Return Of The Michalczik! The Cal Offensive Line in 2011

TwistNHook: I felt that the offensive line really finished strong. It seemed as if they had some struggles earlier in the year, but gelled as we neared the end of the season. The uptick in running production in the second half really reflected that, I think.

What are your guys thoughts on the offensive line? And how do you think they'll do against Texas?

HydroTech: Well, it seems as if the OL has started to really come along. They've been opening up some big holes for the RBs on a more consistent basis, and the penalties which plagued the OL earlier in the year seem to have died down a little bit. Texas has a good defense so the OL will be in for a challenge. I'm thinking that Cal will (like usual) try and assert its run game in the Holiday Bowl. If Cal is able to run the ball against Texas, I'm thinking Cal should be in a good position to win the game.

TwistNHook: Yes, there were definitely some problems early in the season with penalties. I believe the Presbyterian game was particularly frustrating. It's good to see a lot of those go away.

Berkelium97: Texas has a fantastic rush defense, so the Cal O-line will have its work cut out for it. Texas' run defense is in the top-10 or top-15 in most major categories relating to the running game, so they are about on par with Stanford. The O-line did okay against Stanford--not great, not terrible. Like HydroTech says, if the Bears can run well, they will be in excellent shape in the bowl game.

The O-line did a decent job protecting Maynard, allowing 22 sacks on 407 passing attempts (or one sack per 18.5 pass attempts). This is an improvement over last year's numbers (which are much better than I remember), 23 sacks on 332 attempts (one sack per 14.4 pass attempts). As a comparison, our defense, whose pass rush has struggled at times this year, forced 30 sacks on 374 passing attempts (one sack per 12.5 attempts, down from last year's one per 11).

Texas does not ordinarily get a ton of pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, as they register one sack per 18.4 pass attempts. However, Texas maintains an excellent pass defense despite the low numbers of sacks. If the O-line starts allowing pressure to get to Maynard, our passing game will be in serious trouble.

Kodiak: I thought the coaching staff did a good job of adjusting throughout the year to what our line does well. Instead of trying to just run over people, we took advantage of our mobility and did a lot more attacking on the edges.

Although we're still vulnerable to speed rushers, this has been at least partly offset by our play-action/roll-out game. You also can't understate how Maynard's mobility has made the line look better at times.

Another facet that seemed to improve throughout the year was the snapping. After firing off at least one wayward snap per game, I don't recall it being an issue towards the end of the season.

As much well-deserved credit that Coach M gets for rehabilitating the Oline, I think we would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge Coach Blasquez role in their turnaround.

OhioBear: The return of Coach M was a welcome development for the coaching staff and one that we hoped would pay immediate dividends. Well, it wasn't exactly "immediate." The O-line certainly had its issues in the early season -- missed blocks, penalties, and bad snaps were painful to watch.

We haven't exactly eradicated all of the problems. We still have penalty issues, but we seem to have had a lot fewer of them over the last quarter of the season than earlier. And the most obvious indicator of the O-line's improvement has been the emergence of Cal's running game during the last four games of the season. While we can certainly point to improvement by RBs Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson as a welcome development, we cannot overlook the fact that the offensive line is opening up some holes for these guys to run through. The O-line was a work in progress all year long for Coach M, but it's nice to see that the unit has improved and is playing its best football now.

That said, we'll have some holes to fill next year, as we lose some guys, none more important than All Pac-12 tackle Mitchell Schwartz. We also lose guard Justin Cheadle, who was perhaps Cal's most improved O-lineman and benefited greatly (I'm assuming) from Coach M's tutelage. I'm looking forward to seeing how Coach M plugs those holes going into next year.

Avinash: Discussion questions for the comments again (also if you want to answer these guys, go ahead!).

1) It seemed the Bears were better at blocking, but also got called for plenty of penalties this season and killed numerous drives. Cal finished the season as the second most penalized team in college football, and I'd say at least half the errors were on the O-line. Do Cal's o-linemen play too rough or slow off the snap? Or is it just Pac-12 refs being Pac-12 refs?

2) If you had to single out any O-linemen this year in terms of good or not-so-good play, who would you pick?

3) Who do you believe will emerge among the second-unit/scout team as an impact linemen next season and why?

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