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Depth chart released

As expected, the depth chart was released today. Some general thoughts about the offense to follow up on my previous post:

  • On the offensive line Rigsbee got moved back to his natural spot at right tackle and Chris Adcock, coming off of injury that kept him low on the depth chart at the end of spring, back at center. Otherwise the lineup is unchanged from the Spring. Matt Cochran, Brian Farley and Dominic Granado appear to be the ones who provide the key depth. If they live up to their hype that’s not bad depth to have.
  • Austin Hinder appears to have made a bit of a “late charge” in fall camp and is now an “OR” with Rubenzer for the backup QB spot. My gut is that Rubenzer is the true number 2, but there’s enough of a desire to hang on to his redshirt that Hinder may get some time. So when a backup is needed for a few plays in the 1st few games (where the redshirt can still be preserved) you’ll see Rubenzer. Once we get past that point, any short term replacement would go to Hinder. But if Goff goes down for a few games, then burning the redshirt will be a lot more tempting, until it’s the final few games of the season.
  • Khalfani Muhammad is the starting RB and I’m pretty happy about that. But expect to see plenty of Lasco.
  • Harper has slipped a bit amongst the WRs only getting an “or” for one of the 4 starting spots. Steven Anderson and Trevor Davis are the ones who have clearly impressed the staff and both got a starting spot alongside Treggs and Lawler.
  • I’ll cover the defensive groups separately in a combined position group/depth chart post shortly.

Time to retire a 2nd number?

I’ve been reluctant to post on the subject of Ted Agu’s passing. There seemed to be very little accurate and detailed info the first few days and I wanted to let the dust settle before sticking my foot in my mouth.

Well, it’s been a few days and no more meaningful info has come out. No cause of death. No more details about the nature of the difficulty he was having before he collapsed. No confirmation of the rumor he had Sickle Cell trait.

I sure hope the details eventually come to light so that something can be learned from this. If/when they do, I will comment more.

But in the meantime, I wanted to put an idea out there…

Should #35 be retired?

I must admit I didn’t know anything about Ted Agu until this happened. But from what I’ve read, and I’ve got a strong BS meter for the posthumous deification of people who die a tragic death, he seems like a great guy. It’s pretty clear he loved football and was on the team for all the right reasons. And anyone who dies in the pursuit of excellence for the team, deserves to be recognized.

Retiring his number would be the greatest honor we could give him.

Usually retired numbers are reserved for those who excel on the field. Cal has one retired number, and it is for someone with great on the field success, who also lived an exemplary yet short life off the field. I think it would be a nice bookend to also have someone who lived a similarly exemplary yet short life without the same on the field success.

Thoughts?

McCain re-instated

Wow, this is a pretty big surprise: Pac-12 removes 1/2 game suspension of McCain.

As we know, it’s very, very, very rare that the conference back-tracks on any officiating decision.

Of course, despite the fact that they’re blaming the change of heart on not following proper review procedures for that targeting rule, I’m pretty confident that if the call hadn’t been so objectionable, the suspension wouldn’t have been overturned, irrelevant of procedural issues.

The simple truth was it was a bad call and anyone who spent the time to review it felt the same way.

Thoughts on Goff being named the QB starter

For those who haven’t heard, Jared Goff has been named the starting quarterback.

This was a moderate surprise to those who have believed the rumor mill dating back to the 2012 season that Zack Kline was the program’s savior, but for those who had been paying attention, it wasn’t that much of a surprise:

  • Coach Sonny has long said that the keys to being his QB was consistency, accuracy and quick decision making. Who’s been most consistent since Spring practice? Who’s the only one who can somewhat routinely hit the trash can in their throwing drill (accuracy)? I think the thing that has been hindering Goff has been the decision making, but the word on the street is that he’s improved dramatically since Spring practice and is doing as well if not better than Kline.
  • Which QB was recruited by Sonny? I think the tie goes to the guy that the head coach recruited.
  • As Dykes said in his comments, Goff isn’t really a “true-freshman”, he’s an early-enrolled freshman. Being here for spring practice, and then having the time between then and now to absorb the system makes a WORLD of difference in regards to freshmen QBs.
  • Kline just threw too many interceptions in practice to make his case. He may have one heck of an arm, but the new offense is predicated more on accurate short throws instead of long passes.

And here’s the kicker, the lore around Kline, is just that: lore. Lot’s of people were sick of Maynard last year. Lot’s of people wanted a change. And is the case on every team where the starting quarterback is struggling, the backup QB is the knight in shining armor ready to save the team. But the few times I saw him play in practices I was never really overly impressed. That’s not to say he didn’t have potential. That’s not to say he wouldn’t have been a better choice than Maynard. But it is to say he was no miracle savior.

But the rumor mill/peanut gallery/fanciful dreamer crowd was just too strong in creating a fairy tale that Kline was this semi-mythic recruit destined to save the program once he was given the chance.

News flash: It just wasn’t based on facts.

This if of course not to say that Goff was for sure the right choice. I don’t really know (and unless you’ve been at all the practices, you don’t know either). But what I do know is that this shouldn’t be a shocking surprise. Goff earned being named the starting QB and most showed the characteristics that make a good QB, particularly in Dykes system. I’m looking forward to seeing him perform on 8/31.

GO BEARS!

Cal Football’s first Hall of Famer

A few years ago I realized that no Cal football players have ever been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And so immediately my attention turned to Tony Gonzalez, who seemed to be a lock to become Cal’s first Hall of Famer. He’s one of the best tight ends ever, and I saw him play. That’s cool.

Since that initial revelation, I’ve realized that Aaron Rodgers now stands a decent chance to get to the Hall too, given his strong numbers so far and the fact that once a quarterback wins a Super Bowl, the threshhold for hall induction is a lot lower. (Not Trent Dilfer low, but low.) A-Rodg just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing and he’ll probably make it.

But it’s all academic now, because as of this weekend, Cal has its first Pro Football Hall of Famer: Les Richter.

Richter played for Cal during the Pappy Waldorf era, specifically as a linebacker for Cal’s 1949-51 squads. During those three seasons he played on two Rose Bowl teams, which says a lot about how good Cal was back then and how bad it’s been since. Yes: Les Richter played on Cal’s second-to-most recent Rose Bowl team.

Richter went on to play in the NFL for the L.A. Rams from 1954-1962, then retired and got into motor sports and motor sports venues, becoming a NASCAR executive. He died in June 2010, and his son Jon was on hand to pose with his father’s bust at the enshrinement over the weekend in Canton, Ohio.

Congratulations to the Richter family and to every Cal fan out there—there is now a Golden Bear player in the Hall of Fame! Now we’re only two behind Stanford.

Maynard named the starter

In what to me was somewhat surprising news, Maynard has been named the starting QB.

What wasn’t surprising was that Maynard was named based on the media reports. Quotes from Tedford have repeatedly reflected that he saw Maynard as the one in the lead. Similarly the reports from the open practices indicated Maynard was getting more than his share of 1st team snaps.

But based on what I saw at the one open practice I was able to see, this was VERY surprising. In fairness, the practice I went to was an early one, so Maynard was still early in the process of getting comfortable. But he just looked horrible. Nevertheless, who am I to question? I didn’t see all that much.

The other surprising bit was naming it shortly after spring practice wrapped up. This is definitely a change in form for Tedford who hasn’t named a starting QB before fall practice when there wasn’t an incumbent since… um… never. OK, I don’t know that for sure, but someone else can do the research and report back. :) Suffice it to say, I can’t think of a time he did it.

But the logic seems sound. Tedford wants Maynard, who is new to the program to be able to have a leadership role during the un-coached summer sessions and be in a good position for success when fall practice starts. If Maynard truly has shown that he’s picking up the playbook quickly, particularly when combined with his year of starting experience at Buffalo, there’s reason to be hopeful that with more time as the clear leader through summer and fall, he’ll be ready to excel come the first game.

Another unstated reason for the announcement may be for the coaching staff to start thinking about offensive strategy now that we’ve got a QB with some dual-threat capabilities. One doesn’t put in some QB running plays overnight. If the staff is going to do that, they need to be working on it right now.

While I don’t expect wholesale changes, it’ll be interesting to see what new wrinkles are in the offense next season. And here’s my prediction: If Tedford has a scheming trick up his sleeve, we won’t see it right away. He’s going to wait for the game when he most needs it. (UW? USC?)

Vereen to go to NFL

Shane Vereen has decided to go to the NFL.

Of course no one is shocked by the news, but I’m a bit surprised. Of course the fact that he’s finished his degree has a lot to do with it, but I just had a gut feeling that he felt like he had unfinished business and wanted to go out with a bowl win. Apparently not.

In any case, Vereen, you were a great Golden Bear and we’ll always remember your work ethic, your team-centered attitude and your fantastic athletic ability. Good luck in the NFL.

Update: Here is the official Cal release.

Riley is officially done

Word came out last night that the two MRIs, while still compromised because of the swelling, show that Kevin Riley’s career is over. Update 11/2 @ 11:30 AM: Got word from the free board on bearterritory.net:

He suffered a 60% tear in his gastrocnmius muscle in his calf, grade 2 strains to his LCL and MCL, and ruptured capsules in the back of his left knee. healing time is five weeks, full rehab is three months.

end update

Obviously the news is no surprise, but I didn’t want to post on the subject until it was official. Now that it is, I have a few words to say to him:

Hold your head high.

You gave it your all. You were a dedicated Golden Bear. “The Bear will not quit. The Bear will not die.” You lived up to that mantra. You were given more than your share of adversity and every week you came ready to play and never once gave into despair. You poured your heart and soul into the team. That is all one can ask and you will long stay in my memory as a Golden Bear worth honoring.

Good luck in your future endeavors and God Bless.

Divisional alignment set?

Well, it looks as though some unintended leaks have happened on how the divisions might split. Jon Wilner writes what he learns from WeAReSC.com. The athletic directors voted 7-5 in favor of putting Cal and Stanford in the north.

Now… that’s not the vote that counts. The President’s vote next week does. And since it was 7-5, all it takes is a swap or two and we’re back to a different plan. Also not decided is whether the conference will preserve the annual California school games like it has in the past. The USC guy calls that the 5-2-2 (5 division games, 2 games against the other California schools and 2 non-divisional games).

I’ve always thought the 5-2-2 doesn’t have a chance in Hades. There’s no way the northwest schools will accept the resulting loss in exposure in California, particularly southern California. Ted Miller thinks that revenue sharing changes will allow for a compromise, but I highly doubt that.

Personally, I don’t really care if we’re in the same division as the soCal schools, I just want to play them every year. Particularly if the Pac-12 decides to only count divisional record for who goes to the championship game, something I’m told the SEC does, the 5-2-2 would probably be the most desirable result as we’d get to play all the northwest schools and the soCal schools every year, the teams I care most about, while not having the tough games against the soCal schools counting against our conference title chances.

But as I said, I just don’t see that happening.

So if this news is true and holds true through the president’s meeting, the annual games with UCLA and USC may be down the tubes. Or it might mean we’re on track to the best case scenario. Or not.

Jahvid’s Gone

Jahvid Best will enter the NFL draft.

Can’t say I’m surprised, but it’s always sad to see those stars leave early. I wish him great success.

More thoughts from Ken:

I wish him the best as well and am similarly as unsurprised.

I worry a great deal about his future in the NFL with his injuries and his style which didn’t seem to have as much success when matched up against players with speed (and all the players in the NFL have speed). But here’s hoping he’s Cal’s next example of good play in the NFL following in the recent footsteps of Lynch, DeSean, and Rodgers.

Best out for UW game

For those who haven’t heard, Tedford announced at the Press Conference on Tuesday that Best will not play in the UW game. This actually surprised me. He hasn’t had any concussion symptoms for multiple weeks and his sore back is a lot better from what I’ve heard. But I think it’s a sign of just how careful Tedford wants to be with Best after such a horrific fall.

I’m pretty confident he’ll be back for the bowl game.

Let Best Rest

Jahvid Best seems to have sustained a concussion but otherwise can move his extremities, according to the AP.

That’s fantastic news after what was a terrifying scene at Memorial Stadium tonight.

Hopefully a concussion is all it is. However, given that Best apparently suffered a “mild” (and I use the term loosely) concussion against Arizona State, let me say this as a Cal fan.

After two concussions, Best should sit it out. And I’m talking the month of November, and possibly December.

Brain injuries are serious business. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in the New Yorker if you want to question yourself about being a football fan, given the damage it does to the brains of many players.

I’m sure the doctors and coaches at Cal take this seriously. So should the fans. Jahvid Best is a wonderful athlete to behold. But I’m not interested in watching him risk serious brain injury by returning too soon. If Jahvid needs to hang ‘em up for the rest of the season, I’m going to take a breath and say it’s absolutely the right thing to do. Even if we want to see him play, and Cal win, his health comes first.

All our best to Jahvid and his family.

D’Amato to start

Well, it’s not often I get surprised by something, but this one caught me completely off-guard. Perhaps it is because I haven’t been able to go to practice and watch (and so haven’t seen D’Amato come on)…

In any case, D’Amato has been named the starting place kicker for the Maryland game. Tavecchio will do kickoffs.

Which is about the exact opposite of what I expected at the beginning of fall camp. I thought that Tavecchio would be the place kicker and that if D’Amato was going to play, he’d be doing kickoffs. But when I saw D’Amato practice during the fall and his kickoffs were not that long, I assumed Tavecchio was going to have all the kicking duties and perhaps Seawright would overtake Tavecchio for place kicker.

Let’s hope Tavecchio’s form is at its best, because when it is he can get the ball well into the endzone on kickoffs (and when he isn’t it can be pretty short), which to me is what we’re most missing on special teams.

Riley as the starting QB

Well surprising no one who’s name isn’t Brock Mansion’s little brother (because even Brock himself saw the writing on the wall), Tedford announced that Riley will be the starter in the Maryland game.

I figured this is as good a time as ever to speak to my expectations for Riley this season.

I try really hard to be an honest assessor of the Bears, but I find myself having a hard time not being a homer for Riley this fall. Remember, I’m the same guy who, while not reaching Hydrolic Technician levels, was defensive of Longshore’s performance in 2007 and not sold on Riley after the Armed Forces bowl. I was also unsure of who I thought should start in just about every 2008 game (although the Emerald Bowl answer a lot of my unanswered questions in Riley’s favor).

Point being, I’m not naturally a Riley Homer.

But I just can’t get the feeling out of my head that this is going to be a break-through year for him. I get the feeling his mechanics are very good and what defects develop over the course of a season (it happens to every QB) will be easily corrected during practice. I get the feeling that the game slowed down A LOT for him in the off-season and he’ll make a lot of good reads. I get the feeling that he gets the progressions and when and how to know when to use his outlet options while not ignoring the big play opportunities. I get the feeling that he’s learned how to deal with defensive pressure both how to read their formations and after the snap.

But most importantly, I get the feeling that this is Riley’s team. Nobody was fooled by the off-season indecision of Tedford and every player instinctively knew who was going to be under center when the season kicked off. And this team needed that. They needed to know who their leader in the huddle was going to be.

So I’m left being a Riley Homer, or better stated, a Riley believer. If he delivers, it’s going to open up the run game for Best and this may be a very special season in Berkeley.

Tad Smith out for season

OUCH!

Looks like that knee injury that Tad Smith got early in the scrimmage on Tuesday was as bad as it could be: Torn ACL. He’s out for the season.

There’s a lot of depth at tight end so while Tad will be missed, I don’t think it’ll change things much. Anthony Miller becomes the new #1 with Curran and Sparks being his biggest challengers for now and Ladner having the skills to press for time too once he recovers from his injuries.

Drafted Bears

Well, three Bears were drafted: Mack, Follet and Morrah.

UPDATE on free-agents as of 1:00 PM PDT Monday:

  • Rulon Davis signed with Denver.
  • Will To’ufo’ou signed with Chicago.
  • Anthony Felder signed with San Diego.
  • Nick Sundberg signed with Carolina.
  • Longshore has been invited to tryout at Miami

Some quick thoughts:

  • Mack at #21 overall… that says something about his play and potential at center. He’s getting the reward for all his years of hard preparation and hard play. From what I understand it’s been a full decade since a center went as high as Mack.
  • Morrah as one of the last players drafted… what was he thinking by going pro? I think he would have done a lot better in the draft with another year under his belt. He would never have been a 1st rounder, but he could have been a 3rd rounder and there’s an amazingly big difference in your long term prospects (team made bigger investment in you, thereby ensuring they’re not going to dump you for no reason) when you’re a middle rounder than one of the last picks. Morrah was just a 5 minute conversation from going undrafted. I wish the best for him and hope that he recovers from what appears to have been a bad decision. He always struck me as a very nice guy when interviewing him.
  • Follett in the 7th round… personally I think the Lions got a good deal on Follett. He’s got both the determination and the raw athletic skill to be a servicable NFL linebacker.
  • Personally I think Rulon Davis is the player who most deserved to get drafted but didn’t. I know it’s all about his injury prone history, but it’s also good to hear he was picked up by the Denver Broncos as a free-agent today.
  • One of my personal favorite players on the Cal team the last few years was Will To’ufo’ou so I hate to say this, but I think yesterday was proof that college was the end of the road for both him and Worrell Williams. They’re players who played with a lot of heart and were very good college players but just don’t have the tools (Williams lacks speed, To’ufo’ou lacks size) to play at the pro level. I suspect both will get a shot with a free agent contract, but I fear particularly for To’ufo’ou that it won’t last long.
  • Finally, Longshore. People keep telling me that he’s going to get picked up as a free-agent but I just don’t see it, and I’m saying this as a guy who was supportive of him when the walls came crumbling down in 2007. He’s just got too many question marks in my mind. But I of course could be wrong.

So, there you have it. There’s also Felder and Sundberg out there who could get picked up by someone.

Overall, what this says to me is that last years team was a lot less “talent rich” than it appeared. Anyone know when the last time Cal had only three drafted guys? (I don’t feel like spending the time to figure out how to figure it out.) Last year clearly was not the most talented Cal team out there. With that in mind, it seems to me that expectations last year were a bit high and since the team met those expectations I’ve got to feel like the team over-achieved a bit. I still would have liked to walk away from both Maryland and Arizona without that bad taste in my mouth to really feel like they fully achieved everything the team was capable of, but at the same time, I don’t feel so bad about walking away from Corvalis knowing we lost to a team with 4 defensive draft picks and 6 overall.

UPDATE on how weak draft effects recruiting:

Some have mentioned that they see the biggest impact of the weak draft being on recruiting. The thought is that the potential recruits are looking at how much respect the program gets with NFL teams. They’re looking to get drafted themselves someday and they would hope that they’d get the benefit of the doubt. Some teams get it (USC) some teams don’t (Washington State). Where does Cal fit in?

Well, I think it is a reasonable perspective, but I think it’s not a very big deal to have one weak year. Cal has had a lot of strong years of late, and this is just one setback. When one couples all the other positives with the Bears including the press that guys like Jahvid Best is getting now and DeSean, Marshawn and Rodgers have gotten in the past. Everyone besides USC on the west coast has had a bad year in the last few years, Cal would not be alone here. Add in that Cal has a lot going for it with the SAHPC, a team with a 4 season bowl winning streak and a number of other upsides and I think recruits will be plenty satisfied that one weak draft year is not indicative of the program.

Update on Tad Smith

Most of you who read the spring practice reports from all the other forums already know this, but Tad Smith’s injury looks to be on the short side of the initial estimates. They expect him to be back before fall practice.

That’s very good news. While Anthony Miller looks to have what it takes to make the jump to starter, I don’t get the feeling Curran or Ladner (yet) would be a very satisfying replacement for Morrah. Particularly since I get the feeling we’ll be seeing more two tight-end sets in 2009 (with less strength at fullback, it’s a different way to get an extra blocker in there), it’s important we have two guys (Tad and Anthony) who can fill that role.

Longshore to start

Yes, it’s official. Longshore is going to start the Emerald Bowl.

Most people thought when Tedford openned back up the QB position for the Emerald bowl it was just a ploy to either keep Miami on their toes or to keep Riley motivated to push hard. Well Tedford outdid himself in the surprise category yesterday by announcing that Longshore would start.

Make sure to vote in the poll. Is this the right choice?

NFL draft

I’m not one who cares much about this sort of thing, but just for the record:

  1. DeSean Jackson: 2nd round, #18 (49th overall) to Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Craig Stevens: 3rd round, #12 (85th) to Tennessee Titans
  3. Thomas DeCoud: 3rd round, #35 (98th) to Atlanta Falcons
  4. Lavelle Hawkins: 4th round, #27 (126th) to Tennessee Titans
  5. Mike Gibson: 6th round, #18 (184th) to Philadelphia Eagles
  6. Justin Forsett: 7th round, #24 (233rd) to Seattle Seahawks

DeSean slipping to mid-second round and Mike Gibson getting drafted were only two surprises in the Cal list.

Back to Cal football…

DeSean to go pro

DeSean Jackson announced at the 1 PM press phone conference that he is going to go pro. No surprise there.

I wish him the best at the next level.