The California Bears football team is in a situation not too far from the situation UCLA finds itself in. They are struggling on the field despite recent successes on the recruiting front. However, if you look at the overall direction of the program, the Bears are trending towards success while the Bruins are flatlining.
Head Coach Jeff Tedford is the winningest coach in Cal history, yet he found himself in discussion for the hot seat after a 5-7 2010 campaign. After starting the season 3-0, Cal lost three straight. Two of those losses were on national television (although neither loss was as bad as UCLA's whipping). At that point, it looked like Cal's 2011 season might be lost. However, Cal pounded Utah 34-10 last week, and they get UCLA, Washington St., and Oregon St. before facing Stanford for the Axe.
The University of California has begun to see the value of a successful football program. Perhaps AD Sandy Barbour was swayed by additional revenue and donations following the 2004-06 season in which the Bears went 28-9. Cal has since broken ground on new athletics facilities as well as begun remodeling Memorial Stadium. Simply put, Cal is supporting their football program in ways that UCLA is not.
As mentioned, Jeff Tedford is Cal's winningest head coach of all-time. He's also the State's highest paid public employee. Tedford's Midas Touch with quarterbacks has not worked since Aaron Rodgers left for the NFL, the Bears are passing for nearly 300 ypg this year. Unfortunately, it has partly come at the rushing game's expense, where the Bears are only averaging 136 ypg, their lowest total in over 5 seasons. Cal is scoring over 30 ppg, but that number is partly inflated due the 9 touchdowns they put on the board against Presbyterian.
Defensively, Cal is led by Clancy Pendergast. Pendergast is in his second season at Cal. His 3-4 defense has been inconsistently successful, but it gave UCLA's pistol attack fits last season. UCLA ran for only 26 yards last season and Cal destroyed UCLA 35-7. UCLA's passing attack didn't fare much better, passing for only 118 yards while being sacked 5 times.
One name to watch out for is Tosh Lupoi. Lupoi earned national infamy when he instructed his players to fake injuries against Oregon, but he is a very talented young coach. He is in his 6th season at Cal after playing for the Bears from 2000-05. In 2010, he was named Rivals Recruiter of the Year. He was absolute dynamite on the recruiting trail, and was the primary recruiter for 5* WR Keenan Allen, 5* DE Chris Martin, 4* LB Chris McCain, 4* LB Cecil Whiteside, 4* LB Nick Forbes, and 4* DE Gabe King. In 2011, he was the primary recruiter for 4* DE Todd Barr, 4* DT Mustafa Jalil, 4* DT Viliami Moala, 4* DE Brennan Scarlett and 4* DB Avery Walls. Needless to say, Lupoi has been lighting up the recruiting trail, and has provided the Bears with a lot of recruiting momentum as Cal moves back into upgraded facilities.
Cal starts Zach Maynard (6-2, 190, Jr.*) at quarterback. Maynard is completing 54.2% of his passes for 262.9 ypg. He has thrown 12 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. He is a very athletic quarterback, but he does not look to run.
Allan Bridgford (6-3, 212, So.*) backs up Maynard. Bridgford has a cannon for an arm, but he struggles with accuracy like Maynard. On the season, Bridgford is completing only 41.4% of his passes with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Isi Sofele (5-8, 190, Jr.) may only be averaging 88 ypg, but he is a very capable runner. He posted 110 yards against Oregon, and his numbers would be higher if not for his 44 yard effort against USC. He is averaging 4.86 ypc and has score 5 touchdowns on the season.
C.J. Anderson (5-11, 215, Jr.) will back up Sofele. He has only 5 carries in the last two games, but he is averaging 4.52 ypc and has scored 3 touchdowns this season.
Will Kapp (5-10, 225, Sr.*) starts at FB (Yes, Cal uses a FB) and is backed up by John Tyndall (6-3, 240, Sr.*).
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Keenan Allen (6-3, 205, So.) and Marvin Jones (6-3, 202, Sr.) are both having good seasons, but Allen is beginning to look like a potential high draft pick. Allen has 60 receptions for 906 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. Jones is also putting up good numbers with 40 receptions for 599 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Michael Calvin (6-3, 215, Sr.*) is the only other WR on the roster with more than one reception this season. He has 16 receptions for 190 yards and no touchdowns.
At tight end, Cal starts Anthony Miller (6-4, 260, Sr.). and Miller has 11 catches for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Spencer Ladner (6-7, 260, Jr.). is the second TE on the depth chart. He is a big bodied blocker and has not recorded a reception this year. We may also see Spencer Hagan (6-5, 220, So.).
Cal's offensive line is somewhat light and more adept at pass blocking. Cal has only allowed 13 sacks (-106 yards), but they have given up 35 tackles for loss (-156 yards) this season and the team is rushing for only 136 ypg.
Cal starts upper classmen at every position. At LT Mitchell Schwartz (6-6, 318, Sr.*) returns as the leader of the offensive line. Heis backed up by Bill Tyndall (6-4, 280, So.*).
Cal also returns starters at both guard positions. LG Brian Schwenke (6-4, 300, Jr.) is backed up by Chris Adcock (6-3, 300, Fr.*). RG Justin Cheadle (6-3, 295, Sr.*) is backed up by Justin Gates (6-3, 295, Sr.*)
At C Dominic Galas (6-1, 290, Jr.*) starts and is backed up by Mark Brazinski (6-3, 295, So.*)
At RT Matt Summers-Gavin (6-4, 295, Jr.*) replaces Donovan Edwards. Summers-Gavin started a few games last year at guard, so he also brings experience to the offensive line. He is backed up by Tyler Rigsbee (6-5, 288, Jr.*).
That concludes Part I of the California Golden Bears preview. Fire away with any additional comments, and be sure to check back in tomorrow where we'll preview the Bears' defense and special teams.