California Golden Bears 2015 Opponent Preview: Grambling State


California Golden Bears Football is less than a month away! Before each Cal Bears football matchup, we’ll preview the opponent’s roster, key players, and give a prediction about the outcome of the game.

The Day:

Saturday, September 5th, 2:00pm (Pacific), Pac-12 Network

2014 Record:

7-5 (7-2 in SWAC)

Head Coach: 

Broderick Fobbs (2nd season, 7-5 at GSU)

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Key Players: 

The key to Grambling State’s offense is in quarterback, Jonathan Williams hands. After starting last season as the Tigers third-string quarterback, a slew of injuries forced Williams into the starting line up. And he responded, leading the Tigers to more than 325 yards of offense per game in nine appearances.

Wide receivers Chester Rogers, Chad Williams, and Verlon Hunter all return as well. The trio of wideouts accounted for 14 touchdowns and 128 catches combined last year. Jestin Kelly also figures to be much improved after a mediocre rushing season last year, a season in which GSU only averaged around three yards per carry.

On the defensive side of the football, the Tigers lost a ton of talent and production — including their leading tackler and interceptions leader. However, due to some transfer luck, coach Fobbs added a solid piece to his defense. Former Ole Miss safety, Guy Stallworth has earned rave reviews from coach Fobbs who has noted his physical style of play and length at the position.

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Also keep an eye on that defensive line, as last season, they averaged 3.75 sacks per game. Michael Jolivet, Jevonte Williams, and Larry Stalling are a few seniors who fill out the Grambling State defensive line.

Key Storyline:

The main storyline of this game doesn’t reside with Grambling State (sorry GSU fans), but with how the California Golden Bears will start off their season. Many are assuming that this game should serve as a warm up for bigger games against the likes of Texas, as well as their Pac-12 opener against Washington.

Nov 29, 2014; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws the ball against the Brigham Young Cougars during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. The Brigham Young Cougars defeated the California Golden Bears 42-35. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

How will the Golden Bear defense respond from a disappointing season last year? Will Jared Goff and Daniel Lasco continue to improve and become one of the best quarterback/running back duos in college football?

If the Golden Bears can perform well against Grambling State — maybe stake the team to a big lead — they can let Goff and Lasco sit and get some rest. Keeping their key players fresh and ready could be key in how well the Golden Bears play toward the beginning of the season.

Also if Cal can get three straight wins to start the season — which seems like a good possibility at this point — they could carry that winning momentum into the Pac-12 gauntlet, which could prove to be invaluable.

Allowing Goff to gain a head of steam and building even more chemistry with his receivers will also be key in this game.

But the biggest thing Bears fans want to see, is whether or not that defense can hold opponents and allow the offense some breathing room. With a new and improved (and healthy) defensive backfield, and a solid group of returners in their front seven, look for a strong performance against a solid Grambling State offense for this hungry Cal defense.

With all this in mind, the Golden Bears head into the 2015 season will real reason for hope. But a good and convincing win to open their season is only step one for the Bears, as they look to jump Pac-12 North contenders Stanford and Oregon — and maybe see an appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Next: California Golden Bears Position Preview: Wrap-Up