California Preview

California started the season 4-4, but rebounded to win three of its last four games to finish 7-5 (4-5 Pac-12) and earn a spot in the Holiday Bowl. How do the Bears stack up?

California coach Jeff Tedford is known as an offensive guru with a penchant for quarterback development. And Cal scored almost 30 points per game, especially taking off after former Buffalo transfer Zach Maynard (6-2 190) started playing well at the signal-caller position later in the year.

Maynard completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,806 yards and 17 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, though he really took off in the Bears' last four games. Over those contests he completed 68.5 percent of his throws for a 5-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He can run a bit, though he isn't necessarily a huge running threat.

Running back Isi Sofele (5-8 190) also emerged over that same stretch. Sofele had a great season, rushing for 1,266 yards and nine touchdowns, but like Maynard, he was even better over the Bears' strong four-game closing streak. He averaged 141.3 yards over those games and 157.7 yards over the three wins. C.J. Anderson (5-11 215) provides a bigger complement to Sofele and serves as the team's goal-line back. He has rushed for 343 yards and eight touchdowns this year. Fullback John Tyndall (6-3 240) is pretty much exclusively a blocking back. Tyndall has just two touches — one run and one catch — on the season.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen (6-3 205) completes the trifecta of skill talent. Allen is one of the country's top young wide receivers, catching 89 passes for 1,261 yards and six touchdowns. But he isn't the only target. Marvin Jones (6-3 202) grabbed 55 catches for 762 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Anthony Miller (6-4 260) is the only other player with more than 20 catches, and he caught 23 balls for 254 yards and three touchdowns.

The offensive line has been decent, allowing the Bears to average 4.5 yards per carry and allowing fewer than two sacks per game. The line isn't necessarily a bigger one, with only one player — left tackle Mitchell Schwartz (6-6 318) — tipping the scales at more than 300 pounds. Next to Schwartz is the line's second-biggest player in left guard Brian Schwenke (6-4 300). Right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin (6-4 295), right guard Justin Cheadle (6-3 295) and center Dominic Gallas (6-1 290) round out the group.

Cal's defense, a 3-4, hasn't really been exceptional at anything. The Bears did grab 32 sacks, but they have allowed 130 rushing yards per game and 209 passing yards per contest. Their last time out, Arizona State rushed for 213 yards, averaging 6.7 per carry, and passed for 264 yards.

Defensive ends Trevor Guyton (6-3 280) and Earnest Owusu (6-5 270) are more active than many 3-4 ends, combining for 17.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Guyton has forced and recovered two fumbles as well. Nose guard Aaron Tipoti (6-2 295) is in charge of clogging up the middle, so he isn't especially active as a tackler.

Inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (6-0 240) was one of the top defensive players in the Pac-12. He had 96 stops, 13 behind the line, three sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Fellow inside linebacker D.J. Holt (6-1 242) isn't far behind. He had 81 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and two sacks. Outside 'backers Dan Camporeale (6-3 240) and Cecil Whiteside (6-3 232) had just nine starts between them, but they combined for eight stops in the backfield, three sacks and two forced fumbles.

Marc Anthony (6-2 200) is a bigger cornerback who has broken up 10 passes this season. Steve Williams (5-10 185) has broken up a team high 11 passes and is tied for the team lead with two picks. Nickel back Josh Hill (5-10 202) is a multi-talented player who has three stops in the backfield, a sack, two interceptions and five passes broken up. Both safeties — Sean Cattouse (6-3 218) and D.J. Campbell (6-0 205) are bigger players who are active in run support. Cattouse is a stronger player against the run, while Campbell is more of a free safety type.

Brendan Bigelow has taken a kickoff back 88 yards for a score, but the Bears have been poor in the punt return game. Marvin Jones once gained 37 yards on a punt return, and that return accounts for more than one-third of the team's punt return yardage. Even with that return, the Bears average just 5.3 yards per return. Giorgio Tavecchio has made 19 of his 22 field goals, but just 35-of-41 extra points. He has missed just one kick inside of 40 yards this year, and drilled a 54-yarder against Oregon. He has made his last eight field goal attempts. Punter Bryan Anger has been outstanding, averaging 44.6 yards per punt and putting 18 kicks inside the 20 while only having four touchbacks.

If Cal can win Wednesday, it will mean that the Golden Bears will have taken four of their last five contests, and with Maynard, Sofele and Allen slated to return in 2012, it could set Cal up for a big-time run next year.

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