Stewart Mandel recently spent some time watching the Cal offense and came away impressed by the simplicity of the Bear Raid.
This season, Cal will join the fast-growing group of teams -- West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M among them -- whose offenses descended from original Air Raid practitioners Hal Mumme and Mike Leach. Dykes and Franklin were part of their original Kentucky staff in the late 1990s. And for an offense that's broken records virtually everywhere it's spread -- including last season at Louisiana Tech, where the Dykes/Franklin-coached Bulldogs led the nation in both total offense (577.9 yards per game) and scoring offense (51.5 points per game) -- it's surprisingly simple. The pair began their offensive installation on a Monday, and by Friday, the third practice of spring, they were practically done. The base offense consists of roughly 20 plays -- three screens, six runs and 12 or so pass plays -- that can be packaged together. By comparison, Cal's offense under Tedford contained more than 500 different signals.
The general philosophy of Air Raid teams is that the offense becomes harder to stop the faster and more skillfully the players can execute it -- something they accomplish by practicing the same handful of plays over and over. Dykes cites the Malcolm Gladwell book Outliers and its "Rule of 10,000 Hours," which professes that geniuses of a certain craft get to that level by accruing 10,000 hours of practice.
"It's not really a scheme-based offense as much as teaching fundamentals and techniques," Dykes said. "They [the defense] know we're going to throw slants. The idea is to be good enough throwing slants where they know it's coming and still can't stop it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The better players you have, the better it works."
Now that the team has the base offense installed, the coaches' goal is to run the offense as fast as possible. While learning the offense was easy for the quarterbacks, playing as quickly as Dykes-Franklin expect has been a challenge.
And then there's the pace. Ideally, the Bears will operate at the same frenetic tempo that allowed Dykes' Louisiana Tech team to average 88 plays per game last season. They're not there quite yet ("It's ugly," Franklin said of the process), but the ball is placed and a new call is signaled within seconds of the prior play ending. Processing the call and getting everyone in the right place is taking a little bit longer.
"It's a really fast paced offense," Kline said. "What I've been trying to do is get as many plays off as I can, run the best play I can, and if I make a mistake, at least I'm making a mistake while going 100 miles an hour."
It will be interesting to see the balance of traits--speed, efficiency, accuracy--demonstrated by whomever is named the starting QB.
- Allan Bridgford announced that he will graduate this summer and transfer to another school in the fall.
- Cal has released salary information for all assistants except Andy Buh and Tony Franklin. All the assistants earn $185k, except Mark Tommerdahl ($205k) and Rob Likens ($210k).
- The team released the first depth chart of the Dykes era. Littered with "ors," the depth chart still has several unsettled positions.
- Monday's practice had a special guest: Joe Montana.
- Keenan Allen drops to 23rd in Mel Kiper's latest mock draft, where he goes to Minnesota to help fill Percy Harvin's shoes.
- Allen Crabbe became the third Bear in four years to win the Pac-12 Player of the Year award.
- With his sights sets on the Pac-12 Tournament, Crabbe says he'd trade the PotY award for the championship win at the tourney.
- Crabbe talks about the difficulty of making the decision whether or not to enter the NBA Draft.
- Cal is 47th in Jay Bilas' latest top-68 rankings.
- The ninth-seeded Bears face off against Colorado State in the latest bracketology. Louisville looms as the Bears' potential second-round matchup. A potential second-round matchup against a 1-seed drops the Bears' sweet sixteen chances to 7.0%. Cal has a 0.8% chance of making the final four and a 0.1% chance at winning it all.
- With last week's loss to UCLA in the tournament, the Bears hold steady as a 2-seed. They face off against Oral Roberts and would have to take down Baylor to earn a final four slot.
- With a 13-stroke win at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, Cal broke another record with its 8th tournament win of the season. Michael Kim finished tied for first.
- Keelan Kilpatrick, redshirting this season, won the Diablo Valley Amateur.