Upon vacationing to the likes of UMass and Appalachian State, we review a cluster of crews returning some serious experience for 2015.
A subtle hint at which programs emanate from behind the red curtain, Phil Steele has nonchalantly stirred the pot, denoting just a few that peak the panel, the last trinket out west being the Cal Golden Bears.
2014 record: 5-7 (T-4th Pac-12 North)
9/5 Grambling State
9/12 San Diego State
9/19 @ Texas
9/26 @ Washington
10/3 Washington State
10/10 @ Utah
10/22 @ UCLA
11/7 @ Oregon
11/14 Oregon State
11/21 @ Stanford
11/28 Arizona State
Scanning the power five conferences alone for a strapping road gauntlet marks a daunting task. Not to mention that for Cal, sandwiched betwixt that combustion persists counteraction with the Trojans, Oregon State and Arizona State, three teams escalating the Pac-12 ladder.
Revving the engine for his third season in Berkeley, Cal’s pedagogue in Sonny Dykes yearns to build off of a five-win season following just a couplet of victories in 2013.
The difference between frolicking amidst the quicksand in the PAC-12 North and possibly mending together an opportunity to ascend up the ranks lies with the experience provided, especially on offense.
For those fresh to the content, we’ll provide our insight once more, as Cal’s nature for 2015 has already sprung the likes of many: they’re quite the intriguing club.
It begins and ends with quarterback Jared Goff.
Amidst the two-win expedition, Cal bookmarked one bright spot, and both Goff’s potential and statistics gave Dikes and the Bears fans a foundation to lean on for the coming seasons.
He’s tall. At 6″4′, he obtains complete vision of the field, effective for mastering the five-wide, spread offense.
Aside from his physical capacity, he’s both confident and developing. Improving on his freshman numbers, Goff trickled out of his comfort zone by hauling the ball down the field more in his second year (7.8 Y/ATT in 2014), but what lashes out on paper is his touchdown to interception ratio, which progressed from 18-10 to 35-7 in just the initial two campaigns.
I guess when your armory’s stocked full of reliable and long-serving wideouts, the job becomes increasingly easier.
It’s quite spooky that an offense hoarding the 6th-best passing attack in 2014 may upgrade.
Aside from certain clubs that possess one deep threat and a few dependable pass catchers, Cal’s receiving corps consists of double-digit yards per catch guys concealing a knack for the endzone.
Goff’s favorite target in Kenny Lawler returns, a sophomore that secured 54 passes for 701 yards and nine scores. Soaking his feet in 2013, Lawler remained a solid contributor, but more than doubled his yardage in ’14. With two complete seasons under his belt, we’ll see if the California native eclipses the quadruple-digit mark receiving.
But with so much wealth comes added distribution.
6″0′ speedster Chris Harper hopes to deposit the cherry atop his illustrious Cal career, the wideout accumulating at least half a thousand yards in his first three seasons out west. A minor step backwards in 2014, Harper’s athleticism on offense will be complemented on special teams as a punt returner.
Following the trend of three years pocketed with experience, the next advocate for Goff’s army lies with Bryce Treggs, the junior residing from Inglewood. Your standard 52 catches, 583 yards and 6 six scores, the Golden Bears stash yet another consistent playmaker in the treasure-trove.
The progress prohibits halting.
Juniors Trevor Davis (24, 399, 5), Darius Powe (20, 328, 1) and Maurice Harris (25, 252, 2) will also be familiar faces.
While the 7-wide look never emerged as a successful scheme, you better believe Dikes’s stockpile of receivers top the Pac-12 conference.
And that’s without weighing in on running back David Lasco.
So prone to slinging, Cal failed to skip a beat with their dangerous tailback, the 6’1″ star-studded Lasco managing 1,115 yards on the ground, 356 through the air, and 14 combined touchdowns.
Fellow running back Khalfani Muhammad should also receive plenty of action as the 5’8″ with lethal speed caught a glimpse of action in 2014.
Just your old-fashioned 9-man wrecking crew.
Succeeding on offense begins with the anchorage up front, an area that Cal could be sneakily efficient in.
Jordan Rigsbee remains the centerpiece for the offensive line as he’s been a rock for the big men up front since his freshman season: assisting Rigsbee will be 6″6′ Steven Moore, presenting a massive body for protecting Goff.
Plagued by defensive woes, Cal set up shop and picnicked beneath the ranking in 2014 yet again, boasting flat out gruesome numbers through the air.
Defensive back Griffin Piatt transitioned to the secondary following an empty-handed start at receiver to begin his tenure and will return as Cal’s leading interception getter with four in 2014.
Cedric Dozier and Cameron Walker also cement their stations at cornerback for a rather small defensive secondary, however.
Linebacker Jalen Jefferson glues together the middle of the defense, the senior with some heavy experience as well. He’s no Scooby Wright from Arizona but should act as a key leader for a defense carrying questions.
Upon transferring to rival Stanford, Cal will be down one defensive man up front with Brennan Scarlett but will look towards upperclassmen Mustafa Jalil and Todd Barr to wreak havoc, or at the minimum, create pressure to ease off the work of the secondary.
Let’s face it, it’s a quick-strike offense. A team that scores in bunches doesn’t exactly need to be accompanied by a stifling defense that produces All-Americans. If you have both, great. If you’re the Golden Bears, you seek other ways to win–they’ve just relied on shootouts.
For Cal, it’s about the bare necessities, and if they can at least improve from 2014’s number, they may compile a few more wins. But good luck with the road trial.