3 Bears Who Must Rise to the Occasion in 2012


September 1, 2012; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Chris Harper (6) is congratulated by wide receiver Keenan Allen (21) after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Memorial Stadium. The Wolf Pack defeated the Golden Bears 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

The Cal Bears have always been a good team. However, being good isn’t enough for Jeff Tedford‘s squad.

They want to be great.

Cal hasn’t played in the Rose Bowl since 1958, and they haven’t ever played in a BCS bowl game. The Bears have played in a bowl game in almost every season under Jeff Tedford, but they haven’t been able to take the final step to greatness.

Just about everyone is doubting the Bears this year, but they know they can succeed and win a lot of games. However, for that to happen, lots of players will have to rise to the occasion and perform well consistently.

Here are three Golden Bears who must rise to the occasion in 2012.

Marc Anthony

Cal has the potential to shut down offenses, and to do that, they’ll have to get good performances from Marc Anthony.

Anthony is an athletic corner who can shut down great receivers and stop the run. He is a good all-around corner, and injuries seem to be all that stands in his way of a great 2012 season.

The Bears will face some great receivers in 2012, such as Robert Woods and Marquise Lee of USC. Anthony and fellow corner Josh Hill will have a large task on their hands when Cal travels to Southern California to play USC, but they will probably be able to handle covering two of the nation’s top receivers.

If not, the Trojans will run all over Cal’s secondary and put up 40-plus points.

Cal has a young defense, but they have the potential to hold opponents to a low amount of points. Anthony will be key to Cal’s defensive success. He has had trouble with injuries in the past, which could be a problem in 2012.

However, as long as he can stay healthy, expect him to make tackles in the secondary, cover the Pac-12’s top receivers, knock down and intercept passes, and guide Cal’s defense to success.

Keenan Allen

Keenan Allen was great in 2011. And, for Cal to succeed in 2012, he’ll have to be great again.

The Heisman candidate caught 89 passes for 1,261 yards and six touchdowns in 2011, as he led Cal to a 7-6 record and an appearance in the Holiday Bowl. Allen has great hands, and he can jump for a ball, break tackles and outrun defenders.

Basically, he has everything you want in a star receiver.

Not only can he make great catches, Allen can make great catches in the rain. While watching the 2011 Big Game, it became clear that Allen can catch a wet ball and will not hesitate to lay out to make a catch. It’s that kind of attitude that’s made him the star he is.

Allen boosted quarterback Zach Maynard’s stats by making some great catches and running for a lot of yards after the catch. Maynard and Allen are half-brothers and have great chemistry, which is part of the reason why they’ve both been so good.

Maynard is a better quarterback than he was last year, so Allen should get more passes to catch. As long as he gets open and provides a target for Maynard, he’ll have a good year and could even be invited to New York City for the Heisman trophy ceremony.

Zach Maynard

Zach Maynard can throw a football very well. However, he can’t throw a football well consistently.

Maynard performed well in 2011, but he was very inconsistent. The Bears’ quarterback failed to throw for 3,000 yards, and he threw 12 interceptions while throwing for just 17 touchdowns. His completion percentage was just 57 percent, a stat he’ll have to improve.

Luckily, Maynard has a great receiver with magnetic hands in Allen. If Maynard targets Allen a lot, his completion percentage will probably get a lot higher. Maynard throws a lot of wobbly passes and has flaws in his footwork, but Allen can adjust to make catches on those passes.

Expect Maynard to perform better in 2012, but expect him to be inconsistent. He doesn’t have what it takes to be a star quarterback, which is why he probably won’t come close to making the NFL. However, he can definitely improve on his 2011 season.

A lot lies on Maynard’s hands. He will need to perform consistently and be more accurate for the Bears to have a great year, but if he can just improve on his poor 2011 stats, Cal will be a much better team.