California spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
10:30
AM ET
2011 overall record: 7-6
2011 conference record: 4-5 (4th, North)
Returning starters: offense: 6; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners
WR Keenan Allen, QB Zach Maynard, RB Isi Sofele, CB Marc Anthony, LB Chris McCain, CB Steve Williams

Key Losses
OT Mitchell Schwartz, WR Marvin Jones, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB D.J. Holt, S Sean Cattouse

2011 statistical leaders (*returner)

Rushing: Isi Sofele* (1,322 yards)
Passing: Zach Maynard* (2,990 yards)
Receiving: Keenan Allen* (1,343 yards)
Tackles: Mychal Kendricks (107)
Sacks: Trevor Guyton (5)
Interceptions: Kendricks, Sean Cattouse, D.J. Campbell, Josh Hill*, Steve Williams* (2)

Spring answers

1. Maynard is better: Quarterback Zach Maynard was inconsistent last year. Though he finished the regular season strong, he faltered in the Holiday Bowl loss to Texas. Some thought he might get challenged this spring, but it never happened. The good news is that it didn't happen because Maynard played better. He seemed more comfortable and in control. That's a big plus to take into the summer.

2. Young promise on D: Cal took some hits on its defense, losing six starters, including linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who was only the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. So why no panic? Well, the young talent on the Bears defense, collected from consecutive strong recruiting classes on that side of the ball, might be the best in the conference. The post-spring two-deep included 11 players who were sophomores or younger, and that doesn't include some guys who are certain to help, such as noseguard Viliami Moala.

3. Backfield is deep: The Bears get 1,300-yard rusher Isi Sofele back, but he's going to be in a battle with C.J. Anderson to retain his starting job this fall. Behind them are speedy Brendan Bigelow, Daniel Lasco and Darren Ervin. There is not shortage of guys to help maintain balance on offense.

Fall questions

1. Who's to receive? The post-spring depth chart didn't even bother to list backup receivers. There was Keenan Allen on one side and there was Maurice Harris on the other and that was it. The incoming class of receivers is strong. That's fortunate. The Bears need at least two or three of them to be ready to contribute immediately.

2. LB pecking order? At the beginning of spring, the two inside linebackers were seniors Robert Mullins and J.P. Hurrell. At the end, Hurrell was listed behind Mullins and sophomore Nick Forbes was the second starting inside linebackerB. Sophomore David Wilkerson is behind Forbes, and he was moved from the outside, where he started last year. It didn't seem like he was moved in order to become a backup. Senior Dan Camporeale is No. 1 at one outside linebacker, but he'll have to hold off a charge from the youngsters, such as redshirt freshman Nathan Broussard. In fact, there are a lot of young guys who could make a move this fall, displacing older players.

3. Specialists? The Bears are replacing both punter Bryan Anger, who was good enough to get picked in the third round of the NFL draft, and kicker Giorgia Tavecchio. Junior Vince D'Amato may have the edge at kicker, while incoming freshman Cole Leininger already is listed as the punter. Still, replacing both specialists can sometimes prove frustrating.

Ted Miller | email

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