By Jonathan Okanes
Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 12:47 pm in off-season stuff.
It’s a slow week because of spring break — Cal will return to spring practice one week from today — so I thought I would list a reminder of where the Bears stand in some of the preseason rankings that have already been released.
Rivals.com has Cal the highest I’ve seen yet, at No. 12 nationally. CBS Sportsline ranks the Bears at No. 17 while espn.com and sportsillustrated.com each has Cal at No. 20.
Of course, these are very early estimates and a lot can still happen between now and September. The Bears don’t even know who their starting quarterback is going to be yet. And there are several top teams across the country that have their issues.
To me, Cal’s preseason ranking and what the Bears ultimately do this season depends on the passing game. If Cal gets better play from its quarterback and wide receivers, everything else seems to be in place for a run at the Pac-10 title and a top-10 or top-15 ranking. If the Bears have to once again rely to heavily on their defense and don’t have the threat of an aerial attack to help Jahvid Best, they’ll probably once again be a borderline top-25 team.
My hunch is the passing game will improve. If nothing else, experience matters. Kevin Riley has looked good so far this spring, and the growing pains the receivers went through last year should only help their on-field production this year.
I’d put Cal somewhere between No. 15 and No. 20 nationally to begin the season.