2008 California Golden Bears Football Preview
Cal's 2007 Record: (7-6, 3-6 Pac 10)
2007 Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl vs. Air Force (W 42-36)
Cal Head Coach: Jeff Tedford (50-26 at California, 50-26 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Frank Cignetti
Defensive Coordinator: Bob Gregory
Returning Leaders for Cal:
Other Key Returnees: DT Mika Kane, K Jordan Kay, C Alex Mack, G Noris Malele, QB Kevin Riley, FB Will Ta’ufo’ou, OT Mike Tepper
Key Losses: DE John Allen, S Thomas DeCoud, G Brian De La Puente, RB Justin Forsett, OT Mike Gibson, CB Brandon Hampton, WR Lavelle Hawkins, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Robert Jordan, DT Matt Malele, TE Craig Stevens
After starting off with five straight wins in 2007, California had a horrible second half of the year. Coach Jeff Tedford’s squad lost six of their last seven regular season games and barely snuck into a bowl game. The good news is they beat Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl and at least have a little momentum heading into 2008.
The defense was average last year, but returning a majority of their players should turn some eyes away from the high flying offense and to the stingy defense. The Golden Bears have spent some time looking at the 3-4 defense and will likely at least use it occasionally this season. With linebackers Worrell Williams, Zack Follett and Anthony Felder returning, it makes sense to focus on the linebackers and try and squeeze in one more starter. Nobody on the line did a great job of getting to the quarterback, but another year of experience should make things better. The secondary has the most to replace with the departure of safety Thomas DeCoud and corner Brandon Hampton. At corner the situation is not that bad. Chris Conte will join returning starter Syd’Quan Thompson after being the top corner reserve last year.
Like it or not, Cal has a quarterback controversy. Nate Longshore did not put up great numbers last year and Kevin Riley led the team to victory in the bowl game. To make matters worse for Longshore, he was very limited in his spring practice due to an injury. That gave Riley, a sophomore, plenty of time to get in reps with the first team. Longshore should start out the year under center, but if the struggles continue Cal fans will be screaming for Riley. Without wide receivers Lavelle Hawkins, DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan or tight end Craig Stevens, the quarterback will almost certainly be less productive this year. No receiver who caught over five passes during the 2007 season is back and that inexperience will hurt early in the campaign. It is not just the skilled receivers who are gone, but running back Justin Forsett has wrapped up his collegiate career after rushing for 1,546 yards and 15 touchdowns his senior season. Jahvid Best is the most experienced back, but after a hip injury it remains to be seen how productive he can be. Sophomore Tracy Slocum and redshirt freshman Shane Vereen are next in line.
The Bottom Line for the Golden Bears:
It is not like Forsett was an inferior back, but it is the offensive line that has made Cal’s running attack so effective in recent years. And once again they will make this year’s crop of ball carriers look very good. The unit needs to replace the left side of the line with the graduations of tackle Mike Gibson and guard Brian De La Puente, but the other side of the line is solid and center Alex Mack is one of the best in the nation. Even with the youngsters in the backfield, Cal’s streak of 1,000 yard rushers probably will not end here. Neither will there streak of bowl appearances.
2007 California Golden Bears Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 165.46 (45th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 239.15 (49, 4)
Total Offense: 404.62 (50, 4)
Scoring Offense: 29.31 (50, 4)
Rushing Defense: 164.23 (68, 8)
Pass Defense: 214.31 (38, 2)
Total Defense: 378.54 (58, 6)
Scoring Defense: 26.77 (58, 6)
Turnover Margin: -.23 (76, 9)
Sacks: 1.69 (84, 10)
Sacks Allowed: .85 (3, 1)
By Joel Welser
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