California Bears football will return 18 starters, nine on offense and seven on defense. Cal finished 1-3 last season in shorten season due to the Coronavirus. The Bears had high expectations last year; many people finished second in the Pac-12 North last year. But Cal struggled on offense finish last or second to last in major Pac-12 offensive categories.
Cal’s quarterback Chase Garbers will be back and should benefit from a full year under offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave‘s system. Musgrave thinks Garbers is the right guy for his system and feels he should put up good numbers.
The offensive line returns four starters and has some depth, which will help them—running back Chris Brown Jr is back; he rushed for 914 yards in 2019 but only carried the ball 21 times last year. In Musgrave’s offense, Brown should get a lot of opportunities to carry the ball. With four returning started on the offensive line, Cal could lean on the run game a lot this year.
Receivers Kekoa Crawford and Nikko Remigio return, but one of Cal’s weaknesses was no deep threat on offense. So instead, the Bears will look to sophomore Jeremiah Hunter and incoming freshman J. Michael Sturdivant. The freshman is 6’3 and is very good at tracking the deep ball, something Cal needs desperately. Another freshman coming in is Jermaine Terry, a tight end. He could provide many mismatches at the tight end position; he is too big for corners and safeties and too good of a route runner to be covered by linebackers.
One of Cal’s strong points is their defense; they have finished no lower thr fourth in Pac-12 in total defense the last three years. The defensive line is the big question mark for their defense, and they suffered a considerable blow when defensive lineman Brett Johnson sustained a broken hip. Johnson will miss all of the 2021 season, and he is the best defensive lineman on Cal’s roster.
Linebackers are the strength of the Bears’ defense, with Cameron Goode and Kuony Deng returning. Deng led Cal in tackles with 31 last year, while Goode averaged two tackles for a loss in all four games played in 2020. It will be up to Goode and Deng to take Cal’s defense to another level.
In the secondary, Cal has some experience with return safties Elijah Hicks and Daniel Scott. They also have cornerback Josh Drayden, who is back for his sixth year to start our play nickel corner. Another essential addition is Raymond Woodie, who transferred from Flordia State. Woodie has played well in spring ball for the Bears.
Last season, Cal will need to improve their special teams; they had a lot of breakdowns that resulted in blocked kicks and punts. Dario Longhetto and Jamieson Sheahan return as kicker and punter.
The Cal Bears should have a good defense again, but it will be up to their offense to get them to where they want to be in the 2021 season. Cal should be better on offense and score more points with a solid offensive line and some deep speed. It will be interesting to see what they can do this upcoming season. I think the Bears can surprise some people.