2007 RECORD: 7-6; PAC-10: 3-6
Won Armed Forces Bowl vs. Air Force 42-36
LOCATION: Berkley, California
STADIUM: Memorial Stadium (72,516)
HEAD COACH: Jeff Tedford
OVERALL: 50-26 (6 seasons)
AT CAL: 50-26 (6 seasons)
After trailing Oregon St. by ten points with three minutes remaining in the contest, the Golden Bears—led by freshman QB Mike Riley—were poised to send the game into overtime. But something happened on the way to the kill-the-clock-spike and a potential 6-0 start—with all of their time outs exhausted, Riley tried to scramble. Not only did the clock run out on the game, but seemingly the season. Cal was No. 2 in the country heading into that game and proceeded to lose six of its last seven to end the regular season.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Frank Cignetti (1st Season)/Jim Michalczik (7th Season)
OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 4
KEY LOSSES: DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, Justin Forsett, Craig Stevens, Robert Jordan, Mike Gibson, James Montgomery (Left School)
Senior signal caller Nate Longshore started their bowl victory against Air Force, but he left the contest with Cal trailing 21-0. It was Riley who led the comeback and ensured a sixth straight winning season under headman Jeff Tedford. Who will get the most reps this season? It’s anyone’s guess, but if Cal sticks to one starter, they should be fine. Their major concerns lie at the skill positions where they must replace their top five pass catchers and their leading rusher from a year ago. The receiving corps is young, but very talented, while sophomore Jahvid Best looks to be a special player. Making everyone’s life easier will be one of the Pac-10’s better O-Lines led by C Alex Mack—Cal has allowed a mere 24 total sacks the last two seasons and their backs consistently average over five yards per carry.
TOP PROSPECTS: 1) C Alex Mack (SR), 2) TB Jahvid Best (SO)
WHEN THE OTHER TEAM HAS THE BALL
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Bob Gregory (7th Season)
DEFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 8
KEY LOSSES: Thomas DeCoud, Brandon Hampton, Justin Moye
Cal has been known as an offensive team under Tedford, but this might be the season the defense leads the way, particularly early on. The linebacking corps returns three senior starters in Worrell Williams, Anthony Felder and Zack Follett, and all three can play. The secondary loses leading tackler Thomas DeCoud but returns two starters, CB Syd’Quan Thompson and FS Bernard Hicks, and has quality depth. The key is the defensive line, which was not up to par last season. If senior DE Rulon Davis stays healthy and sophomore DT Derrick Hill progresses as expected, this will be a far more productive unit, one that should have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the defense.
TOP PROSPECTS: 1) LB Worrell Williams (SR), 2) LB Anthony Felder (SR)
The Bears don’t have any gimmes out of conference. However, they should be able to put home games against Michigan St. and Colorado St., as well as a trip to Maryland, in the “W” column. Their two biggest games are at home, as fellow contenders Oregon and Arizona St. both come to Berkeley giving the Golden Bears an edge in the battle for second place. However, they must do a better job away from home after losing their last four road games of the 2007, including late season defeats at Washington and Stanford (5-13 in Pac-10 play).
Quarterback: Make sure you have one quarterback not two, Coach Tedford. Both Longshore and Riley can play, but this is not a situation where one has a unique skill set; there are no “sub packages” here. It is nice to have options, but if they are left open too long this could be a detriment. Coach Tedford needs to pick one quarterback and stick with him. Let’s not forget what the quarterback battle between Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter did to Arizona St’s season two years ago.
CFI FINAL ANALYSIS
How quickly everyone forgets. Heading into last season, Cal was ranked No. 12 in both the Coaches and the AP Polls, the highest of any Pac-10 school not named Southern Cal. They rose to No. 2 by week six with a win at Oregon (with Dennis Dixon). Then it all fell apart after Longshore suffered an ankle injury, which plagued him the rest of the way. The Bears will have a productive offense, as they always do under Tedford, and with an improved defense expect a bounce back season in Berkley.
Photo Credit: Collegiate Images
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
2007 RECORD: 7-6; PAC-10: 3-6