College Football Preview: The 2014 California Golden Bears
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2014 College Football Preview
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Overview: Last season was the worse year for the California Golden Bears since Tom Holmoe’s last season at the program. Sonny Dykes led Cal to a 1-11 season and finished winless in Pac-12 play. Cal’s only win on the year came against Portland State, as the Golden Bears had one of the worst defenses in the country, allowing 45.9 points per game. Offensively, Cal ranked 98th in college football with an average of 23 points per contest. Needless to say, there’s only one way to go up from here if you’re a California fan.
Offense: If there’s one side of the ball that we know is going to get better under Dykes, it’s the offense and the Golden Bears have a promising quarterback in Jared Goff. As a freshman last year, Goff completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 3,508 yards and 18 touchdowns. I’m a huge fan of what I saw from him last year and think Goff has what it takes to be one of college football’s biggest breakout players this season. Goff will also have plenty of help from his wide receivers, as Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs return after racking up a combined 146 receptions last year as sophomores. The Golden Bears also have eight returning experienced offensive linemen, which can only help a young quarterback take that next step. The main concern for Cal on the offensive side is a running game that ranked 109th in the country. Guys such as Daniel Lasco, Khalfani Muhammad and Tre Watson will all get hard looks at the position.
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Defense: Due to injuries and simply poor coaching, Cal had possibly its worst defense in program history last year and will now roll with a more aggressive defensive coordinator in Art Kaufman. Leading tackler Michael Lowe returns at safety, while sack leader Kyle Kragen returns along the defensive line. But the biggest victory for Cal on the defensive side is just getting healthy players back such as Mustafa Jalil, Brennan Scarlett and possibly Avery Sebastian as well. The Golden Bears need their defensive playmakers to return to the field or not much is going to change overnight. California won’t be able to do much of anything if it doesn’t get its experienced defenders back on the field.
Special Teams: Noah Beito is replacing Vincenzo D'Amato at field goal kicker after his graduation. At punter, Cole Leininger will remain the starter after averaging close to 43 yards per attempt.
Outlook: We can start off by saying Cal will not see a bowl game this season. Not just because the talent isn’t there yet, but the schedule isn’t absolutely brutal. Cal starts the season with a road game against Northwestern, and then plays Arizona, USC, Oregon State, Oregon, BYU and Stanford. Yikes. All Cal can hope to do is win three or four games and use that to build into next season. Dykes is a better coach than what last season showed, but he needs his team to stay healthy and some of his young players to grow up. This season will be better for the Golden Bears, but the record isn’t going to drastically change in one short season.