2008 California Preview
2008 Cal Offense
2008 Cal Defense
2008 Cal Depth
2007 CFN California Preview
2006 CFN California
and subsequently missing, lofty expectations in consecutive
years, Cal has squandered whatever equity it had amassed when it
came to national respect.
Have the Bears peaked under Jeff Tedford? It’s a question the
program will try to dismiss while attempting to eliminate the
stench of last year’s putrid 2-6 finish. Cal is in the awkward
position of fending off allegations it’s an underachiever, an
odd assertion about a program that was 1-10 and on the brink of
extinction earlier this decade, but it seems like every chance
it has to make a really big statement, and every chance it has
to turn a big corner, it blows it.
Head coach: Jeff Tedford
7th year: 50-26
Off. 13, Def. 23, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 21
Best Cal Players
1. C Alex Mack, Sr.
2. LB Zack Follett, Sr.
3. LB Worrell Williams, Sr.
4. OT Mike Tepper, Sr.
5. QB Nate Longshore, Sr.
6. CB Syd'Quan Thompson, Jr.
7. LB Anthony Felder, Sr.
8. QB Kevin Riley, Soph.
9. RB Jahvid Best, Soph.
10. DE Tyson Alualu, Jr.
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 at Washington State
Sept. 13 at Maryland
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE
Sept. 27 Colorado State
Oct. 4 Arizona State
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 at Arizona
Oct. 25 UCLA
Nov. 1 Oregon
Nov. 8 at USC
Nov. 15 at Oregon State
Nov. 22 Stanford
Nov. 29 OPEN DATE
Dec. 6 Washington
CFN Prediction: 9-3
2007 Record: 7-6
at Colorado St
UCLA L 30-21
at Arizona State
10 USC L 24-17
Washington L 37-23
Armed Forces Bowl
Dec. 31 Air Force W 42-36
For instance, last year the Bears, helped by the opening day win over
Tennessee and a scintillating victory at Oregon, had the No. 1 ranking
in its grasp before blowing it late in a loss to Oregon State. While
that would normally be not that big a deal with half the season left to
go, the team went from the top of the charts to the ranks of the
also-rans with a puzzling string of six losses in seven games. Why?
There was enough talent to beat the two tremendous teams like the Vols
and the Ducks, but once the bad momentum started to roll, there was no
stopping it. It was a mental issue more than anything else. Once Cal got
on a bad streak, it was stuck, and it wasn’t until the second half
against Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl win that the team appeared to
finally say enough is enough. Now the goal is to start out hot and stay
there. It’s not going to be easy.
There’s a potential quarterback controversy and a shortage of proven
skill position players following the losses of RB Justin Forsett,
receivers DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, and Robert Jordan, and TE
Craig Stevens. However, with nine starters back on defense, the Bears
might rely on that side of the ball for the first time in the Tedford
era, and it’s going to be the most important one in his career.
Tedford, the golden boy coach who always appeared to be on the verge of
taking off for a big-time NFL gig, or something even bigger than Cal,
hasn’t faced this level of adversity since taking the job. He responded
by shaking up his staff and installing tougher offseason mandates for
his players, all in the name of recapturing some national and league
The Bears are no longer the trendy choice to unseat USC in the Pac-10, a
blessing considering how poorly they’ve handled that role in the past,
but there are still plenty of tremendous athletes. Now there’s something
else that was missing in the past: an attitude. Match that with a little
consistency, and the Bears have the potential to be special again.
What to watch for on offense: While the Cal offense is facing a
star power outage for now, don’t bet on it lasting very long. Yeah,
Justin Forsett, DeSean Jackson, and LaVelle Hawkins are no longer
amateurs, but that just paves the way for the next wave of Bear
playmakers to excel. Brace yourself for RB Jahvid Best, receivers
Michael Calvin, Nyan Boateng, and Jeremy Ross, along with TE Cameron
Morrah, who are a half-year of experience away from being steady and
exciting producers in Tedford’s attack.
What to watch for on defense: More of a reliance on the 3-4
defense. Although the staff won’t make a complete shift to the 3-4, it’s
clear it wants to get as many of its big, speedy linebackers on the
field at the same time. Led by Zack Follett and Worrell Williams, the
Bears are brimming with talent with several good prospects waiting in
the wings. Once the three senior starters graduate, underclassmen Mike
Mohamed, D.J. Holt, and Eddie Young are putting in the time now to
ensure that linebacker will be a position of strength in Berkeley for
years to come.
The team will be far better if… last year’s second half collapse
is a distant memory by the time Michigan State visits on Aug. 30.
Although the 2-6 finish left plenty of scars, the Bears have to get past
being reminded about it every time there’s a little bit of adversity.
With the right mindset, there’s enough talent on both sides of the ball,
and enough manageable games on the schedule for the
program to get back on track after veering off
course in 2007.
There's no Tennessee showdown like last year, but the non-conference
schedule isn't all that bad playing Michigan State, going to Maryland, and hosting Colorado State.
All the games against the league's non-Trojan powerhouses are at home.
The timing of the Pac 10 games isn't that bad going to USC after a
two-game home stretch against UCLA and Oregon while going to Arizona
after a week off. Nothing can be taken for granted if the team tanks
like it did at the end of last year's regular season, but closing out
with Stanford and Washington, with an off week sandwiched in between
them, isn't a bad way to finish.
Senior C Alex Mack. Even if WR DeSean Jackson had stayed in school, Mack
would be the Cal’s top offensive performer, high praise for a Bear who’s
saddled with the anonymity of being a center. One of the country’s best
at his position, he’s as dominant run blocking as he is on passing
downs, and is the conductor of a line that’s yielded less than a sack
per game over the last two seasons.
Best defensive player: Senior LB Zack Follett. Follett is a
rarity at his position, a versatile playmaker with a knack for creating
mayhem. Now in his third season as a starter, he’ll defend the running,
rush the passer, or pivot and lock down a tight end or running back in
pass coverage. The total package, he led the defense in tackles for
loss and sacks, while finishing second in pass breakups.
Key players to a successful season: The defensive line. While the
back seven was terrific in 2007, the defensive line was almost
non-existent. That must change this year if the Bears are going to be a
more competitive. The secondary can ill-afford to have opposing
quarterbacks spending an eternity to find receivers, so it’s up to Rulon
Davis, Tyson Alualu, and Cameron Jordan to get more pressures and sacks
than a year ago.
The season will be a success if ... Cal wins nine games. The
schedule is conducive to a bounce-back season, with the Nov. 8 trip to
the Coliseum being the only road game that would be considered a big
upset. After last year’s disappointment, the program needs to
reestablish itself as a threat to USC’s headlock on the Pac-10 crown, or
else it stands to slip behind the likes of Oregon and Arizona State in
the pecking order. A 9-3 record and a second place finish in the
conference would do the trick.
Key game: Nov. 1 vs. Oregon. Call it a semifinal game for the Pac-10
title. If the Bears have any hopes of getting to the Rose Bowl, they’ve
got to first get through Oregon, one of the schools on the short list of
league contenders. USC looms in the on-deck circle a week later, so Cal
better work out the offensive kinks during the first two months of the
2007 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Cal 22 for 165 yards – Opponents 11 for 63 yards
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 13 of 19 (68%) – Cal 5 of 10 (50%)
- Punt return average: Cal 8.8 yards – Opponents 5.4 yards