RB Marshawn Lynch (PHOTO CREDIT - Michael Pimentel)

2004 Statistics

Coach: Jeff Tedford
25-13, 3 years
2004 Record: 10-2
at Air Force WON 56-14
at Oregon State WON 49-7
at Southern California LOST 17-23
UCLA WON 45-28
at Arizona WON 38-0
at Washington WON 42-12
at Southern Miss WON 26-16
vs. Texas Tech LOST 31-45

2004 Final Rankings
AP-9, Coaches-9, BCS-5

2005 Outlook

Even following one of the most successful seasons in school history, the Bears left 2004 with a sour taste outside the Holiday Bowl. A hurricane-delayed tilt with Southern Mississippi resulted in a 10-point win, but the Bears didn't dominate, and they slipped just enough in the late-season BCS polls to become the odd-man out of the major bowls. Cal then reflected its disappointment by not even showing up in a 45-31 loss to a seemingly inferior Texas Tech squad. The statement this makes about the coaches' abilities to motivate (and the remaining players' integrity) is huge, and must be countered before three years worth of growing momentum is lost. Character is how Cal rose from abysmal to mediocrity, and then to their present top-flight levels, and without continuity this way, the Bears will quickly sink back to a previous form.

USC alone makes the Pac 10 crown (again) an unrealistic focus. The bright side is, though, that the Bears still are going to be one of the most talented and well coached teams in the conference. No one can tell how long until the new talent can/will perform at past levels. Early season wins will be tougher than expected, but the non-conference slate is extremely forgiving, and, as already stated, conference tilts aren't much to worry about until mid-October.

Cal could be rolling along as one of the nation's better teams, and sitting pretty near the top of the conference, staring down the Trojans for a November 12th tangle in Berkeley. It's all relative, however, and Bear fans must also realize that a four-loss season also appears to be conceivable. The range of where they could land is wide. Even so, Cal seems to be one of those feel-good programs, the type that American football fans embrace as being one of their own.

For a team that loses so many great starters, including all-American caliber players at both RB and QB, any consistency early will be hard to come by, but the pains will be worth it. A young set of backs and receivers, together with a revamped defensive front seven, will provide the new storyline. All the efforts need to focus on a very difficult late-season slate, by which point this team will have already discovered destiny. You can save the "Tedford-for-hire" talk now. We can see Oski jumping already...

Projected 2005 record: 8-3
C Marvin Philip (PHOTO CREDIT - Michael Pimentel)
QB - 3.5 DL - 3
RB - 4.5 LB - 3
WR - 2.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 5 ..

Passing: None-Marshawn Lynch, 2-2-0, 34 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Marshawn Lynch, 71 att., 628 yds., 8 TD

Receiving: Robert Jordan, 29 rec., 332 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Tom Schneider, 9-16 FG, 56-57 PAT, 83 pts.

Punting: David Lonie, 47 punts, 40.0 avg.

David Lonie, 47 punts, 40.0 avg.

Tackles: Donnie McClesky, 38 tot., 27 solo

Sacks: Brandon Mebane, 2.5 sacks

Interceptions: Tim Mixon, 3 for 58 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Marshawn Lynch, 15 ret., 24.8 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Tim Mixon, 25 ret., 11.1avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Reggie Robertson-QB, J.J. Arrington-TB, Geoff McArthur-WR, Burl Toler-WR, Jonathan Makonnen-WR, Chase Lyman-WR, Garrett Cross-TE, Jonathan Giesel-OG, Aaron Rodgers-QB (NFL)
DEFENSE: Ryan Riddle-DE, Lorenzo Alexander-DT, Tom Sverchek-DE, Wendell Hunter-OLB, Sid Slater-MLB, Francis Blay-Miezah-OLB, Joe Maningo-LB, Matt Giordano-ROV, Ryan Gutierrez-FS

To say that Cal lacks experience at quarterback would be a gross understatement. No one returning QB on the Bear roster has ever tossed the pigskin in a real game situation. The extreme deprivation of experience here is offset by the young talent waiting in the wings. The youthful inexperience under center may prove a detriment at first, but you'd be hard pressed to find a program that develops young signal-callers quite like Cal. In other words, any lumps taken early will translate into that much more success later on. Enter top junior college stud Joseph Ayoob straight from Cal's own Bay Area. Ayoob's prototypical size and great athleticism makes him a prime work-in-progress for the capably awaiting hands of head coach Jeff Tedford. Both redshirt freshman Nathan Longshore (6'5", 225lbs. with superior arm strength) and Joseph Ayoob have all the necessary tools to become the next great Golden Bear quarterback(s), so expect to see a noticeable progression at the position as the season advances.

Running Back
As gaudy as J.J. Arrington's stats were a year ago, it is freshman Marshawn Lynch's eye-popping 8.8 YPC (and eight TDs in just 71 carries) that now jumps out the most. It's rare the case that the loss of a 2000-yard rusher results in such minor drop off, but that seems to be true in Berkeley. Despite being a mid-sized back, Lynch still displays the great power running-style as a perfect complement to his fantastic breakaway speed. With a lack of firepower at wideout, expect all backs to be used more as route-runners. Moreover, expect a more concerted effort to put Lynch in one-on-one situations with slower defenders, a stage on which his talents are proven able to thrive. The Bear backup TBs are built the same, so little changes scheme-wise in any rotations (senior Terrell Williams had an 8.4 YPC average in '04 himself). Additionally, returning FB Chris Manderino's role should invoke even more of an offensive presence. His two TDs through the air should signal opponents that coaches like to send the ball his way. A strong line, too, means the glass here is definitely half full, so to speak.

The loss of four-fifths of a talented receiving core creates a vacuum of experience here. The two-deep talent here consists almost exclusively of '04 redshirts and incoming freshmen. The most experienced of the bunch, sophomore Robert Jordan, will again. Jordan was a short-route guy (longest catch 29yds.), but his role will now expand greatly. After such a promising spring report prior to 2004, speedster Sam DeSa failed to produce. Now, with less depth at the spot, look for DeSa to compete with incoming freshmen Desean Jackson, and CCSF-transfer Lavelle Hawkins for the right to start opposite Jordan. Jackson comes in as the No.3 nationally-rated WR recruit this year (Rivals.com), and we expect him to be in the mix early. An all-around deficiency in terms of size (none is taller than 6') is a definite concern, but what this group lacks in size, it makes up for with tremendous athleticism. Offensive coordinator George Cortez will make an attempt to spread the field, which is their best chance at being successful with a learning QB.

Tight End
Being that the tight end is so highly utilized in Cal's offensive approach, the loss of Garrett Cross will somewhat hamper the efforts to comfortably evolve a new offensive backfield. Here is yet another offensive position faced with two-deep youth talent, and inexperience galore. Craig Stevens has been described as a primarily blocking TE, and was the second tight end listed behind the now-departed Cross. He has great size, but lacks that mismatch-type of quick-bursting speed needed to be a great pass catcher. Converted WR John Rust is the smallest and quickest of the bunch, and has shown potential in limited showings over the past two seasons, but lacks the blocking instincts needed to be an every down player. This dimension's limitations, along with the new QB(s), will hinder Cal's usual dynamic play-calling.

Offensive Line
With a fantastic 6.1 yards-per-rush mark, it's rather surprising that four of five "big nasties" return to the trenches. Aside from the loss of OG Jonathan Giesel, the '05 line appears more than ready to anchor this young offense. The new guard inside will be Erik Robertson, a low-centered strongman revered for his accomplishments in the weight room by Cal coaches. Robertson has been praised for his great run-blocking leverage and raw power, but needs to be better in pass-blocking. The 25-sack total of last season will likely increase, but not at the expense of poor line play. All starters being upper classmen means that this is one of the best crews in the conference, if not the entire nation.

With so many losses here, 2005's production won't come anywhere near that of last year. A new quarterback must mature amongst playmakers who have yet to be discovered. Cal's last two recruiting classes have ranked amongst the best, so every skill position - save TE - should have plenty of hungry, emerging achievers. Both QBs are drop-back style passers, so a conservative approach is easy to predict at first. Until time is given for WR depth to develop, the Bears will rely early on Marshawn Lynch, and then clever play-calling, utilizing the speed at receiver to keep the chains moving. Simply put, so as the QB-WR development goes, so goes the entire team's winning potential. With the ease of the first six games, expect this to again be a juggernaut by mid-season.


OT Ryan O'Callaghan (PHOTO CREDIT - Michael Pimentel)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Joseph Ayoob-Jr (6-3, 220) Nathan Longshore-So (6-5, 225)
FB Chris Manderino-Sr (6-1, 230) Byron Storer-Jr (6-1, 215)
TB Marshawn Lynch-So (5-11, 215) Marcus O'Keith-Jr (6-1, 190)
WR Sam DeSa-So (5-11, 185) David Gray-Jr (6-3, 220)
WR Robert Jordan-So (5-11, 160) Noah Smith-So (5-11, 180)
TE Craig Stevens-So (6-5, 255) Eric Beegun-Jr (6-3, 250)
OT Andrew Cameron-Jr (6-5, 305) Mike Tepper-Fr (6-6, 320)
OG Erik Robertson-Jr (6-2, 305) Brian De La Puente-So (6-4, 295)
C Marvin Philip-Sr (6-2, 305) Alex Mack-Fr (6-5, 295)
OG Aaron Merz-Sr (6-4, 340) Noris Malele-So (6-4, 280)
OT Ryan O'Callaghan-Sr (6-7, 360) Scott Smith-Jr (6-4, 265)
K Tom Schneider-So (6-0, 185) Anthony Binswanger-So (6-2, 195) (KO)



Defensive Line
The Bear defensive front appears more dismantled than is actually the case. Despite the loss of large amounts of starting talent up front, Cal maintains at least eight dependable rotation players in the two-deep charts. Sixth-year defensive end Tosh Lupoi returns to provide much needed leadership in the front seven. Lupoi's exceptional size is their key for defending outside the tackles. His 37 tackles led all Bear front seven defenders in '03. Starting weakside at DE will be smallish junior Steve Kelly, a partial starter who can also drop dependably into coverage. Big, bruising defensive tackle Brandon Mebane returns as well, and has a great run-stuffing inside presence (six TFLs in his 25 stops). Another force is a must to accompany Mebane inside. A pair of green DTs comes in from Hawai'i, but only spring drills can give any legitimate answers here. Watch for position changes in an attempt to develop a larger inside presence at the expense of so much depth at end.

All but one starting LB has graduated, leaving several sophomores and incoming junior college stars ready. Ryan Foltz is the lone returner in the unit, and as a converted safety, his size here has affected his production. Much hype surrounds incoming JUCO blue-chip speedster Desmond Bishop in the middle, and he is expected to snag a starting spot. Bishop's highly-praised instinctive play made him an all-American (SFCC), and now a definite presence for the Bears. With so much youth competing fiercely for the other spots, developments here won't be known until post-spring. In the "pass first, run second" conference known as the Pac 10, youthful inexperience at LB will have its work cut out, but looks up to the task. Two-deep development is expected for all three spots by mid-season. Early bites in play-action schemes will be hard learned lessons that had best come in handy around October, when the tougher conference foes come a calling.

Defensive Back
At DB, Cal has found a cornerstone on which to build its defensive efforts. Both corners return from last season's labored effort, ad experienced depth should make the needed difference. Senior Donnie McCleskey returns to his starting position at rover after leading the '03 team in tackles (102). McCleskey is a ball-hawk and expected to make a return to prior form. Three solid third-year starters provide stability. CB Harrison Smith's size, along with his 17 pass-breakups, makes him a reliable shut-down guy. Lack of depth in front of them could create issues of extended coverage, and the occasional big play will result from such.

There isn't much to say, other than stating the rather obvious heavy losses endured throughout the front seven. That front seven created such havoc that foes passed early and often to stay in the game, the result being the Bear's marginal secondary numbers. All of that switches around this campaign. With a solid secondary upon which to build, it seems imminent that the Bears will have issues stopping the run early. Without the depth at LB, and the benefit of a consistent push at DT, a decent pass rush will take a while, meaning more big plays for Bear opposition. Cal has a chance, though, to approach its 24th rank in total defense. Those first six games will signal just how much trouble this side of the ball is in.


DB Donnie McCleskey (PHOTO CREDIT - Michael Pimentel)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Tosh Lupoi-Sr (6-4, 260) Philip Mbakogu-So (6-3, 265)
DT Matt Malele-So (6-3, 305) Chet Teofilo-Fr (6-3, 265)
DT Brandon Mebane-Jr (6-3, 290) Albert Ma'afala-Jr (6-4, 280)
DE Nu'u Tafisi-Jr (6-2, 260) Steve Kelly-Jr (6-1, 250)
OLB Ryan Foltz-Sr (6-2, 225) Chris Purtz-Jr (6-2, 215)
MLB Desmond Bishop-Jr (6-2, 245) ..
OLB Greg Van Hoesen-So (6-3, 225) Worrell Williams-Fr (6-0, 255)
CB Harrison Smith-Sr (6-2, 200) Tim Mixon-Jr (5-8, 180)
CB Daymeion Hughes-Jr (6-2, 185) ..
ROV Donnie McCleskey-Sr (5-10, 190) Bernard Hicks-Fr (6-1, 200)
FS Thomas DeCoud (6-3, 200) Wale Forrester-Jr (5-10, 200)
P David Lonie-Sr (6-6, 220) ..




A benign performance in the kicking game by Tom Schneider leaves much to be desired here, nailing just 4-of-11 from more than 30 yards away, and therefore creating a pressure unneeded for this very young offense. Kickoff coverage yielded just over 20 yards per attempt last season, but continued improvement is necessary to avoid placing a suspect defense in proverbial holes.

With big-legged punter David Lonie coming back for his senior season, Cal appears solid in at least one special teams area. Lonie has shown great promise with the consistent booting of 50+ yarders in practice, but his showings in real-game situations have yet to meet such expectations. Defensive holes mean eager, non-starting coverage guys will want to show their wares.

Return Game
With Marshawn Lynch moving to starter at RB, it seems unlikely that Tedford will allow him on kickoffs. With so much speed at WR, someone is bound to emerge as a steady returner.