Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Jeff Tedford was once one of the more respected coaches
in the Pac-12. After all he led California to eight bowl games and holds the
program record for most wins, while winning a pair of Pac-10 Coach of the Year
Awards. However, Tedford was never able to get California over the hump and a
disastrous 2012 spelled the end for the Fresno State alumnus.
The Golden Bears split their first two games with a 31-24 loss to Nevada and a
50-31 win over FCS foe Southern Utah. Then the losses began to pile up as the
Golden Bears dropped three straight, though they did give Ohio State all it
could handle in a 35-28 setback. California's high point of the season came
next when it routed UCLA, 43-17 and followed it up with a 31-17 victory at
However, the Golden Bears quickly plummeted back to earth as they lost five
straight games to end the season, losing the final two by a combined score of
121-31. At 3-9, California suffered just its second losing season of Tedford's
11-year run but it was enough to send him packing.
OFFENSE: Hoping to bring some excitement to Berkeley led California to hire
former Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes to take the helm.
"Anytime you take over a coaching job at a new university, the biggest thing
you worry about is what's going to be the buy-in," Dykes said of his
experience taking over. "Sometimes it takes a long time for those guys to buy
into your program. To their credit, the buy-in occurred on day one."
If there is one area where Dykes is certain to get players to buy in it will
be on the offensive side of the ball. In his third and final season with
Louisiana Tech, Dykes oversaw the No. 1 offense in the country as the Bulldogs
racked up 577.9 yards per game. The Bulldogs didn't just put up points though
as they were 37-22 in Dykes' three seasons, including a 9-3 finish a year ago.
The most important aspect of any offense, but especially Dykes' spread heavy
attack, is the quarterback position. Dykes has his work cut out for him in
that regard as none of the three signal callers on the roster have ever thrown
a pass in college. Redshirt freshman Zach Kline projects the best to run the
offense but he will be in a lengthy and tough competition for the job with
true freshman Jared Goff and junior Austin Hinder.
"I think that we're obviously undergoing a change in what we're doing
offensively and for us, a lot of our success is going to be determined by the
level of play that we get from our quarterback," Dykes said. "That's got to be
a position that we get settled quickly in fall camp."
Improving a lackluster passing attack that ranked ninth in the Pac-12 last
season (208.3 ypg) is that much harder with top receiver Keenan Allen gone.
Dykes will need Chris Harper (41 receptions, 544 yards) and Bryce Treggs (21
receptions, 216 yards) to step up right away and lead a number of
inexperienced receivers, as Dykes' calls for many four and five wideout
The losses on offense will not just be felt in the passing game. Though Dykes
doesn't run heavily, losing the top two rushers from last year's team won't
help bring balance to the unit. Isi Sofele (757 yards) and C.J. Anderson (790
yards, 15 TDs) were a great 1-2 punch. Now Brendan Bigelow (431 yards) and
Daniel Lasco (109 yards) will need to take on those roles. Though he lacks
starting experience, Bigelow is an exciting weapon that can burn opposing
defenses. The junior averaged 9.8 yards per carry last season.
The offensive line is also retooling with just left guard Jordan Rigsbee and
Chris Adcock returning as starters.
DEFENSE: A new scheme and a new coordinator are coming to campus for the
Golden Bears' defense. New defensive coordinator Andy Buh, who was most
recently the linebackers coach at Wisconsin, will be installing a 4-3
formation to replace the 3-4 of years past.
Luckily for Buh there is a good group of players up front that will benefit
from a shift to a defensive scheme that relies more heavily on defensive line
Deandre Coleman (48 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks), Chris McCain (50 tackles,
8.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks) and Brennan Scarlett (40 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks) are
all back to man spots on the line and should be even more productive this
season. Add in promising junior Mustafa Jalil and the group could be one of
the more formidable in the conference.
Nick Forbes recorded 84 total tackles and was also effective in getting into
the backfield, recording 4.5 tackles for loss as he returns for his junior
season at linebacker. Helping to ease the transition under Buh will be Jalen
Jefferson, who totaled 48 tackles last season and has starting experience.
Where the biggest question marks on defense loom are in the secondary. Josh
Hill led the team in tackles (87) and Steve Williams was an All-Pac-12
honorable mention at cornerback. Neither returns. Free safety Michael Lowe,
who had 69 tackles and tied for a team-high with three interceptions, will be
called upon to lead the way for the developing group.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Vincenzo D'Amato will be back to handle kicking duties after he
knocked through 16-of-23 field goal and 30-of-33 extra point attempts last
season. The Golden Bears are also set at punter as Cole Leininger returns
after booting 60 punts an average of 40 yards a year ago.
In the return game Bigelow was exciting, averaging 23.1 yards per kickoff
return, but will likely be saved to keep him healthy on offense. Therefore
Treggs and Lasco should take on the returning duties.
OUTLOOK: There is optimism in Berkeley with Dykes coming in. However, Golden
Bears' fans may be in for a tough first ride under their new head coach. The
schedule just doesn't line up in California's favor and while playing tough
games is admirable, it isn't going to help in the way of picking up victories.
California opens the season on August 31 at home against a Northwestern team
that is largely intact from the 10-win rendition a year ago. Then after a
respite against FCS foe Portland State, the Golden Bears host Ohio State and
visit Oregon in consecutive games. That brutal stretch is followed up by a
home game against Washington State before another tough time with three
difficult games (at UCLA, Oregon State, at Washington) in a row. The last
month of the season also has important battles with USC and Arizona as well as
the season finale at Stanford, though a visit to Colorado should give the
Golden Bears a bit of a break.
Drastic change is coming for California under the ridiculously high-tempo of
Dykes' offense. However with such changes comes a lot of growing pains.
California has some very good options at several spots on the roster but not
enough to think a winning season is on the horizon.
The Sports Network