The lack of a passing game last season was the fault of many — inconsistent quarterback play, injuries along the offensive line and lack of playmaking ability from the receivers. Perhaps the biggest issue facing Cal this fall is whether it can find at least one go-to receiver that can be counted on to produce.
Nyan Boateng and Verran Tucker each flashed samples of their potential last season, but neither was a consistent threat. Both players, like almost all of their receivers, were playing a full season of Division I football for the first time. Having one year of experience will undoubtedly help, but it remains to be seen if they have the talent to emerge as big-time receivers.
At this time last year, the general consensus was that Michael Calvin would emerge as a big-play receiver. He came to Cal with big expectations and had a great year on scout team. But a toe injury, followed by a torn ACL, prevented him from ever getting going. Calvin is fully healthy now but may take awhile to return to his old form, both physically and mentally.
Many eyes will be on Marvin Jones this fall. Jones was the Bears’ top receiver in the spring and may have more potential than any receiver on the roster. If he continues his rate of improvement from the spring, he could be ready for a breakout season.
Alex Lagemann also was a revelation during the spring and is definitely in the mix for a starting role. A sprained toe limited his offseason work, but quarterback Kevin Riley told me that he was playing as well as he did in the spring before suffering the injury.
Jeremy Ross, who reportedly is emerging as a team leader, is also very much still in the plans. Like Boateng and Tucker, the Bears hope his one year of experience will translate into more on-field production.