFL great James Lofton, is 6-3 with good
speed and even better bloodlines.
Stevens’ understudy at tight end will be sophomore Cameron
Moorah, a former prep All-American defensive end that’s
progressing well at his new position. While he needs help as a
blocker, at 6-4 and 248 pounds, he’s an outstanding athlete with
the burst to be a seam-splitter before long.
Watch Out For… plenty of short drives. With the
quick-strike weapons Cal has at receiver, the two-minute offense
will be in vogue, even when the Bears aren’t playing catch up in
the second half of games.
Strength: Speed. Jackson, Jordan and Hawkins all
have the wheels to alter defensive gameplans and soften
defenses, so that Stevens and the Bear backs can pick up east
first downs in underneath routes.
Weakness: Absence of physical receivers. When the
Bears face big, in-your-grill defensive backs, such as the ones
at USC, they’ll get jammed constantly and struggle to get
separation off the line of scrimmage. Cal’s top four wideouts
average just 5-11 and little more than 175 pounds.
Outlook: Pick your poison, defensive
coordinators. If Jackson gets too much attention, Jordan and
Hawkins will feast on single coverage. If the secondary plays
too far back, Stevens will nickel-and-dime it to death. Other
than trying to physically manhandle them, there’ll be no easy
way to contain the Cal receivers in 2007.
Projected Starters: The line must replace Andrew
Cameron and Erik Robertson, but does return three starters from
one of 2006’s top units in the country. Leading the way is
junior Alex Mack, a first team All-Pac-10 selection and
one of the premier centers in the country. At 6-5 and 300
pounds, he’s a whistle-to-whistle mauler that’s skilled in all
phases of the position and getting better. Mack’s versatility
and the development of the backup centers have the staff toying
with the idea of moving him to tackle in order to get the five
best linemen on the field.
If Mack stays put, the tackles will be senior Mike Gibson
and junior Mike Tepper on the left and right side,
respectively. Gibson debuted swimmingly in his first season out
of Solano (Calif.) Community College, moving into the lineup in
game four before having an All-Pac-10 season. He’s got great
feet for a 6-5, 290-pounder, and will benefit from off-season
shoulder surgery that addressed a lingering problem.
The coaches are cautiously optimistic that Tepper is ready to
his 6-7, 336-pound frame and raw physical attributes into
results in 2007. He recovered from a broken leg to start two
games and play in 13 last season, but is still in the
work-in-progress stage of his career.
The guards will be junior Noris Malele on the right side
and senior Brian De La Puente on the left. Malele’s a
returning starter that played well in 2006, but was somewhat
limited by an ankle injury that was repaired in the off-season.
He has untapped potential that’ll reach the surface once he
learns to get more aggressive at the point of attack.
De La Puente has had a terrific off-season, catapulting himself
to the top of the depth chart. A three-game starter in 2006,
he’s as healthy as he’s been in some time, and poised to use his
power and strength to open holes in the running game.
Projected Top Reserves: The rapid development of
redshirt freshman center Chris Guarnero has allowed the
Bears to consider moving Mack outside to tackle. The
co-Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year is tough, intelligent
and fundamentally sound. Once Guarnero adds some heft to his
6-3 frame, he’ll be on his way to becoming the next really good
So far, so good on the relocation of junior Chet Teofilo
from defensive line to left tackle. Very long and athletic at
6-4 and 305 pounds, he needs to evolve quickly in order to
bolster a need area on the second team.
Sophomore Mark Boskovich has gone from former walk-on to
an integral part of the depth chart at guard. At 6-4 and 286
pounds, he’s an overachiever with a shot at his first letter
Watch Out For… sophomore guard Kevin Bemoll.
Although Bemoll hasn’t quite cracked the two-deep, that should
be just a matter of time. One of the nation’s premier offensive
line recruits in 2005, he has natural power and good feet, but
needs to do the little things better in order to earn the
Strength: Pass blocking. They still need to get
Tepper and De La Puente up to speed with the three holdovers,
but the Bears perennially do a great job in pass protection,
allowing a mere 13 sacks of lumbering Nate Longshore in 2006.
Weakness: The second and third unit. Beyond the
starters, there isn’t much experience, and counting too much on
untested linemen, such as Teofilo and Boskovich, could catch up
with Cal if injuries begin to mount.
Outlook: Cal does about as good a job as anyone
coaching up its offensive linemen. With Mack and Gibson again
playing like all-leaguers, the retooled line will mesh quickly,
giving Longshore and the backs the time and holes needed to make