Cal Golden Bears Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Cal season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
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Cal Golden Bears Preview
Head Coach: Justin Wilcox, 6th year at Cal, 26-28
2021 Preview: Overall: 5-7, Conference: 4-5
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Cal Top 10 Players | Cal Schedule & Analysis
Cal Golden Bears Preview 2022
It really is possible to have a good, winning team in the Pac-12 North.
Oregon State was good enough to go bowling last year. So was Washington State. Cal probably would’ve been able to get to six wins if it hadn’t been hammered with COVID issues before the Arizona game, but it shouldn’t have come down to that.
The program has the potential to rise up, Justin Wilcox really is a good head coach with a strong staff, but …
Enough. It’s time for Cal to start winning more college football games.
26-28 in five seasons and 15-25 in the Pac-12, Wilcox’s teams started out with great defenses, had a little bit of success with two straight winning campaigns, and now it’s just sort of … meh.
The offense was in the middle of the production pack last season, the defense slipped, and there wasn’t any consistency whatsoever. Now the team has to replace just about all the key parts, but there’s hope for a quick turnaround.
The Bears lost five games by a touchdown or less. Most of those were against mediocre-to-bad teams, but it’s not going to take all that much to finally break through.
No, this isn’t going to be a Pac-12 Championship season, but if the defense can get back to its previous form, and the offense confined something to rely on after struggling to average 24 points per game, this can all change in a hurry.
Cal Golden Bears Preview 2022: Offense
For all of its stalls and misfires, in some ways the offense had its best season yet under Wilcox. There was enough of a running game to take over at times – more on that in a bit – and the 5.9 yards per play were the most in five years.
There’s a whole lot of reworking to do with most of the starters gone, but some nice fill-ins from the transfer portal and the depth from last season will play a big role right away.
The running game loses leading rusher Christopher Brooks to BYU, but there was a good rotation with the 220-pound Damien Moore good enough to be the main man in the rotation. Even with all of the changes and shifts on the offense, the line should be good enough to keep pounding away.
This depth of last year will fill in the gaps, there should be a little shuffling of the deck – starting guard Ben Coleman might move to tackle – and everything will be fine as long as the line can continue to keep defenses out of the backfield.
Longtime starting QB Chase Garbers is done, but the spot was filled in fast with the addition of Purdue QB Jack Plummer. He’s a solid veteran who’ll take over without a problem, but the downfield passing game has to emerge even though most of the top targets are gone. However, leading returning receiver Jeremiah Hunter averaged over 18 yards per catch.
Cal Golden Bears Preview 2022: Defense
The Bears is loaded with defensive coaching talent, and now they’ve got the work cut out for them. The D was good overall, but it had a bad knack of not coming up with the big stop in the big moment.
It was awful on third downs, the pass rush was just okay, and it lost all three games when it gave up 200 rushing yards. Like the offensive side, most of the key parts have to be replaced. Also like the offense, there shouldn’t be that much of a concern with a good group seemingly ready to step in and fill the void.
The linebacking corps should be the strength Washington transfer Jackson Sirmon coming in to go along with 240-pound thumper Femi Oladejo on the inside and third-leading tackler Muelu Iosefa. The key will be to replace the pass rushing production of Cameron Goode on the outside, but Orin Patu is a veteran who’s been in the mix.
The line has good size across the from three, with 340-pound Ricky Correia a big body on the nose and Ethan Saunders taking on a bigger role at one end. Getting Xavier Carlton from Arizona State will help the pass rush.
The secondary can hit. Leading tackler Daniel Scott is back after an 82-stop season, and Lu-Magia Hearns is a quick veteran corner. The Bears didn’t get gouged through the air after the first part of last season, but they also didn’t face a slew of high-powered passing games over the second half of the campaign. There aren’t that many on the schedule this year, either.