UW Football Schedule Primer – California


University of California, Berkeley (Public – Research Institution)
Mascot: Golden Bears
Location: Berkeley, CA
Enrollment: 35,800

Date: 9/24/11

2010 Record: 5-7 (3-6 in Pac-10 Conference)
Coach: Jeff Tedford (9th year)

First Thought: Cal will play its home games this year at AT&T Park at Candlestick in San Francisco while Memorial Stadium is being renovated.

Second Thought: The week before traveling to Seattle to play UW, Cal will play a home game against Presbyterian College, a FCS school in Clinton, SC. What makes the game all the more unusual is that the Blue Hose (no, I did not make that up) only finished 2-9 last season losing to schools like Gardner-Webb and Stony Brook. So, while UW will be returning home from Nebraska that week, Cal will have rested and practiced against a school with only 1,200 students who can barely beat teams in its own division.

Best Win: 50-17 over Arizona State
Worst Loss: 35-7 at Oregon State

Last Game: 16-13 loss at home to Washington. Go Dawgs!

Background: California has been a very difficult team to figure out the past few seasons. While Jeff Tedford has made them competitive in a way they were not before his arrival, they seem to have a lot of difficulties with consistency. In 2004, Cal was 10-1 and #4 in the nation and expecting to get a BCS berth. But, unfortunately some big time lobbying by Mack Brown got the voters to make some major vote switching and Texas got the berth instead. In 2007, Cal was ranked #2 in the nation with a 5-0 record before going on to lose six of its last seven games to finish 7-6. In 2008, Cal went 9-4 and finished the season strong with 3 straight wins including a win over Miami (FL) in the Emerald Bowl. There was a lot of optimism that Cal was on the way up in 2009 and when they went into Husky Stadium at 8-3 and ranked #19 in the country there was every reason to believe the hype until they were pummelled 42-10 by Jake Locker. 2010 ended up very disappointing at 5-7 including losing 4 of their last 5 games.

Synopsis: The confidence is not really there in Berkeley this year. Tedford does not appear to have rejuvenated his team with strong recruiting classes the past couple of years and so the cupboard appears pretty bare right now. In the pre-season media poll, Cal was predicted to finish 5th out of 6 teams in the Pac-12 North Division (anyone want to guess who was ranked below them?).

Cal has major question marks at QB going into this season. Senior Brock Mansion finished the season as the starter last year after Kevin Riley was injured. But, Mansion was very ineffective. Thus, when junior Zach Maynard transferred over from Buffalo and beat out Mansion for the starting node in the spring, things got a little hazy. But, what will Maynard do? Early reports out of training camp are that Maynard hasn’t been impressive in practice yet…So, this will be interesting to see if he can get comfortable with the offense or if Tedford opts for Mansion or sophomore 3rd stringer Allan Bridgford i things start badly.

Another area where Cal is rebuilding is that the running back position. Fans in Berkeley are really excited about 4-star recruit Brendan Bigelow competing right away for the starting spot. But, he is coming off ACL surgery and he has to get past junior Isi Sofele. Tedford brought in four running backs in this recruiting class to compete with other returning players who all happened to be coming off injuries.

If there is any good news on the offense, it is that Cal has an experienced and talented offensive line. They also have a group of solid wide recievers, including the tandem of Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen who may not be burners, but have good hands.

Defensively, Cal has a talented and deep front line and linebacker corps that ranked #18 in the nation last year in total defense. They are anchored by senior linebackers Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt.  Where Cal is potentially very weak is in the secondary. They have very few established players back there, especially at the safety positions where they lost Chris Conte to the NFL Draft. It would make sense for opposing offenses to test that secondary early and often.

Whether Keith Price has the arm strength and confidence to go deep over secondary remains to be seen. But, with a recieving corp of Kasen Williams, Jermaine Kearse, and Devin Aguilar (Plus Austin Sefarian-Jenkins at TE), it seems like it would be worth the risk.

If UW can have some success against their secondary, things will also begin to open up on the offensive line as the linebackers need to step back into pass coverage (especially if ASJ is catching them all day from 8-10 yards out). That would certainly help open up routes for Chris Polk to exploit the seems.

This is one of those games UW absolutely must win if they hope to return to a bowl game this year. A home game victory against a theoretically weaker opponent in September is critical to the Huskies psychie, especially after what will probably be a big loss on the road to Nebraska. In addition, following this game, they will have a really tough matchup on the road against Utah the following week. They need to try and go into that game with momentum. All in all, I feel confidence that UW will be able to beat this mediocre Cal team.

Prediction: UW 27 Cal 13