Cal fans predict a 98% chance of victory, as they figure the Bears will win 8 games this season. Here are some things to look out for from the Bears in their season opener.
Offensive line play. How well people are getting off their blocks. How quickly is Brian Schwenke getting out of his assignment and pulling to lead block for Shane Vereen? When guys are running inside zone, are they moving swiftly to the second level? Can Donovan Edwards handle his right side with ease? Will Mitchell Schwartz be able to control his edge as well as he managed the right side? Many questions remain unanswered, and will probably continue to be unanswered well into September.
Fullbacks. We've been wondering a lot about whether Eric Stevens and Will Kapp can rise to the challenge and become the next Chris Manderino or Will Ta'ufo'ou--a versatile, hard-hitting blocker who will also come out of the backfield and be another option for the quarterback. Or will they just be hardworkers who occasionally miss crucial blocks? Could their inexperience be the weak link that sinks the Cal offense? Or will they be blasting the linebackers off their angles?
Tight end sets. Considering how fond Ludwig was of that formation, I expect to see a lot of two tight end sets on first down, especially now that Ludwig has a capable platoon of Anthony Miller, Spencer Ladner, Jarrett Sparks, and Jacob Wark to rely on. Expect to see the tight ends block a lot early to try and force defenses to key in on the run, opening up single coverage opportunities for Riley to exploit with his receivers. Watch particularly how well the tight ends are running their routes. Ladner is definitely the more imposing figure and has the age advantage, but Wark could surprise a lot of people with his athleticism and soft hands.
For the UC Davis perspective, check out the California Golden Blogs interview with The California Aggie, UC Davis's student-run newspaper.
Who is the #1 threat on offense?
Grace: Our two-year starter at quarterback, Greg Denham, announced earlier this spring that he was leaving the team before what would be his senior season. A highlight on Saturday will be newly named starter Randy Wright’s debut at the helm for the UC Davis. Obviously, there was a large amount of emphasis placed on finding a new quarterback during the offseason, but the focus on the rest of the team remained intense as well. Losing a number of impact players to graduation has shifted the focus of the coaching staff to creating a blue-collar mentality. As cliché as it sounds, until individual threats emerge, the Aggies will utilize a unified team-centric mentality.
Jason: Senior running back Joe Trobbetta. If you asked me this question three months ago, I would have said QB Josh Denham without any hesitation, but since the former starting QB left the team to join the ministry, the Aggies are going to be a run heavy offense. Expect Trombetta to get a good load of touches. He's not the fastest runner, but he can barrel through the holes. Once he finds the openings, however, he has some closing speed.