2004 Golden Bears Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> <A HREF=http://scout.TheInsiders.com/a.z?s=166&p=8&c=1&nid=897739>Jeff Tedford</A> (3rd year, 15-11 overall)<br><br> <b>Last Season's Record:</b> 8-6 (5-3, T-3rd in Pac-10)<br><br><b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2003 Insight Bowl (52- 49 win against <A HREF=http://virginiatech.TheInsiders.com>Virginia Tech</A>)<br><br><b>Key matchup(s):</b> Oct. 2 at <A HREF=http://oregonstate.TheInsiders.com>Oregon State</A>, Nov. 6 <A HREF=http://oregon.TheInsiders.com>Oregon</A>

Star Power: QB Aaron Rodgers, Junior 6-2 195; WR Geoff MacArthur, Senior 6-1 200; OT Ryan O'Callaghan, Junior 6-7 330; DT Lorenzo Alexander, Senior 6-3 295; LB Wendell Hunter, Senior 6-1 230; SS Donnie McCleskey, Junior 5-10 195

Notable Additions: RB Marshawn Lynch Fr 5-11 200 Oakland Tech HS, TE Craig Stevens RSFr 6-5 250 Peninsula HS, OG Bryan Deemer JCTr 6-4 300 San Joaquin Delta JC, CB Thomas DeCoud RSFr 6-3 175 Pinole Valley HS, DE Phillip Mbakogu Fr 6-3 260 Hayward HS, P/PK David Lonie JCTr 6-6 215 Ellsworth CC

Notable Subtractions: RB Adimchinobe Echemandu, OT Chris Murphy, OT Mark Wilson, DT Josh Beckham, CB James Bethea

09/04/04@Air Force
09/11/04New Mexico State
09/16/04@Southern Mississippi
10/02/04@Oregon State
10/09/04@Southern California
10/30/04Arizona State
Offensive Overview: The first question all Bear fans must ask is can Aaron Rodgers rebound from major knee surgery and play a full slate of games this fall? There have been no indicators that suggest the operation was anything but a success. The key to his good health will be the play of the offensive line and running backs.

The OL is anchored at tackle by Andrew Cameron and Ryan O'Callaghan. Lining up between this pair are C Marvin Philip, OG Jonathan Geisel and OG Aaron Merz. This formidable unit is fully capable of providing Rodgers with adequate protection and opening holes for the rushing attack.

Led by RB's J.J. Arrington and Terrell Williams, the Bears will feature a strong run game. Additionally, incoming freshman, Marshawn Lynch is expected to see some action as well. He is a major talent waiting to burst onto the college football scene.

Cal has a WR corps as deep and talented as any in recent memory. All-American candidate Geoff MacArthur will team with Johnathan Makonnen to give the Bears the best starting pair in the Pac-10. Depth will be provided by Insight Bowl star Chase Lyman, Burl Toler, a sure handed clutch receiver and freshmen, Sam DeSa, Sean Young and Noah Smith. The wildcard in the group is David Gray, a receiver who has yet to tap his unlimited potential.

Craig Stevens and Garrett Cross are the top returning TE's. Coach Tedford singled out Stevens several times in Spring practice for his efforts. Look for him to make a big impression this fall.

Defensive Overview: Many questions surround the Cal defense, including: will the DL generate more than 1.3 sacks/game and what about depth at cornerback?

The answer to the first question must be yes if the Bears are to be successful on defense. A strong pass rush will take pressure off the secondary. Can the Cal DL step up to the challenge? The Bears are certainly experienced. Lettermen Ryan Riddle, Tosh Lupoi, Ray Tago, Tom Sverchek, Brandon Mebane and honors candidate, Lorenzo Alexander all return. In addition, highly touted freshmen, Matt Malele and Phillip Mbakogu, are preparing for their first season in a Cal uniform. If these eight men can bring the heat, Cal will be set for a huge season.

Coach Tedford has focused considerable effort on improving team speed at LB. This season Bear fans should begin to see the fruits of his labor. Ryan Estes, coming off two lost seasons due to injury, and Joe Maningo, returning from a injury-plagued season, have both demonstrated good speed in the past. Returning starters, Wendell Hunter and Francis Blay-Miezah provide toughness at the position and Sid Slater and Brian Tremblay are able reserves.

The most exciting development in Cal football in the recent past is the sharp improvement at cornerback. This season the Bears will present a solid two deep, Tim Mixon, Donte Hughes, Harrison Smith and Thomas DeCoud. This quartet is as talented as any the Bears have had in a number of years. Yes, the Bears have adequate depth at CB. Backing the corners are All-American Strong Safety Candidate, Donnie McCleskey, and Free Safeties Matt Giordano and Ryan Gutierrez.

Special Teams Overview: JC Transfer David Lonie is being counted upon to significantly upgrade the punting game. He is known for getting a lot of air under the ball thus preventing appreciable return yardage. Placekicking duties will be handled by Lonie or one of two redshirt freshmen, Tom Schneider or Anthony Binswanger. The players to watch on the return units are Sam DeSa (punt returns) and Frank Summers (wedge-buster). Last year, Cal's kick-off coverage unit lost some luster as they fell from No.1 in the conference the previous year to No.6. Look for the unit to bounce back. For the first time since he arrived at Cal, Special Teams Coach Pete Alamar has had a full off-season to develop coverage schemes.

The Golden Bears will wind up in Pasadena... on New Year's Day if USC plays for the National Championship in the Orange Bowl.

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