Cal Football: Will the Offensive Line be better in 2013?

Jamie Sabau

We continue our series on burning questions we had in the offseason with #2, will the O-line improve any from last year's poor showing?

LeonPowe: It would really be difficult to be worse. I (stubbornly) maintain that Maynard was at least an average quarterback, but the constant being chased thing really did not help his cause. And then the holds - man oh man, the holds. and false starts. If we're worse, we might as well pack it in and watch a different fall sport.

So, not knowing a single thing about the intricacies of o-line play, but one of the things about the Bear Raid is quick decisions and getting the ball out into space to our playmakers, I would hazard a prediction that even if the personnel and talent levels are fairly equal to last year, the results will be better. With the deeper anchor already detailed on CGB and the quick decision making by which ever QB we have back there - there will be less time to actually get caught holding, and hopefully Klindergoff won't be getting chased since the ball will be already out and into Biggie or Trigga or Chris Harper's hands.

Leland Wong: LeonPowe has a point--it would be quite the feat for our O-line to perform even worse than they did last year. Qualitatively, our run blocking seemed better, but we don't keep stats on the number of touchdowns C.J. Anderson got called back due to holding. But I'm still having nightmares about the pass protection. In 2012, Cal was 118th (out of 124) in total sacks allowed (40.0) and sacks allowed per game (3.33). Defenders blew right past our line for a loss of 262 yards on the season and I think we played a key role in Will Sutton's breakout season.

Berkelium97: The sack numbers should take a nosedive under the Dykes-Franklin offense. Their QBs regularly get rid of the ball during the first 2.5 seconds after the snap. Quick, decisive passes should eliminate the coverage sacks that have plagued our team over the past several seasons. Here's a fun comparison: over the last 3 years at Louisiana Tech, Dykes' teams gave up a total of 52 sacks. Last year the Bears were sacked 40 times, and that number balloons to 91 over the past three seasons. That's just turrible.

Scott Chong: Although it seems like we've been saying every year for the past few seasons, "the Oline will _have_ to be better this year," there's a decent chance that will actually be the case.

Looking at the glass half-empty, it'll be at least three new starters, possibly four if Bill Tyndall can't recover from his injury. There's just not a lot of experienced depth here at any position on the line. It's also worth noting that it's the center who calls the protections in the Dykes/Franklin offense and our projected starter is going to be a redshirt freshman with no Div-I experience.

If your glass is half-full, there are more 3* and 4* guys in the projected two-deep than we've had in the past. We could conceivably play several guys 6'6 and taller as well as weighing in over 300lbs at every position.

And if your glass is over-flowing with Sonny delight, the high-tempo, quick-passing offense combined with the new Vertical Set pass protection scheme will make it easier for our Oline to protect the quarterback. Looking at LaTech the past few years, they surrendered fewer sacks each year than Cal despite throwing more and playing a significantly higher number of offensive snaps. In a three year span, they gave up 52 sacks...while Cal gave up 91.

I think it'll still be a work in progress. You can't expect a freshman QB playing behind a freshman center to be dialed in right away. But the simplification of the offense should really help. Many of the mistakes made by the line the past few seasons seemed to be mental errors from having to remember 6-8 different protections for each play. This is another area where more focus on fundamentals and execution will hopefully pay off sooner rather than later.

Perhaps the biggest question mark in my mind is whether our big guys can adapt to demands of the new uptempo offense with just one off-season. It seems like this could be a dramatic change in how they used to lift and condition themselves. We've heard reports that various skill players or Dlinemen are excelling under the new S&C program. It's been all quiet with regards to the Oline. It probably just means that everything is perfectly fine. Right?

NorCalNick: I'm encouraged by a few quotes from Sonny Dykes that were along the lines of 'we were expecting offensive line to be a huge problem coming in, but found lots more talent than we expected.' Everybody saw what happened last year, and as a result skepticism is a logical response. But like nearly every other unit on the field, the offensive line has more natural talent than they showed last year.

I'm of the opinion that there will be significant growing pains. This group is inexperienced both in terms of time on the field and time in Sonny's system. But if ever there was a system designed to mask offensive line issues, it's this one.

That's really the crux of the issue, isn't it? Like Scott mentioned, we've been a broken record about how the line needed to be better. That's because Tedford's system absolutely required having guys like Mitchell Schwartz and Alex Mack at nearly every position. Any wink links were almost guaranteed to be exploited.

The Bear Raid is still football, so it all still starts from the line. But I'd like to think that at least a few deficiencies might occasionally be masked this year. I hope.


Vlad Belo: Call me a sunshine pumping optimist who thinks everything will be fine, but yes: I think our offensive line will improve. Part of me wants to say that just because of the, "Hey, it can't get any worse" school of thought. But I also believe that the additional year of experience for guys like Rigsbee, Tyndall, and Adcock will be a plus. It may also seem counterintuitive, but I also believe that the change in offensive scheme will help the offensive line as well. Scott brings up a good point about the higher tempo offense that the Bear Raid will be: the quick passing game will put a premium on throwing the ball quickly and on time and the O-line pass protection scheme could make things less complex. Less complexity, better execution is my hope.

As for run blocking, I'd like to think the up tempo offensive will help our O-line play in that regard also. Dictating tempo to the defense, coupled with the spread out nature of the Bear Raid, should help our O-line be able to do some good things at the point of attack in front of RBs Bigelow and Lasco. But while that might be true in theory, it all comes down to execution. We'll have some growing pains along the way, but I'd like to think this group will "get it" sooner rather than later.

HydroTech: The offensive line will definitely improve -- at least statistically -- from last year's poor showing. The nature of the Bear Raid offense is that the ball comes out of the QB's hands fast. The offensive line will no longer be required to pass block for as many full five and seven step drops, thus lowering the number of sacks allowed. Also, the high pace of the offense should help improve Cal's rushing attack. While the quality of Cal's run blocking may not be particularly better than last year's rushing attack, the sheer high speed of the offense will tire out defenses and cause more defensive mistakes. Cal should see a slight improvement in average yards per carry due to RBs breaking off big runs because of defensive miscommunications and missed tackles.

Sam Fielder: Echoing what everyone has said, I think that there is a good chance that this unit will be much better than last year, albeit with some growing pains. As Scott has previously pointed out in his preview posts about the O-Line (located HERE and HERE) we have the size and hopefully, the scheme, to make for a much better unit. However, the inexperience does worry me but as others have said above, the uptempo offense should help mask so of the deficiencies. So count me in as optimistic that things will improve in 2013 for the O-line.

What about you? Do you think the O-line will improve any from last year's poor showing?
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