It’s not very often I have an interest in west coast college football, but for some reason, I am always interested in California and head coach Jeff Tedford.
Tedford is no longer the head coach, posting a 3-9 record last season, and for the Golden Bears Sonny Dykes of Louisiana Tech is a suitable replacement.
For years, Cal was known as the other team in the famous 1982 “Stanford Band” game. Trust me, a lot has happened since then (31 years later) and with a new offense being installed with this school and the hope of a better outcome than last season, Maybe Dykes helps this team turn the corner.
Here are a few things you need to know about the Bears for the upcoming college season.
1. Dykes comes from good pedigree
The former Louisiana Tech coach learned his trade from the likes of Hal Mumme and Mike Leach so you can bet that this team will throw the ball around a bit.
2. There will be a balance of offense
While he was known as a pass-first offensive coach, Dykes ran the ball more than you would think down south. Look for that kind of output on a team competing in a highly balanced Pac-12 this season.
3. Room for improvement
Returning Starters - Offense: 5, Defense: 6, Special Teams: 1. What that means is after only three wins last season, any welcomed adjustments and improvements will be magnified. I like the fact that there will be open competition on this team.
4. Meet Zach Kline
He has no experience and will get the first opportunity to run this offense for Dykes. This will be a major situation to be watched.
5. Key offensive stars return
RB Brendan Bigelow (431 yards rushing, 9.8 ypc, 3 TD), WR Chris Harper (41 rec), G Jordan Rigsbee. Believe it or not, that is huge for this team. Having players who have been in the system and been successful will make the transition to a more up-tempo style of scoring attack easier to adapt to.
6. Bye, Bye Keenan
Keenan Allen left for the NFL, opening a huge hole to be filled on the outside. Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs and TE Richard Rodgers are still on the squad, which provides good depth and experience.
7. Taking a new stance
The defense will change from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and they have their top three defensive linemen from last year back to help them out. Nick Forbes lead a LB unit and will be aided by Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt.
8. Running backs will need to stick together
Brendan Bigelow is the leader of the unit. but his size may be an issue. He will have Daniel Lasco in the backfield to help him carry the ball and provide a balanced running attack.
9. You have to hate the schedule
This could be a much better team and the record will not reflect it. The Bears face Northwestern and Ohio State. The Pac-12 had eight teams with winning records last season and Cal has to play seven of them this year.
10. Help is on the way
The team’s top three recruits: DE Takkarist McKinley, QB Jared Goff, CB Cameron Walker will all make contributions. But their real aid to this team probably won’t be felt until 2014. It will be another year before this team really shows improvement.