Today, we embark on the Pac-12 North, with California, in our series on the league’s spring-football camps. We’ll move on to Stanford, up through the Oregon schools and finish it with the Washingtons.
Returning starters: 16 (8 each way), plus P Cole Leininger.
Refresher on 2013: It was nothing short of disastrous, as the first-year regime of Sonny Dykes beat only Portland State (37-30) and lost every other game in an injury-plagued 1-11 season. Bears allowed 7.1 yards per play and carry into 2014 a 10-game losing streak, 14 to Pac-12 teams and 16 to FBS opponents.
Coaching changes: In a messy move that didn’t help his stock, Dykes reassigned defensive coordinator Andy Buh – hired at a $500,000-per-year salary over three years – and brought aboard Art Kaufman, who came from the University of Cincinnati. Also in the fold is defensive backs coach Greg Burns, former cornerback at WSU in the Drew Bledsoe era.
Spring concerns: Improvement across the board, upgrading a defense that was terrible in 2013 and adjusting to Kaufman’s ways.
Developments: Dykes called the secondary the most improved unit on the team, and it needed to be . . . defensive tackle is a big question entering fall, as the top four candidates in spring hadn’t played a D-1 down . . . at that spot, Jacobi Hunter was out resolving a personal matter and Mustafa Jalil was recovering from knee surgery . . . Jalil remains a questionmark, and Cal signed two JC DTs . . . S Avery Sebastian returned from a lost 2013 season after a bad concussion and a torn Achilles . . . but Sebastian, DB Stefan McClure and LB Nathan Broussard were limited by injury rehab . . . DE Brennan Scarlett, out in ’13 with a hand problem and then a resulting staph infection, could make a big difference . . . Lakes High product CB Cedric Dozier was listed as second-team . . . QB Jared Goff had off-season shoulder-separation surgery, but participated . . . behind him, Austin Hinder and Kyle Boehm dueled for the backup job . . . Dykes liked the play of RB Daniel Lasco . . . another back, rising soph Khalfani Muhammad, split time with track sprints . . . Bryce Treggs has moved from outside to inside receiver, and should team with Chris Harper and Kenny Lawler to be a potent group . . . Steven Moore moved from RT to LT, while OL Chris Adcock and Matt Cochran return from injuries in the fall . . . highly touted RB Tre Watson will get a good look in fall camp . . . Dykes closed down more than half of the spring workouts, saying of the lack of privacy, “There’s too much out there.”
Spring game: Goff capped the Cal Spring Football Experience by going 14 of 23 for 170 yards. But Scarlett called the defense “dominating.”
Quotable: Dykes, on the progress – “We had eight scrimmages and didn’t have any significant injuries. Everybody feels we’re a lot better team than we were a year ago.”
2014 schedule: Bears open at Northwestern, finish the season at home against BYU, and have five Pac-12 home games – including one against Oregon at the 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium.