Cal enters the 2021 season with loads of causes to really feel assured. It begins with expertise boosted by eight sixth-year gamers. One among them is starting his seventh faculty soccer season.
However, as at all times, there are questions looming over the season. If Cal gives the fitting solutions, it could assemble a profitable marketing campaign. Proper now, all we’ve got are the questions.
In Half 2 of our four-part collection previewing the Bears’ season, listed below are 5 vital questions:
1. Can the offense blossom in Yr 2 beneath Invoice Musgrave?
There isn’t any bigger query looming over this program than whether or not the Cal offense can lastly start to tug it personal weight.
The Bears have been among the many Pac-12’s greatest defensive groups since coach Justin Wilcox arrived on campus in 2017. However the Cal offense typically has been barely useful.
They have been eleventh within the convention in scoring a 12 months in the past at 20.3 factors, and final within the Pac-12 the 2 seasons earlier than that, averaging 21.2 and 21.5 factors. This isn’t the Nineteen Seventies, and even good defensive applications should rating greater than this to compete with one of the best groups.
Invoice Musgrave introduced in his a number of, pro-style offense final season however COVID-19 derailed any probability for a standard 2020 offseason or coaching camp. So whereas the Bears have been stalled final 12 months, they’ve gotten full alternative to arrange for this season, have a senior quarterback in Chase Garbers and higher depth all over the place else on offense.
In addition they don’t have any extra excuses for not turning into a succesful offense.
2. Have the Bears repaired their particular groups?
Cal was 1-3 a 12 months in the past however with out a lot creativeness may have been 3-1. The distinction was malfunctions on particular groups in slim defeats to Oregon State and Stanford.
The Bears have a strong placekicker (Dario Longhetto) and punter (Jamieson Sheahan) however they can not afford breakdowns in safety that result in blocked kicks or expensive penalties on returns.
3. Can Cal will get its traditional manufacturing at inside linebacker?
In 2018, Evan Weaver had 159 tackles and Jordan Kunaszyk made 148. No tandem within the nation matched the manufacturing of Cal’s two inside linebackers.
A 12 months later, Weaver collected a school-record 182 tackles and his new ILB companion, Kuony Deng, contributed 119.
Deng has been moved full-time to the skin, the place he joins Cameron Goode to present the Bears a pleasant 1-2 punch of tremendous seniors on the place. However how good will the Bears be inside, the place visitors is heavy and have to excel is paramount?
The task falls to sophomore Mo Iosefa and junior Evan Tattersall, who every began twice final season whereas combining for 26 tackles. The teaching employees is optimistic however the jury is out.
4. Will quarterback Chase Garbers keep wholesome and do the Bears have a succesful backup within the occasion he can’t play?
Nearly as good Garbers was in 2019, he was injured twice, creating the notion that he has bother staying wholesome. Final fall, in the course of the Bears’ four-game schedule, Garbers demonstrated that he understands keep away from pointless contact and, specifically, the necessity to slide whereas scrambling to remain in a single piece.
The offensive line is liable for preserve its quarterback secure, however the QB has a hand on this, too. If Garbers stays good, solely dangerous luck will take him down.
Graduate switch Ryan Glover was named the No. 2 quarterback on Tuesday, and whereas he has by no means performed on the FBS degree he brings expertise as a starter at each Western Carolina and Penn. Ready behind him are sophomore Zach Johnson and freshman Kai Millner.
5. Can the Bears keep away from hiccups towards groups they need to beat?
There are 5 video games on the schedule Cal ought to win: Sacramento State, Washington State, Colorado and Oregon State at house, and Arizona on the street. It is troublesome to keep away from tripping up someplace alongside the schedule, but when the Bears are as much as snuff these matchups ought to produce 5 victories.
Street video games towards TCU, Washington and Oregon will probably be difficult, as will a house date vs. USC. Perhaps the Bears win one or two of them, perhaps not.
That leaves three video games that can dictate the arc of Cal’s season: at house vs. Nevada within the Saturday opener, and season-ending street video games vs. Stanford and UCLA. Win two of them and a seven-win season — or higher — is cheap to check.
Cowl picture of Stanford blocking a Cal PAT strive within the 2020 Massive Recreation by Kyle Terada, USA Right this moment
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