The Golden Bears had a terrible season last year. They were 3-9 with five straight loses at the end of the season. However, the Bears fortunes are turning with the hiring of head coach Sonny Dykes, who is capable of leading the Bears back to a Bowl Game this up coming season.
Cal still has a lot of talented football players on the roster. There are 13 starters returning (7 on offense and 6 on defense) and numerous players that got some playing time last year. Their experiences will be crucial to the development of the new players as well as the overall success of the team.
Cal’s defense will have to be the team’s foundation while their offense gets in sync. The defense will be moving to a 4-3 formation (3-4 formation last season), which will allow talents like Todd Barr the opportunity to be an impact player. There will also be highly recruited Junior College players like Marcus Manley that are more than capable of being efficient defensive lineman.
Brennan Scarlett and Chris McCain will be moving from the linebacker position to defensive end. They are equipped with the athleticism of a linebacker and size of defensive lineman. This versatility will make the Bears defense more dynamic and quick.
The Bears defense should be consistent throughout the season, but it is the potential in their offensive unit that can bring the Bears back to the top.
Last season in Louisiana Tech, Coach Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin led the nation in total offense and scoring with 577.9 yards and 51.5 points per game respectively. Now they will bring that high-scoring offensive game plan to Cal. Dykes has the correct playbook and the right players. He just needs the offense to execute his game plan.
Dykes will bring his Air-Raid attack to the Bears. However, for that offense to work, the quarterbacks and wide receivers must be in synced. There still isn’t a clear-cut starting quarterback (Zach Kline, Austin Hinder and Jared Goff are all fighting for the starting job), which may lead the offense to progress slowly. Chemistry and trust between the wide receivers and the starting quarterback will be shaky at the start of the season. However, I predict that when the offense starts to find its groove, then the Bears will be start blowing by teams.
Seven Pac-12 teams will qualify for the bowl game next year and I don’t see Cal being at the bottom end of the Pac-12. The road back to a Bowl Game looks bright for the Golden Bears.