A primer to the Cal team in 2019. Just in case you have not heard about them or did not watch the 2018 cult classic Cheez-It Bowl. This is mostly for newcomers to the fan base or sports fans who just want to learn about the 2019 California Golden Bears
Who is the most important player on the offense?
This one is pretty simple for the Bears and it’s not even close to any other position group. It has to be QB Chase Garbers. HC Justin Wilcox said this past week that if the UC-Davis game started tomorrow, Chase would be the starting QB. He had a tumultuous year in 2018, after expected starter Ross Bowers went down, Brandon McIlwain and Garbers worked a 2-QB system all season long. The starting position was rotated week to week and snap to snap. With Bowers now at NIU and McIlwain focusing on baseball, 2019 seems to be a huge chance for the QB to take the starting job. The offense for the Bears was abysmal last season, and it culminated at the Cheez-It bowl. Garbers taking a positive step and improving his play along with a young WR/TE corps, fresh RBs, and a veteran OL group could be the key in the Bears attempt to raise the floor for this season.
Who is the most important player on the defense?
Do I go with the best group or best player...? You’ll here about our best group everywhere so why not talk about ILB Evan Weaver. The top returning tackler in all of FBS with 159 tackles in 2018. Weaver is the heart and soul on the defense, not only in his play but with his personality on and off the field. As the senior inside linebacker, his role spans pre and post snap, and I would argue his pre-snap judgements and adjustments to the front seven is more important. We will be replacing his ILB partner, as Jordan Kunaszyk is now in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, with Kuony Deng as the prime candidate to take the open spot. How quickly the two get on the same page and develop a chemistry will be just as important to not only Weaver’s performance but the defense as a whole.
What should be the biggest change from last year to this year?
Wide Receiver speed and depth. The Bears lost its top 4 pass catchers to graduation this past offseason. 165 receptions are off the roster and how is the team deeper? Well, hear me out. The WR room had a gap in classes over the last couple of years due to departures. Junior Jeremiah Hawkins and Senior Jordan Duncan become the most experienced players in that room now. A few transfers will look to help production in JUCO transfer Trevon Clark and Michigan transfer Kekoa Crawford. The key is the development and play of the freshman and sophomore WRs that have come a long way over the last 8 months. Sophomore Nikko Remigio, Freshman Makai Polk, Freshman Monroe Young, and Sophomore Ricky Walker are players that have made that next step to becoming contributors this coming season. All of them have different builds and skill sets. It will be a hungry group for passes thrown their way, so although there is no clear cut starting ones, all of them will be competing to get game time.
What is Cal’s most important game on the schedule and why?
I think it has to be that Washington game in week 2. An early conference game due to some scheduling issues, the Bears face an early test against a reloading Washington team. Last season, the Huskies lost in Berkeley after the only touchdown of the game was scored by Evan Weaver on a Pick-6. Petersen pulled Jake Browning for Jake Haener and on that first play in, Weaver took it to the house. That was so great. This season, the Bears have a good test against a fairly inexperienced albeit talented team in Seattle. If the Bears can sneak in a conference away victory along with a top-15 upset all in week 2 of the season? That bodes very well going into conference play.
What is the prediction for W/L record and postseason destination?
I’ve stuck by most of my predictions on the season that the Bears have a floor of 6 wins. That’s how far I think our defense will carry this team. If our offense shows any sign of life and improves from the 100+ ranking to somewhere around 70-80? The Bears could get to 9 wins before their bowl game. My head says the Bears finish the regular season 8-4 with a bowl bid to the Redbox Bowl. My heart says the Bears finish 10-2 with a bowl bid to the Holiday Bowl.