2012 California Golden Bears Football Preview
2011 Record: 7-6 (4-5 PAC-12)
Head Coach: Jeff Tedford, eleventh season (79-48 all at California)
Projected Returning Starters: 11
Spring Game: April 21st (Gold 21 Blue 20)
Notes: Coach Tedford is the longest serving PAC-12 coach. He also has the most victories of any California coach, with 79. Despite that success, some still feel Tedford is on the hot seat. Two of Tedford’s best seasons, 2003 and 2004, were quarterbacked by little known Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers was a community college transfer, not because of grades, but because of perceived ability. In those seasons, Cal finished no worse than fourth. Tedford is 5-3 in bowl games, only failing to appear in two seasons. Coach Tedford is under contract through 2015.
BVTSB Take: Only Arizona State is more inexperienced than California. The Golden Bears return 11 starters, with six being on the offensive side. More importantly, though, the Golden Bears return to Memorial Stadium. They played their home games at AT&T Park last season, home of the San Francisco Giants, due to renovations at Memorial Stadium. Under Tedford, the Golden Bears are 43-14 at Memorial Stadium, while they are 26-29 on the road. Quarterback Zach Maynard returns for his senior season – he has thrown for at least 2600 yards in each of the last two seasons (2990 last year) and at least 17 touchdowns each season. Turnovers continue to be a problem for Maynard though, as he had 12 interceptions last season and 15 in 2010. After throwing 10 interceptions in his first eight games (4-4), he only threw 2 in his last four (3-2). Maynard will have some help in the backfield as well, as Isi Sofele returns. Sofele had over 1300 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns last year. Cal had roughly an even split on rushing and passing attempts last season, but Sofele accounted for over half of Cal’s rushing attempts. There is no reason to expect Sofele’s numbers to go down this year. Second leading receiver Marvin Jones was selected by the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals (846 yards receiving, 13.6/catch, and three touchdowns) and third leading receiver Michael Calvin will be a member of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons (269 yards receiving, 13.5/catch, and 1 touchdown). Junior Keenan Allen will be back to lead the wide receiving corps – he had 98 catches in 2011 for 1343 receiving yards and six touchdowns; he led all Cal receivers in each of those categories. California does have some inexperience on the left side of the offensive line though, as LG Jordan Rigsbee and LT Freddie Tagaloa are projected to start. C Brian Schwenke (12 starts in 2011), RG Dominic Galas (13 starts at center in 2011), and RT Matt Summers-Gavin (13 starts in 2011) provide much needed leadership on the line. California went 3-0 in non-conference last season, beating Fresno State, Colorado (game was originally a non-conference game before the Buffaloes joined the PAC-12), and Presbyterian, winning each game by an average of 23 (won at Colorado in overtime by 3). This year, the non-conference schedule is much tougher, as the Golden Bears face Nevada and Southern Utah at home, then travel to Ohio State. They travel to USC the week after the Ohio State game; Washington State, Utah, and Oregon State are also PAC-12 road games. Outside of USC, the road schedule is very favorable. Arizona, State, UCLA, Stanford, Washington, and Oregon are the conference home games. California should be back in the post-season and could be a dark horse contender to win the PAC-12 North, especially with Stanford and Oregon at home.
2012 Early Projection: 7-5
To see the 2012 PAC-12 composite schedule, click here.
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