Cal football: Recapping early prognostications

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.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • wehofx

    JO, couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the team and their prospects for next year. Thanks for updates. They are much appreciated.

    What is your impression of Ludwig, especially his work with the QB’s?

    Go Bears!

  • rookie

    JO, how much of a QB competition do you really think there will be this year? While I thought the Longshore/Riley thing was a good way to push those two I felt it ultimately hurt us, especially with young receivers. It makes me wonder do you really think JT would want to do that dance this year again?

  • Lucky

    Hey JO,

    Really strong rationale and assessment of the team. I couldn’t agree more – they need to really improve the passing game (never thought I’d say that about a Tedford offense) and QB situation. And the defense needs to really pour it on after last season’s success.

    But why are we still not getting the recruits? I cannot believe how poorly we do every year – even compared to other Pac-10 schools like UCLA, ASU and Stanford. What gives? I don’t think we’ll ever be a solid top-10 school without better and deep recruiting in this day and age.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Wehofx, obviously it’s a little early to be making grand conclusions, but the one thing that has struck me so far about Ludwig is that he seems to be really hands on. He’s very involved during practices, and seems to have really immersed himself for a guy who hasn’t been here very long.
    Rookie, I think Tedford is pretty committed to giving all the quarterbacks a look. If Riley or someone else clearly outplays the field, then I think you’ll see him commit. But don’t expect that to happen until the fall.
    Lucky, recruiting was going well up until last year. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the 2007 season set the program back a bit as far as recruiting. They couldn’t maintain what they had built in 2004 and 2006. Top recruits want to go to the top programs, for the most part. Cal is going to have to get back into the national conversation again to start getting the top guys again.

  • Jan K Oski

    Thanks JO for your great thoughts! You’re really getting my excited about this year… Go BEARS!

  • Locamotion

    Jo, since you mentioned lugwig is very involved. What was Cignetti’s style and how do they differ. It seems that We (CAL) are doing a wonderful job at least getting mentioned by 2010 out of state recruits. Has Ted & staff been going at it a whole lot harder, offering earlier, taking school trips, etc, or has Ted invested more money in national recruiting services.

  • rookie

    Thanks JO

  • Rock

    Jonathan – and what do you think about the kinds of ratings Oregon’s been getting? Seem awfully high given their personnel losses.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Esteemed words from a former student at the #1 government supported and run public university in the country.

    “i know its been a long time since i left you witout some dope words to make fun of … but im back in the yard to say whats up … its been kinda rough dis last month on me… but i held it together and stayed strong … i figured what don’t kill me make me stronger… i know i messed up before and even fumbled, but it’s something about me that a lot of people wouldn’t believe… i put my shirt and pants on da same way u do… but on a nother note, we started workouts again and its time to do work all over again… hold ya chin up… nuh nuh nuh… gone”

    Marshawn Lynch

  • AmyFan4Life

    Amy, Do you have a sample of Rey’s wonderlic quiz? Maybe, you could places it on one of your Scout profiles. Opps! You don’t have one!

    Oh yeah, how many grammar and spelling errors have you committed in post for the past week? Hint: Lynch and you could take lessons together.

  • Calduke

    Rock : High ratings for Oregon?? They have an outstanding QB and a hard-nosed, reliable RB. They can run AND pass the ball.

    J O ; Your observation that the 2007 season set back the 2009 recruiting is a bit off. UCLA and Stanford had a crappy, discouraging 2008 season and they had great recruiting. My observation is the Cal recruiting ‘team’, with their recruiting strategy and efforts, is not effective.

  • John

    This is going to be the strongest year for recruiting ever. Cal has stepped up its efforts for talent across the country, including a threesome of players in North Carolina and the usual connections we have in Texas and the Northwest. You can take my word for it, or subscribe to one of the sites and see that kids across the country are talking about Cal this year more than ever. A lot of this is due to Tosh Lupoi and Kenwick Thompson, as JT is the type of coach who likes to evaluate much more than just send out offer after offer. Ron Gould will no doubt bring in his usual All-Pac 10 caliber RB as well. We are in the lead or top 2/3 for 10+ 4-star caliber players, and Cal fans should expect to see at least 3 players from the top 100, with two players who will earn 5-stars by season’s end.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    John Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 9:29 am
    This is going to be the strongest year for recruiting ever.>>>>> that is, for your program. This will mean your efforts will land you about the middle of the Pac 10.

    1. USC – the best want to compete annually for the BCS championship
    2. PUCLA – their academics are better than yours
    3. Oregon – better facilities and now a very innovative offense minded HC
    4. Stanford – as long as Harbaugh is there; better academics than yours attracts better smarter talent
    5. Oregon State/ASU/Berkley – tie

    The reason why you are going outside of California is more programs have moved into California recruiting grounds including Sarks, Kiffen, Meyer, Weiss. You better look out too because Walker and the coach from SDSU will start recruiting the LA basin very hard and get the left overs both USC and PUCLA don’t want.

  • Scotty Mon


    You promised to disappear. Now go have another twinkie. Own a jockstrap then chime on. Oh sorry, wear one first then disappear. Loser.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    What do you have when one club sport team beats another club sport team in the same contest?

    Your rugby teams first loss.

    However don’t look too hard on the NCAA wires. You won’t be finding any mention of it. Maybe there is some kind of “green” page for those type of scores just like what they have listed for penny stocks. It’s the same thing.

  • Will

    Patty Cakes, you haven’t answered my question. What’s your major, and where did you get it?