California Golden Bears
2010 Record: 5-7
2010 Bowl Result: No game
2010 Against the Spread: 6-6
2010 over/under: 6-6
Returning Starters: 17 (10 offense, 7 defense)
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The Cal Golden Bears were one of the most difficult teams to figure out last season. The started off the season 2-0 with wins over UC-Davis and Colorado by a combined score of 104-10. Then they lost two road games, getting blown out at Nevada 52-31 and losing a close 10-9 game at then #14 Arizona. Then the Bears blew out UCLA 35-7, got killed at USC 48-14, and dominated Arizona St 50-17. Then they lost at Oregon St 35-7, before a narrow 20-13 victory at lowly Washington St. Despite having the last three games at home, they lost all three to finish 5-7 and out of a bowl game. They played Oregon tougher than any Pac 10 team did including Stanford and USC losing a narrow 15-13 decision. They were destroyed vs Stanford 48-14, and lost 16-13 to Washington to close out the regular season. The Washington and Arizona losses hurt the most because they were both middling teams in the conference that Cal had a chance t0 beat.
This year Coach Jeff Tedford returns 17 starters including 10 on offense. Hopefully, they will be more consistent for Tedford’s sake as well as the fans and bettors for Cal.
Here is a look at Cal’s offense, defense, special teams, and schedule.
Last year Cal had one of the worst passing offenses in the country under senior quarterback Kevin Riley averaging only 174.8 yards a game. The rushing game wasn’t terrible averaging 159.9 yards a game. However, teams had no respect for the anemic passing game and would stack 8 or 9 guys in the box on almost every play. The Bears averaged 25.8 points a game.
Junior Zach Maynard takes over as the quarterback for the inconsistent Riley. Maynard transferred from Buffalo and sat out last season. He had almost 3,000 combined passing and rushing yards with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions 2 years ago with Buffalo. He is very athletic and will be able to escape from pressure with his legs. Senior Brock Mansion and Sophomore Allan Bridgford will compete for the back-up job.
Cal must replace running back Shane Vereen who is now with the Patriots. Vereen had 231 carries for 1,167 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He had more carries than everyone on the team combined. Vereen also had 22 catches and 3 touchdowns out of the backfield. Junior Isi Sofele will be the feature back. He had 69 carries for 338 yards, with no touchdowns last year, as well as 5 catches and 2 touchdowns last year. Sofele is only 5-7 and 188 pounds so durability could be an issue, but he more than makes up for it with his speed and quickness. Junior Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson only played in 4 games last year due to a knee injury but he will get significant carries as well now that he is healthy. A couple of key injuries to sophomore Desarte Yarnaway and redshirt freshman Trajuan Briggs has hurt the depth of the unit. Expect true freshman Brendan Bigelow to step into the void and get significant carries. Junior Eric Stevens is the fullback and is primarily used as a blocker but he did catch 4 balls last year and a touchdown.
The top two receivers return for the Bears in senior Marvin Jones and junior Keenan Allen. Jones had 50 catches for 765 yards and 4 touchdowns. Allen had 46 catches, 490 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Both also had a few carries in the run game and scored a touchdown. Allen also returns kicks for the Bears. Seniors Michael Calvin and Coleman Edmond will get significant targets as well. Senior tight end Anthony Miller only had 13 catches and a touchdown but looks to bounce back for his last year in the program. He could be an NFL prospect if he can catch more balls, but last year the line struggled and he had to pass protect and run block more.
The O-line returns 3 starters from a unit that wasn’t terrible but also wasn’t exactly good either. Senior left tackle Mitchell Schwartz was All Pac 10 second team last year and returns to anchor the line. Senior Justin Cheadle and junior Brian Schwenke return at the guards. Junior Dominic Galas takes over as center. If the line can be just a little more consistent this year it will really help Maynard adjust to the new offense more quickly.
Cal gave up only 319.8 total yards a game last year which ranked in the top 20 in the country. The pass defense was ranked #21 with 185.5 yards a game, but the rush defense allowed 134.3 yards a game which was #37 in the country. The Bears allowed 22.6 points a game with was #40 in the country. The Golden bears return 7 starters from that unit.
However, those four starters were all-stars. The defense still has plenty of talent including senior linebackers Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt. Seniors DE Trevor Guyton and S Sean Cattouse will also be special players. Expect a little drop off but the defense should still be the strength of the team.
Punter Bryan Anger has been first team all-conference fort eh last two seasons and looks to do the same this year. Last year he averaged 45.6 yards a punt.
Senior Giorgio Tavecchio returns as the kicker but he was inconsistent on field goals last year making only 11 for 16, and 5 for 9 from 30 yards or longer. He did average 65 yards on kickoffs though. Junior Vincenzo D’Amato will step in if Tavecchio falters.
Keenan Allen will return both kicks and punts this year. He averaged 22,5 yards per kick return last season.
California opens the season at home against a tough Fresno St team that is expected to be one of the favorites to win the WAC. Cal then travels to Colorado for an unofficial conference game. The game was scheduled before Colorado moved to the now Pac 12 this season, so it won’t count in the conference standings. Cal then gets a layup as Presbyterian comes to Berkeley. In conference Cal opens up with a tough 2 game road trip at Washington and Oregon. It would help if Cal could win the tossup against Washington or they have a good shot of starting off the conference season 0-4 with USC and Utah coming to Berkeley the next two weeks after Oregon. Then the Bears travel to UCLA before a two game home stand against Washington St and Oregon St. Cal closes the season at Stanford and at Arizona St.
Even with such a brutal schedule anything less than 7 games could cost Jeff Tedford his job. In order to get to seven wins, it will take wins in the first three games, win one of the first four conference games, and sweep UCLA, Washington St, and Oregon St. Even better would be a 2-2 split with wins over Washington and Utah in the first 4. Either way even 7 wins isn’t a lock.
Cal was 6-6 against the spread including 5-2 at home and 1-4 on the road. The over/under was 6-6 including 4-3 at home and 2-3 on the road.
Game to play Cal
last season in Berkeley Cal destroyed Colorado 52-7. This year the two now conference foes meet in Boulder for the rematch. Cal won’t win by 45 points in the altitude of Boulder but they should have enough to beat a rebuilding Colorado team.
Game to Bet against Cal
Last season, Cal lost to USC in Los Angeles 48-14. The rematch is in Berkeley but that doesn’t really matter. Since Cal won in triple overtime in 2003, USC has won 7 straight in the series. Probation or not, USC owns California, and that shouldn’t change this year either.
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