Arguably the biggest news of the off-season came in December when resident Berkeley lover and dead head impersonator, Tony Franklin, announced he would be resigning from Cal as offensive coordinator. Just a few weeks earlier, Sonny had told the press he expected to retain 100% of his coaching staff which would have been a first in his time at Berkeley. Fortunately for the Bears, Franklin was not a dynamic recruiter and his departure didn't negatively impact the incoming recruiting class that spring.
A few months later, Jake Spavital was announced as the next commander of the Bear Raid and one of the brightest offensive minds in football was arriving in Berkeley. Spavital spent his previous tenure at Texas A&M, at first the co-offensive coordinator and then offensive coordinator and Quarterbacks coach for three years in total under Kevin Sumlin.
Let's take a look at the offensive totals from each year Spavital led the Aggies offense and see how they compared nationally:
The 2013 numbers are inflated a bit due to the human cheat code known as Johnny Football but the results are downright gaudy. Ninth in the nation in overall yards, fourth in yards per game, sixth in total passing yards and eighth in passing yards per game. The running game, usually a staple of the Spavital offense, wasn't as impressive ranking 46th in total rush yards and 45th in rush yards per game, perhaps as a result of the ridiculous production from the passing game. All that being said, the offense ended up with the fifth highest points per game and coach Spavital quickly earned a reputation for his offensive prowess.
The 2014 campaign saw an expected decline in many offensive categories as Manziel headed to the draft and A&M was left trying to reload. Still, the offensive production was impressive. The Aggies finished in the top 35 in regards to total offense and 12th and 13th in passing yards per game as well as total passing yards. The team finished in the top 30 of scoring offenses but the rushing attack saw a devastating drop to 84th in rushing yards per game. An interesting side note, in 2014 the Aggies finished just behind Tony Franklin's Cal Bears in total offensive yards.
In what is most likely coach Spavital's most troubling campaign, the offense saw another year of decline but across almost all categories in 2015. There were rumors about unrest with the coaching staff and other external factors at the quarterback position that contributed to the statistical downturn, but the numbers were not pretty. The Aggies finished 71st in points per game and the passing attack fell to the bottom of the top 40 teams across FBS. The running attack did see an increase moving to 66th overall but was still severely lacking compared to previous years. For perspective, Cal finished third in passing yards per game and seventeenth in points per game in the 2015 season.
All told, Coach Spavital has two incredibly impressive years under his belt at A&M and one he would like to forget. The statistics don't tell the whole story but it is easy to see why he is considered one of the brightest young minds in the game but also has something to prove this season. There will still be cynics who claim his success came on the heels of Johnny Manziel and the talent level on the 2013/2014 Texas A&M rosters.
Cal fans, where do you expect the 2016/17 Cal offense to rank nationally? Are you expecting another top 20 performance or should we be settling in for some regression?