8) Linebackers. With Hardy Nickerson recovering slowwwwwllly from his foot injury last year, Cal is down to a rotation of six. After not playing much of last season, Nathan Broussard is being handed a big responsibility at the Mike. Michael Barton and Jalen Jefferson did tackle a lot last season, so we can rely on that. In our yearly spring tradition, Maximo Espitia has become our "pleasant surprise player of the offseason who might not even see any action because of off-the-field issues".
The three backups on this unit have not played a single snap of college football. This unit scares the hell out of me.
7) Defensive line. So our starting defensive tackles are gone, along with the primary backup. Our starting defensive ends from last year are gone. We will be relying heavily on two defensive ends who didn't play all of last season (Brennan Scarlett & Sione Sina) for pass rush, and another (Kyle Kragen who was touted for his pass rush and managed only 4.5 tackles for loss all season. It's anyone's guess if Mustafa Jalil will ever be healthy enough to make it through a full season, if Austin Clark can make a difference, and if Trevor Kelly can work his way up fast. If Fred Tate manages not to give up 6 yards per rush with this unit, hand him whatever trophies position coaches get.
6) Secondary. I have no idea what to make of this unit. Cameron Walker should be far more comfortable playing his natural cornerback position. But three of our defensive backs who are in contention to start (Sebastian, McClure, Allensworth) are all recovering from pretty tough leg injuries. Each of our defensive units need to be as healthy as can be, because one injury on any unit and the house of cards could fall down.
5) Running backs. Muhammad and Daniel Lasco should perform better with more reps under their belts, and Tre Watson provides an additional opportunity for offensive weaponry. If Vic Enwere is game-ready by fall camp, that gives us four capable backs who can complement the offense. But they have to work their way up from a disastrous 2013 campaign where only one back managed to break 100 yards in any game all season.
4) Special teams. Our kicking game is a big question mark. Matt Anderson, James Langford and Noah Beito have a nice three way battle going, so one of them ought to pan out here. I think Cole Leninger should be more consistent. Bryce Treggs and Khalfani Muhammad haven't shown much as returners yet, but the blocking for them has been bad, bad, bad. Don't get me started on coverage, which ended about 2-3 games pretty quickly for us last season.
3) Offensive line. I actually feel pretty good about this unit. The Bears were too young last year and Chris Adcock's injury forced everyone to shuffle around and play in places they were not comfortable in playing last season. Chris Borrayo has looked good on his high school tape and showed that he belonged on the field near the end of the last season. The big question is whether Jordan Rigsbee will be as good at tackle as he's capable of performing on the inside. If he can, this team might be able to go to the ground more.
2) Quarterback. Usually if you're pretty secure in your quarterback, you feel pretty good about making a big run for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, Jared Goff was the only bright spot we had to shine on last year. With Zach Kline gone and Luke Rubenzer blue
redshirting, this is Goff's team this year, and he'll be tasked to maintain Cal's offensive consistency.
1) Wide receivers. This will be one of the best units in the Pac-12 this season, and would probably be number one among receiving corps in the conference if I knew we had one guy who could break out for a big play this season (despite passing the ball a lot last season, Cal only managed 50 passes of 20+ yards or more, good for only 6th in the Pac-12). Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper are great possession guys, but they are not known to burn for big plays. Trevor Davis could be that guy this season.
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