Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 8/25/12

Cal Football is entering the 2012 NCAAF season unranked, but don’t be surprised if you see the Golden Bears making some noise in the top 25 before the year is over. The Berkley football team is traditionally underrated, and always steps up when there is a big game.

Credit Michael J. Burns/GoldenBearSports.com

Cal’s offense should be solid this year, as the Bears return their three best players on that side of the ball. Quarterback Zach Maynard is now a senior and ready to lead the offense. If he is able to get protection in the pocket, he can be very dangerous. Maynard’s favorite option is star wide receiver Keenan Allen, who is coming off an offseason ankle surgery. Allen played absolutely out of his mind last year, recording 98 receptions for 1343 yards and 6 touchdowns. If Allen can improve these numbers, both his draft stock and Cal’s win total will shoot up tremendously.

With Maynard and Allen, the media often overlooks running back Isi Sofele. The 5’8, 200 pound rock has both great power and speed. Last season Sofele rushed for 1322 yards for 10 touchdowns. His 5.2 yards per carry average is also very impressive, as opposing defenses have trouble finding the little explosive back behind Cal’s offensive line. And Behind Sofole is C.J. Anderson a more than adequate backup who has been turning heads this offseason.

The combination of Maynard, Allen, and Sofele will cause opposing defenses to respect both the run and the pass, which will allow Cal to continue their balanced attack.

The big question for Cal will be if their defense can be as good as their offense. The Bears lost three defensive starters to the NFL draft last season. While this will be a big loss, Cal has a very strong freshmen defensive class that should be able to make an impact right away. In addition, the offenses in the Pac 12 North have a lot of question marks besides Oregon. This will allow the Cal defense to continue to learn as the season goes along.

The ultimate factor for Cal’s success will come down to the performance of several freshmen. Raymond Ford, a speedy cornerback from Junipero Serra (same high school as Robert Woods) should make an immediate impact on the defense. Another freshman that will see some serious time on defense is Mike Barton, who comes from California powerhouse De La Salle. Both players are highly rated and were recruited by some of the best schools in the country. On offense, Bryce Treggs, a freshman receiver, will start opposite of Keenan Allen and will have a lot of opportunities due to the attention Allen demands. Coach Jeff Tedford also said that freshmen receivers Darius Powe and Chris Harper will see the field plenty in their first year.

Cal has one of the toughest schedules in the country, which features consecutive road games at Ohio State and USC. Look for the Bears to finish their season at either 7-5 or 8-4, and then to make a strong showing in their bowl game.


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