Here’s the third in our series of posts looking at the Pac-12 North — which will focus on the California Golden Bears. (Disclaimer: I am helping Peter 71 out during the rest of this series, so I apologize if my style doesn’t match his.)
California Golden Bears
Who they lost:
If old depth charts and articles are to be believed: Cal didn’t lose a lot, starters-wise, at least. I counted junior receiver Chris Harper (Left early for NFL and wasn’t drafted); senior offensive linemen Alejandro Crosthwaite and Chris Adcock; senior defensive tackle Austin Clark; and senior safety Michael Lowe.
Who they have returning:
Where to start here… quarterback Jared Goff, running back Daniel Lasco, receiver Bryce Treggs, linebacker Jalen Jefferson, cornerback Stefan McClure; Cal returns a whooping 18 starters from last season. So they are sitting pretty when it comes to having players who know the system and what to expect. Their offense, especially, could be one of the conference’s (and nation’s) top offenses.
Goff might be the obvious answer, and believe me, he’ll put up gaudy numbers. But where would he be without his receivers? The Golden Bears are freakishly deep at wide receiver. It’s not just a numbers thing, either. These receivers are talented; a blend of size, speed, and play-making ability. Treggs, Trevor Davis, Kenny Lawler, Darius Powe… They will pose a challenge for every defense in the conference this season.
Losing two starting offensive linemen is never a good thing for a pass-happy team that goes four wide often. Having to ease in two new players at those positions could cause some early hiccups, if not all season. It’s not just a matter of keeping pressure off Goff, if the line can’t open enough lanes for the Cal running game, teams will key on Goff and the receivers, which could lead to Goff pressing and turnovers being forced.
Way Too Early Prognostication:
Cal is my sleeper team in Pac-12 this season, especially since they are in the very uncertain North division. They have a bevy of experience returning, a talented and very explosive offense, and their defense has nowhere to go but up. So I could see Cal finishing as high as second in the North. That said, the defense must make strides if the Golden Bears want to emerge as conference contenders. One thing’s for certain, that Goff and his receivers should be a heck of a lot of fun to watch. (RW)