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Hope & concern: California

5/10/2011

Every team has hope heading into the offseason. And every team has concerns.

Ergo, we're going to run through the conference and look at the chief matters -- on the up and downside -- for each Pac-12 team.

Next up:

California

Biggest reason for hope: The band is back together on the coaching staff.

When California surged out of the Pac-10 cellar and challenged USC for conference supremacy, Jeff Tedford was calling plays, Jim Michalczik was coaching the offensive line and Eric Kiesau oversaw the receivers. In those days, the Bears offense was potently balanced between the run and pass and, most important, it was feared. That hasn't been the case of late, and perhaps part of that drop-off was due to the departures of Kiesau in 2005 and Michalczik in 2008. Well, the reunion tour starts in 2011. Tedford not only will call plays but he will take a strong role with the quarterback coaching, such as attending all meetings. Michalczik is back coaching the line but also is the coordinator, while Kiesau oversees the passing game and running backs coach Ron Gould is the running game coordinator. These guys have worked well together in the past, so it's perfectly reasonable to believe they will do so again.

Biggest reason for concern: Two letters: QB

Of course, even the best coaches can't do much without talent, and it's even more challenging for a team to play at a high level without a talented quarterback. Quarterback has transformed from a Cal position of strength -- Kyle Boller, Aaron Rodgers, early Nate Longshore -- to a position of inconsistency and even weakness. Tedford cut his quarterback competition down to three guys fairly early in spring practices: Zach Maynard, Brock Mansion and Allen Bridgford and then it became clear that Maynard was ahead because he was seeing the most action with the No. 1 offense. Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo who is also the half-brother of receiver Keenan Allen, is a run-pass threat whose potential has obviously intrigued Tedford, who's typically been more of a QB-in-the-pocket sort of coach. If the Bears get solid play at QB, they will be contenders in the Pac-12 North Division. If they don't, they could finish near the bottom.