Goffense is departing that we know. Next year we will not see fades to Kenny Lawler, seam deep routes to Bryce Treggs, tunnel screens to Maurice Harris, go routes to Trevor Davis, and clutch 3rd down in-routes to Stephen Anderson. When we look into the defense we have departures of key players such as Stefan McClure and his presence in the zone-coverage, and Kyle Kragen's ability for pass rush abilities.
First we will look at the offense and the loss of production that will happen with the attrition.
We Shall Beat Them Through the Skies
The key thing to understand for the next year offense is the fact that the players that are leaving, sans RBs, produced an overwhelming amount of times for Cal:
|Targets||Catches||Yards||TD||Yds/Catch||Yds/Target||Catch Rate||Target Rate|
These numbers showcase an even spread of wealth by Jared Goff. I think that this bolsters Goff's status as a QB who didn't gain his total stats by flinging the ball to one stud receiver, but was able to read defenses and play what was given to him. The receivers themselves produced despite injuries, Darius Powe and Maurice Harris both stepped up tremendously, with Powe being a great physical presence in the slot and Harris being elusive from the outside.
|Percentage of Total||76.64%||76.59%||80.02%||88.37%|
As an unit the whole group was by all means Cal's passing offense. The following summary statistics show that we will be losing a huge chunk of production. It also indicates that the players that will step-up next year a huge unknown.
We know that the impact of Jared Goff cannot be fully substituted. The number we see do not tell the whole story: his ability to sense pressure, the touch on his intermediate throws, and ability to fit throws deep with ease in face of relentless pressure aren't quantifiable. However, all these things considered, we have to have in mind that with the departure of this group also departs the last "Tedford" class of starters. What we will see next year is an offense manned by recruits picked by this regime for this type of offense. My projection for the next season will be:
|1st String||Carlos Strickland/ Brandon Singleton||Ray Hudson||Meliquse Stovall||Kanawai Noa /Jordan Veasy|
|2nd String||Chad Hansen||Grayson Bankhead||Vic Wharton III||Jordan Duncan|
|3rd String||Jack Austin||Austin Aaron|
This is pure speculation on my part, I tried to weigh Noa's appearance on the field as an indicator that he was more ready than his peers to play in our offense. I also think the Stovall's talent level as well as early admission will allow him to play productively in the H-back position. His versatility will let Tony Franklin move him in and out of the backfield to get good match-ups as needed. I can imagine that we will try to get him matched-up against an LB or at least force a safety to cover him letting the Z receiver get one-on-one coverage. Grayson Bankhead has a good chance of seeing the field more often than a usual 2nd string due to his speed and quickness, Ray Hudson will start however on most down, especially 3rd downs, due to his large body and game-time experience. I think that the offense will shift towards quick passes to Stovall and Wharton who have speed and agility to be high YAC receivers, tough intermediate throws to the outside receivers who should be able to consistently beat one-on-one match-ups, and our RBBC.
We will not be able to replicate the nation's 6th ranked passing offense next year with its 5th ranked efficiency (#1 on passing downs!). What we can do is create more explosive plays that depend on the sheer athletic ability of our receiving core to make plays in space. Tony Franklin is aware that next year we will not have Jared Goff's seemingly supernatural ability to evade pressure and deliver quick passes with deadly accuracy. What will happen is a shift from a team that rushes 46.8% of the time (121st ranked in the rate of runs this year) to one that will try to force the ball with Vic, Tre and Khalfani.
And We Shall Crush Them on the Ground
In regards to the rushing game the returning production is diametrically different from the receiving game.
|Percentage of Total||28.68%||27.29%||25.00%|
The situation here looks set: Vic Enwere, Khalfani Muhammad, and Tre Watson will split carries as lightning, thunder, and a-bit-of-both. As mentioned in the previous post each player has a set of skills that can tip-off the opposing defense about the play if we have them on the field. I like how we experimented with two-back sets since it gives us additional 2 players for pass protection as well as gives us more play-by-play flexibility. I can envision a Stovall-Enwere backfield since we can run an outside/inside zone with Enwere as a blocker and Stovall as the runner, or we can split Stovall out as a H-back creating further mismatches.
|Rushing Success Rate||48.50%||14|
|Adj. Line Yards||109.3||32|
|Power Success Rate||59.10%||108|
The main cause for concern is the lack of explosive rushing plays as well as a lack of success in power run rates. Run-blocking ought to continue to be a main point of emphasis in the off-season since according to my analysis it was the threat of Goff's arm talent that allowed the rushing game to thrive. Without Goff I can predict the rushing offense to suffer dramatically all else held constant. Next year, barring a sudden Goffensive inspiration of Chase Forrest, I can see the running game having to open windows for the passing game to thrive unlike this year.
And Together We Shall Conquer Stadiums
What we can see is a remarkable turnover in the passing game from the arm that throws the ball to the person who catches the ball. There is a lot of variance that may happen in the process of getting new players acclimated to the speed of the game as well as the drop-off in performance from Goff to Forrest (not an insult to Forrest's skills, however, I think Goff was a once a decade talent for Cal in this position).
On the ground I hope for more development in the O-line and the RBs, they will become more essential in keeping the Bear Raid going in the Post-Goff era. There should be more runs to be had by the group as well as tighter boxes for them to fight through, that is why the o-line will be essential in grinding the way for the RBs in the 2016-2017 campaign.
What the future brings is a lot of uncertainty but also a lot of answers: How did Sonny Dykes and co. recruit? How much was the scheme the key for Cal's offensive resurgence? Will Tony Stark and Steve Rogers become friends again after Civil War?
Until then: I will focus on the defense in the next installment of Evans Hall.