Cal’s defense was awesome last year, leading the Golden Bears to their second winning season since 2011 in just year two under Justin Wilcox. The offense, well, that was a different story, and with almost all the key pieces back from the D and a lot departing from the offense, I’d expect a similar situation to reveal itself in 2019.
This offense was bad last year, and with the top four pass-catchers, the top rusher, and three starters gone on the line this has a chance to be the worst offense in the power five.
Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain split time last year, combining for a 61% completion rate (not bad), as many interceptions as touchdowns (bad), and just 5.8 yards a throw (very bad). With the top four pass-catchers departing, things won’t get too much better.
In the ground game, two guys with 400-yard years are back, but sophomore Christopher Brown might be an interesting option to build around for the future.
Through the air, senior Jordan Duncan (13.4 YPC, four touchdowns) is the only guy with more than 200 yards receiving returning, but Cal does add a USC transfer, a Michigan transfer, a highly touted JUCO, and former QB McIlwain to the wide receiving room. When you scramble to bring in that many pieces at one position, you are in trouble. This year could be really bad.
The offense is going to struggle but this defense legitimately could be one of the ten best in the country. Seven starters are back, including all four starters and their nickel in what could be the nation’s best secondary. The five combined for 25 PBUs and 15 interceptions last year.
Up front, the two-deep has some holes, but MLB Evan Weaver (4.5 sacks, five TFL, six PBUs, two INTs) and DE Luc Bequette (five sacks) both return. Edge rusher Tevin Paul is back after two sacks and nine TFL last year as well, and they add a four-star JUCO at Will, Kuony Deng, along with 2017 starter Cam Goode, who was out with injury last year. I feel great about this defense.
This team has an awesome defense but an awful and very young offense, and it isn’t hard envisioning a scenario where the defense shows a little regression to the mean and the offense stays stagnant and the Bears miss a bowl thanks to a really tough schedule with games @ Washington, @ Oregon, @ Utah, and @ Stanford.
|Date||Opponent||opp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|21-Sep||at Ole Miss||48||-4.4|
Average Projected Record: 5.4 wins, 6.6 losses (3.4 wins, 5.6 losses)