2010 Record: (5-7, 3-6 in Pac-10)
Head Coach: Jeff Tedford (72-42 All-Time, 44-33 in Pac-10)
Last Bowl Game: 2009 Poinsettia Bowl (lost to Utah 37-27)
CFBZ Cal Links
9/3: Fresno State
9/8: at Colorado (2010 result: won 52-7)
9/24: at Washington (2010 result: lost 16-13)
10/6: at Oregon (2010 result: lost 15-13)
10/13: USC (2010 result: lost 48-14)
10/22: Utah (2009 result: lost 37-27)
10/29: at UCLA (2010 result: won 35-7)
11/5: Washington State (2010 result: won 20-13)
11/12: Oregon State (2010 result: lost 35-7)
11/19: at Stanford (2010 result: lost 48-14)
11/25: at Arizona State (2010 result: won 50-17)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 25.8 ppg (6th in Pac-10, 73rd in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 158.83 yds/game (6th in Pac-10, 51st in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 174.8 yds/game (9th in Pac-10, 94th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 333.7 yds/game (7th in Pac-10, 90th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 22.6 ppg (3rd in Pac-10, 40th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 133.42 yds/game (5th in Pac-10, 35th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 185.5 yds/game (1st in Pac-10, 21st in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 318.9 yds/game (1st in Pac-10, 18th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +0.17 per game (5th in Pac-10, 75th in Nation)
Penalties: 57.1 yds/game (5th in Pac-10, 45th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Brock Mansion, Sr (67 of 137 for 643 yds, 2 TD, 5 INT)
Rushing: RB Isi Sofele, Jr (69 for 338 yds, 4.9 ypc)
Receiving: WR Marvin Jones, Sr (49 rec for 756 yds, 4 TD)
Tackles: LB DJ Holt, Sr (85)
Sacks: LB Mychal Kendricks, Sr (7)
Interceptions: CB Marc Anthony, Jr (2)
Athlon Sports: None
Phil Steele: Kraft Fight Hunger (vs Northwestern)
In his tenth season as the Head Coach at California, Jeff Tedford is coming off of his first losing season and his worst Pac-10 finish. Cal's win total has also decreased in each of the past two years. Last year had to be a puzzling one for Cal fans. They started off by winning their first two games by a combined total of 94 points. Sure one of those games was against UC Davis but the other was against Colorado. After winning their first two, the Golden Bears then dropped one at Nevada as they allowed 52 points and then fell to #14 Arizona on the road by one point. Then it was a very strange string of four blowouts that Cal split (they blew out UCLA and Arizona State and got drilled by USC and Oregon State). Finally, Cal finished the year with three straight losses (although two of them were to top ten teams). Seven of Cal's eleven games were won by blowout and four of their games were won by one score. I think it's safe to say that if anything it was a very inconsistent year for Cal and Tedford. So what happens this year with Cal? Do they continue on the track they have been for the last two years or do they start to get their program turned back in the right direction? It will be a very interesting year for Cal for those reasons and because they are a part of the new Pac-12, as they welcome Colorado and Utah to the conference. To get an inside take on the 2011 version of the California Golden Bears we caught up with Phil from Bears With Fangs.
After a 5-7 season there have been rumblings about Jeff Tedford. What are your thoughts on your coach and what does he need to do to stay off the hot seat?
For me, it always been a matter of perspective. Yes, we’re coming off a tough season, but anyone who has ever been a Cal fan should know deep down to their core that our program is in a much better place than it was ten years ago.
With that said, I’ve never subscribed to the theory that an ineffective coach was worth keeping around just because they had shown an ability to win before.
However, I do believe that Tedford will still lead Cal to the Rose Bowl some day. It may sound crazy to some, as there has been mounting evidence the past few years that suggest the contrary, but I do believe that Tedford has done too much with little, and I’m confident he can do more given more. More than just wins, Tedford has established a program, and there are signs (the recent recruiting classes, stadium renovations, the new SAHPC, new coaching personnel) that indicate that Cal will find a way back to legitimately competing for a Pac-12 title.
And quite frankly, due to Tedford’s contract, it really is another year or two before finding a suitable replacement is a feasible possibility anyway. And again, my aforementioned thoughts hope that that won’t be the necessary outcome.
With Shane Vereen moving on to the NFL, who is going to replace him?
Outside of the QB situation, the running back position is one of the biggest uncertainties not only for the offense, but for the team as a whole.
As it stands, junior Isi Sofele is the starting running back headed into Fall Camp, and likely the season. Sofele is a smaller (5’8, 188 lbs) but hard-working and fast-twitched athlete that has shown glimpses of good things. But the sample size is small (just 69 carries last year), and he hasn’t incited as much enthusiasm as a reserve among the fanbase as previous Cal backs.
However, he has shown enough from last season and in Spring Camp to comfortably separate himself from the rest of the pack. The coaching staff hasn’t been wowed by any of the other current backs, yet. Redshirt junior Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson is in strong contention for the #2 spot, but showed up to Spring ball overweight after rehabbing from his offseason knee injury. Sophomore Dasarte Yarnway was injured during spring ball and redshirt frosh Trajaun Briggs was limited for the same reasons. Walk-on Mike Manuel impressed early on in ball but was hobbled by injuries as well. Notice a trend?
Tedford has stated that he’ll be counting on the incoming backs to really contribute to the running game next season. JUCO transfer CJ Anderson may be the most ready to play, but keep an eye out on prized RB recruits Daniel Lasco and Brendon Bigelow. While redshirts may certainly be possible for both players, both have the chance to be something real special, if not this year then next.
While there are many questions about the running back situation, it’s no coincidence that Cal has consistently featured some of the best backs in the nation year after year. Cal’s RB coach Ron Gould is about as good as you’ll ever find, and if you have come to trust one thing about Cal football, it’s to trust that whoever the “guy” is, Coach Gould will have him ready to play.
At the end of Spring Practice, Buffalo transfer Zach Maynard was named as the starting QB. What do you think he will add to the Cal offense?
Unfortunately, we don’t know all that much about Maynard. He was an under-the-radar recruit who only played one season as a true sophomore at Buffalo. Even then, people have made a bit too much of his performance there, as it is difficult to see how it will translate to his time as a starting quarterback.
There are a lot of things that remain to be seen: his ability to read Pac-12 defenses, his accuracy and ability to handle pressure, as well as his understanding of a complicated Cal offense.
We do know a few things however. Maynard will be about as an athletic quarterback as the Bears have had. He brings an added dimension of mobility that makes him a viable running threat, or ability to create time in or out of the pocket when flushed in order to find passing lanes. Tedford has stated that they hope to utilize Maynard’s mobility more this season, and while I doubt this translates to a full-fledged spread offense, do expect to see more spread elements.
He has also picked up Tedford’s offense fairly quickly. His first real playing time with the team was during voluntary team workouts and spring ball, where he quickly ascended from being third in the depth chart to being the clear starter by the end. His improvement during spring ball was noticeable, and one could see his confidence and decision making improving as weeks wore on.
We’re still a ways away from knowing fully what Maynard can do, but Tedford seemed to be intrigued and impressed by his ability to catch on as quickly as he did. That has to count for something.
Who are some newcomers that you think can make an immediate impact for the Golden Bears this year?
The 2011 class has a wealth of riches in terms of talent, and this year may have more true freshman playing than ever.
Other than the aforementioned RB prospects, the Bears will be counting on all of their three incoming cornerbacks to play, due to their lack of depth there: Stefan McClure, Kameron Jackson, Joel Willis. McClure in particular, looks to fit into the nickel position right away.
The biggest (literally) gem of the Cal class is 5 star DT Villami Moala who is truly the first nose tackle prospect the Bears have recruited since switching to the 3-4. He already has Division I level strength and size, and it will be up to him and D-line coach Tosh Lupoi to have him master the necessary techniques to handle some of the best offensive linemen in the Pac-10. I do see him contributing this year.
It should also be noted that some of the biggest playmakers may be players from the 2010 class who either redshirted or greyshirted. Particularly, look out for some of the young linebackers. Outside linebacker Cecil Whiteside was one of the top linebacker recruits in the nation, and was reportedly a beast in spring ball. He will certainly get significant playing time, if not start, on the outside. Similar good things can be said about OLB Chris McCain, ILB Dave Wilkerson who was nearly unblockable off the edge in spring ball after moving to OLB, and Nick Forbes who will contribute on the inside.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
The Bears have a tough season, plain and simple. In a year where the Bears are expected to rebuild and at best surprise some of the top conference contenders, a few games in particular stick out.
The opening game against Fresno State will be important. Fresno State will be much improved, and will offer a critical litmus test as to what we might expect from the Bears this year, and will set the tone. If the Bears win big, they will likely be 3-0 heading into their conference opener against Washington. Lose, and you could see that mark easily change to 1-2.
Speaking of Washington, they provide one of the more important barometers of how the Bears will fare in conference play this year, along with Utah. Neither teams aren’t expected to win the conference, but wins over both may help distinguish the Bears over others in the middle of the conference pecking order.
Finally, you can’t talk about important games without talking about the Big Game. Every game against Stanford is important. Every one.
It’s all about bringing back the axe. And if not, at least make it competitive...unlike last year.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
A successful season in my mind would be 7 wins and a return to a bowl game. Although they would only need 6 wins, it would be a somewhat return to normalcy for the Bears to end the regular season with a winning record.
It’s a good thing you asked “gut feeling,” because otherwise, I would really have no idea as to what to say about this team.
Honestly, I would tell fans to be prepared for another potentially tough season. It’s just kind of a weird year. The Bears won’t really have any true “home” games, with having to play across the bay at ATT Park. They play a tough schedule, in having to play USC, as well as division championship contenders Oregon, Stanford, and ASU on the road.
The Bears’ coaching staff has changed dramatically, and there are strong questions as quarterback and runningback. The Bears’ offensive line has also been poor to mediocre for the past several years, and didn’t seem to have any signs of being much different in spring ball with most starters sitting out due to injury. The defensive secondary will feature many true freshmen, and the defense as a whole lacks any surefire first round draft prospects.
However, you asked about “gut feeling,” and for some reason I can’t shake the sense that the Bear will surprise some people this year. They’re not the surest bets to compete for a division title, but I do think there are some rumblings that this year could be much better than expected. The new staff (including the new strength and conditioning coach) appear to be producing immediate results. The defense will feature some inexperienced, but very talented players. The wide receiving corps. will be vastly improved in my opinion, and again, Maynard could end up being something.
But who knows? As I said before, it’s going to be kind of a weird year.
Next Preview: New Mexico State
Coming in August: Pac-12 Preview
Coming in August: CFBZ Top 25 Countdown
2011 Team Previews