I must say, it’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about Cal Football.
Over the last few years, I’d follow what’s happening with the team on BearInsider.com, and I’d get caught up in the usual pre-season excitement; but every year, the team would play a couple games, and show more evidence that it was being mis-micro-managed by its head coach and staff. A hopelessly complex offense, a parade of Offensive Coordinators, inadequate Strength & Conditioning, and an astonishing bargain (e.g., prized recruit commits to Cal if his relative is guaranteed the starting QB job) all contributed to a team that was disorganized, undisciplined, and didn’t play anywhere near its potential.
That was the end of the Jeff Tedford era. This, ladies & gentlemen, is the Sonny Dykes era.
First, the BearRaid offense that Dykes and OC Tony Franklin are creating is — finally — very well-suited to Cal’s speedy RBs and receivers. Instead of pounding fast, undersized RBs into a wall, the BearRaid is an offense that uses four WRs to force defenses to respect the pass, and create openings for the run. This is the scheme that takes some pressure off of an inexperienced offensive line. There will usually be a receiver open, and the QB can find them and throw the ball before the pass rush gets to him. This should be interesting to watch!
Speaking of the QB, who will be running the Bear Raid for Cal? Good question! It’s currently a virtual tie between blue-shirt freshman Zach Kline and true freshman Jared Goff. Kline has the stronger arm & is more comfortable with the longer throws, but Goff has been more consistent with the short possession throws that will be a staple of the Bear Raid. Goff ran this type of offense in HS, and that is part of his advantage, but Kline is learning quickly. Kline, Goff, and junior Austin Hinder have impressed the coaches with their preparation and their play in practices so far, but it’s still a tough choice.
The Bear Raid is a fast-paced, no-huddle offense, and the Cal players are ready, both mentally and physically. Many of the players are in the best shape of their lives, thanks to Strength & Conditioning Coach Damon Harrington.
My concern: We have an inexperienced OL, and an inexperienced QB — either true freshman or RS freshman. Strategic antidote: Start out with a couple screen passes and sweeps to get the DL gassed & slow ’em down.
Still, I think that this year’s Bears will surprise quite a few teams. It’ll be a “learning experience”, but it’ll be fun to watch, for sure.
I’m predicting six wins!