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Football: Four key issues entering fall camp

As Cal prepares to open fall training camp Monday, here are four issues the Golden Bears must resolve before their season opener on Aug. 30 at Northwestern.

Only four, you say? My editors asked for four; as we know, the list is potentially longer:

* Is there sufficient depth and talent at defensive tackle?

Harrison Wilfley and Marcus Manley emerged from spring ball on the top line of the depth chart after lone returning starter Jacobi Hunter transferred. The Bears are hoping junior Mustafa Jalil will be a force after sitting out last season with knee problems. Two more JC players, Trevor Kelly and David Davis, will be in the mix at a position coach Sonny Dykes hopes can become an area of depth. For now, it’s a big question.

* Who wins the running back job?

Junior Daniel Lasco emerged as the leader after spring ball, but he was a bit fragile last season. Versatile speedster Khalfani Muhammad was productive as a freshman last fall, but hardly seems an every-down back. Then there are two promising freshmen, Tre Watson and Vic Enwere. Watson rushed for 3,734 yards and 50 touchdowns last season at Corona-Centennial, while the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Enwere gained more than 1,500 yards each of the past two seasons in Missouri City, Texas. The Bears need a more productive running game, whether one player carries the load or it’s shouldered by committee.

* How will the defensive backfield sort out?

Coach Sonny Dykes said the secondary is the Bears’ biggest area of concern. The staff wants to pair former cornerback McClure alongside Sebastian at safety, but they are coming off injuries that limited them to a combined six games last season. The key is whether the Bears can find a three or four capable corners among returnees Darius Allensworth, Cameron Walker, Cedric Dozier and Trey Cheek and JC transfer Darius White.

* Can the offensive line gel into a capable unit?

Injuries and subpar performance resulted in the Bears using nine different O-line starters last season in six different lineup combinations. The result was Cal quarterbacks were sacked 34 times and the running game failed to crack 150 yards in the team’s first nine games. The Bears are hoping for more production and consistency this fall. The tentative starting five: LT Steven Moore, LG Chris Borrayo, C Chris Adcock, RG Alejandro Crosthwaite, RT Jordan Rigsbee.

THE END

Jeff Faraudo

  • covinared

    I am an optimist.

  • 707 Bear

    This is Lee Grosscup with the keys to victory.

    Run and stop the run.

  • Juancho

    Let’s hope for a good season. If it’s another really bad record, I can see Dykes being let go. Keep in mind, his safety blanket named Sandy is gone.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Today is the first day of August, and g’damn it, I can’t help but feel the slight surge of unwarranted optimism regarding the Cal football team begin its annual creep. I know I miss the Tightwad Hill and the Stadium in Fall but I guess I also must miss those “only at Cal” feelings on gamedays: the “oh crap how are we gonna screw this up” mantra that seems to permeate Strawberry Canyon as soon the initial kickoff is in the air. Its like we are all in this big ol’ cruise ship together, waiting for the iceberg, which the sideways glances, rolling eyes, and knowing half-smiles confirm…

    Regardless, I cannot wait to be up there among my fellow long-suffering Cal fans, hoping, praying, trying desperate mathematical formulations all in the name of a Sturdy Golden Bear victory. There is really nothing like being a Cal football fan, although I guess being a Cubs fan might be similar! We had a miracle in 1982 and we are gonna need another one in 2014…its such a brutal tough conference and schedule and frankly, we don’t have the horses. But, maybe, just maybe, if the squad remains mostly injury free and if the OLine does its thing at a high(ish) level, AND IF WE TACKLE!!!, we may at least put up some serious points and have some very entertaining games. There really is nowhere to go but up! (see aforementioned optimism creep…)

    Go Bears!!!

  • Rollonubears

    +1
    Cubs are also bears!

    I’m excited, as always. 6 wins would be a miracle, but unless we have the same amount of injuries this year as the last two (which would prove it’s the turf), there’s no reason why we can’t easily win 3 games (4 if we take the first one). Just need a little luck to get over the hump. We were young and hurt last year. We’re older and healthy today, with a more experienced coach, and a much much better D-coordinator. People picking us to finish last should be surprised.

  • Eric

    The RB situation is easy – start Khalfani. He is far better for the offense as he has the blazing speed and better catching out of the backfield. But I do think there is nothing wrong with running two backs in this offense so that we can mix and match.
    As i said on January 1, the past season was a perfect storm of bad events, some of which squarely land in Sonny’s lap, and some of which no coach could adequately address. So I am of the view Sonny absolutely should be shooting for at least 6-6 because last year he should have had at least 4 wins. The schedule is again tough, and I think the tone will be set with NW. Win that game, and things look very interesting. Lose it, and we’ll be scrambling.

  • GoBears49

    My feeling is the Bears will be significantly better than last year. We can’t possibly have the number of injuries we had last year and our defensive coordinator is likely much better than we had last year. Plus all of the freshmen who were forced to play last year will be better sooner than if they had not played last year. Plus we have one of the receiving corps in the league and our QB can only get better with all of the reps he had last year. We may surprise a lot of people this year.