Heading into last season, many Cal fans were curious about what kind of impact Brandon Jones would have on the Bears offensive line. Zach Yenser was a beloved coach and his departure left many questions regarding what the 2015 version of the offensive line would look like. The aforementioned Jones was tapped by Sonny Dykes to lead the Bears upfront and the unit improved dramatically from the the season prior. Take a look at the 2015 ranks for the unit (via Bill Connelly):
The Bears ranked in the top 15 in more than a few categories and if they can maintain a similar passing down sack rate for Davis Webb, the offense shouldn't have a problem distributing the ball. The main focal point of the offensive line will be creating holes for Vic Enwere and Tre Watson to run through. A more balanced and effective run attack could create an even more dynamic version of the Bear Raid.
This upcoming season the offensive line has by far the most experience on offense and perhaps is the most experienced unit on the entire team. The line should benefit from another year of strength and conditioning as well as coach Spavital's more balanced offense. Let's take a look at the highest rated players coming into camp and introduce a few new faces that could have a big impact come fall.
2016 Projected Starters
Aaron Cochran, Left Tackle:
The great Bill Walsh was the first coach to place a heavy emphasis on having an athletic left tackle, luckily for the Bears that is what we have in Aaron Cochran. In the last five games of the 2015 season, Goff only incurred six sacks and Jones himself credited that statistic to Cochran's emergence on the blind side. Cochran has massive size and Dykes mentioned he thought Aaron had only hit 50% of his potential last season. That is a scary proposition for any upcoming Cal opponent and should Cochran reach that potential, Davis Webb might have one hell of a senior sendoff.
Chris Borrayo, Left Guard:
Borrayo received a prestigious pre-season award being named to the Outland watch list and he has been a constant presence on the Cal line. Borrayo is blessed with monstrous hands and received an honorable mention last year for all Pac-12. He has a fantastic story and has stood out as a leader both on the field last year and in the locker room. Sonny bestowed the honor to him of carrying the California state flag for the football team out of the locker room and I would expect that tradition to continue through this upcoming season.
Dominic Granado or Addison Ooms or Jeremiah Stuckey, center:
The man behind the hype has finally arrived and hopefully is ready to take his place among the elder lineman. Addison Ooms, who Zach Yenser continually beat the proverbial drum about, is in position to beat out Dom Granado at the center position come fall. It was largely believed that Ooms was going to start last season however that didn't end up coming to fruition as he look unprepared for the job in camp and was passed by Granado. Dykes praised Ooms on getting stronger and starting to finish plays this spring, something he lacked last year. Looming also is Texas A&M transfer Jeremiah Stuckey. As camp goes on, this will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch.
Dwayne Wallace, Right Guard:
The biggest hole to fill for the offensive line comes at the right guard position vacated by Jordan Rigsbee who is currently on the Carolina panthers. Junior college transfer Dwayne Wallace hopes to pick up where Rigsbee left off while highly touted recruit Semisi Uluave is competing for the starting position. Uluave was a big get for the Bears as a recruit and figures to make a big impact this upcoming season now that he isn't embarking on his religious mission.
Steven Moore, Right Tackle:
One of the spring game captains, Steven Moore rounds out the list of starters for Bears up front. Moore is the second biggest player on our line and has 36 career starts under his belt. Needless to say, he will be setting the tone for the line all season long. Jon Wilner actually tapped Moore as the sixth best draft prospect coming into the 2016 season and thinks he is athletic enough to play either side at the next level. Moore has to be one of the final holdovers from the Tedford era of recruits and should join a long list of former Tedford players donning an NFL jersey in 2017.