WHAT WE KNOW: That the Bears are experienced. Four of their five projected starters have spent at least one season as a full-time starter during his Cal career, and new center Dominic Galas appeared in every game last season and started one. Cal has to feel good about tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who has started every game of his career and has played on both ends of the line. He should slide back to right tackle this season with left-handed quarterback Zach Maynard now running the offense. Schwartz showed great promise starting as a redshirt freshman, and although he hasn’t developed into a dominant offenisve lineman, he still enters the season as one of the Pac-12′s best and is on a couple of preseason watch lists for postseason awards. Left guard Brian Schwenke played pretty well last year in his first season as a starter. Returning offensive line coach Jim Michalczik should help the linemen realize their potential.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW: Which Matt Summers-Gavin will we see? The junior was terrific as a redshirt freshman in 2009 before going down with an injury. But he injured himself again on the first day of training camp last season and it took him a long time to get back up to speed. He finally started the final four games of last year at left guard. He’s projected to move to the tackle spot opposite Schwartz this season, and if he plays up to his ability, could give the Bears a terrific set of bookends on the line. Justin Cheadle was the odd man out last season after Summers-Gavin came back and Schwenke moved over to right guard, but he is back in his right guard spot now, a position he started every game of 2009 as well. He needs to elevate his play because the Bears aren’t deep along the line. It will be imperative the starters stay healthy.
IN SUMMATION: Cal’s offensive line has been up and down the past couple years but the pieces could be in place for it to be a strong unit. The return of Michalczik is a big reason for that. He produced several top-notch players during his first stint at Cal and the overall performance of the offensive line was consistently better under Michalczik than the past two seasons under Steve Marshall. Schwartz is experienced and solid while Schwenke could really blossom this season. The Bears expect strong play from Galas. The key to the offensive line may be the performances of Cheadle and Summers-Gavin, who have demonstrated the ability to play at a strong level at times but need to stay healthy and improve their consistency.