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Cal Football Tuesday Thoughts: Ranking units by confidence

Plus the denouement of the Harrington saga and a Pac-12 round up

Tre Watson running behind a veteran offensive line should be a strength in 2016
Tre Watson running behind a veteran offensive line should be a strength in 2016
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Just under 3 weeks until fall camp, just under 7 weeks until kick off in Australia, which means only a few more weeks of 100% pure filler, until we move into the 50% filler that is attempting to analyze practice reports. Beggars can't be choosers!

Preseason Unit Confidence Rankings

To get a sense of where everybody sees the team going into fall camp, I'd be curious to hear how much everybody agrees or disagrees with the below.

1. Offensive Line

Solid experience, solid depth, solid performance last year - even the relatively inexperienced starters on the line showed positively last season in more limited roles.

2. Running Back

There probably isn't one stand out back that will wow from game to game, but with Enwere, Muhammad, and Watson Cal has three players with different skill sets who have already proven that they're solid power 5 backs. Enwere and Watson are young enough that there's still upside as well.

3. Wide Receiver

Somewhat odd to see the position group with the most turnover on the team so high, but there's little denying that Cal has recruited the strongest at wide receiver, and the sheer strength of numbers means that it's hard to see how Cal won't get 4-6 reliable, dangerous options out of the 10-12 guys who will seriously compete for playing time.

4. Quarterback

How do you feel about Davis Webb? If you think he's primed to step in and play like he did as a underclassman at Texas Tech, then you might move QB a slot or two higher. If you think he's just as much of an unknown as any of the other options at the position, then maybe you push quarterback down the rankings. 4th feels like a safe compromise.

5. Defensive Line

On the one hand, some solid contributors (Looney, Wilson, Manley) are back. On the other hand, pretty much every player who managed to reach the quarterback with any consistency graduated. There are some intriguing young names in the freshmen and sophomore classes, but the talent is unproven. I doubt that the line will be the weakness of the defense, but I'm not comfortable calling it a strength either.

6. Secondary

When Sonny Dykes goes up to the mic at media day, the question I'm most interested hearing him answer has to do with the status of Damariay Drew. Drew, combined with Allensworth, is a solid returning duo to build a secondary around. Throw in Cam Walker and Caleb Coleman, and you might be in solid shape. But if Drew is out, that's three starting spots that need filling, and not many players got a ton of snaps behind Drew, McClure, and White last season.

7. Special Teams

Cal got solid field goal kicking last year, and should be fine in the category in 2016. After that . . . a whole ton of uncertainty, and a whole ton of potential for improvement. I'd really love for Cal to find their first consistent return threat in years, but I would happily settle for better punt and kick off coverage.

8. Linebackers

No seniors on the roster, no returning starters. True, Cal will likely play a ton of nickel and dime, so the Bears only need to find 3 or 4 solid contributors out of 11 linebackers on the roster

A final word as the (small percentage of) faculty vs. Harrington saga (presumably) ends

Here's the quick summary:

  • Chronicle writes one sided article
  • 5% of Cal's professors sign toothless petition
  • Cal administration makes token concessions
  • Most everybody shrugs and moves on
Mostly, the entire episode was a reminder that the academic/athletic divide that has existed on campus for . . . well, for as long as I've been paying attention still exists. One aspect of Cal's re-commitment to APR/grad rates/academics within the football program was a pledge to try to bridge that divide by increasing dialogue between the football program and faculty. And for all I know, progress has been made on that front. 100 professors signing a petition* isn't necessarily an indication that outreach has failed. But it's a reminder that more effort might be valuable.

That isn't to say that certain critics won't make the effort to meet athletics halfway. But I'd like to think that the football program and the athletic department would be the bigger people in this debate, if only to convince less entrenched faculty that there's absolutely zero value in making the athletic department the enemy since it won't be going away.

*I'd like to offer a small defense of many faculty who signed the petition. If you're a random professor who pays zero attention to sports, and you read the petition knowing nothing, you would probably think that signed it was an act that might help protect athletes, by removing a coach that the petition claims is responsible for horrible events. We know it's a little more complicated than that, but I'd generally prefer to ascribe to ignorance what others would ascribe to malice.

Around the Pac-12

  • The GOOD news is that one of the most comprehensive preview of the Pac-12 sees Cal in a tier of teams that could see them finish as high as 6th. The BAD news is that Bill C still pegs Cal as the 10th best team in the Pac-12, and considered putting them in the same tier as Colorado and Oregon State. You really should read through all of Bill's fine Pac-12 previews, although the Stanford preview made me want to gouge my eyes out.
  • Kenneth Ogbe becomes the 7th Utah basketball player to transfer away from SLC this year, prompting Block U to question why so many players are itching to not be coached by Larry Krystkowiak. My take? Krystkowiak may know how to develop talent and game plan, but he's struggling to recruit at a Pac-12 level, which means taking lots of flier prospects who are going to transfer out when they don't develop enough to get playing time.
  • Stanford is hit with a concussion lawsuit, and I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before Cal has to respond to something similar.