WHAT WENT RIGHT: Not much. Punter Bryan Anger overcame a disappointing start to the season to have another solid campaign, although not at the level many expected when he was named to the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award. Anger finished fourth in the Pac-10 and 34th nationally in punting (42.3 ypp). Shane Vereen established himself as a capable kick returner before he had to give up those duties to become the primary tailback.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Just about everything. The Bears were ninth in the Pac-10 in kick coverage. While Giorgio Tavecchio improved the depth of his kickoffs as the year went on, Cal’s coverage team consistently yielded big returns. That included a 61-yarder by Utah’s Shaky Smithson in the Poinsettia Bowl, which may have been the final straw in special teams coach Pete Alamar’s job security. Alamar was fired after the season. The Bears also finished last in the Pac-10 in field goals as Tavecchio and Vince D’Amato combined to go 15-for-24.
IN SUMMATION: Poor special teams coverage had become a trend in recent years, and it became so blatantly bad this season that Alamar lost his job.
MOVING FORWARD: Whomever takes over special team coaching will have to figure out what is ailing the Bears’ coverage teams. Is it techinque? Strategy? Personnel? It is something that will be closely examined in spring practice. Anger should be solid at the very least, a dangerous weapon at the most. Tavecchio and D’Amato will continue to compete. Field goals were disappointing for both of them; Tavecchio’s kickoffs appear to be improving. Jeremy Ross has potential as a returner. He took back one punt for a touchdown this season. Isi Sofele could be a dangerous kick returner next season.