Non-bowl primer: California

December, 18, 2012
12/18/12
9:00
AM ET
We've done our bowl primers, but now we take a quick look at teams that are sitting at home this holiday season.

CALIFORNIA (3-9, 2-7)

What went wrong this season? Well, for starters the worst season in his 11-year tenure in Berkeley got coach Jeff Tedford fired, so that's a downer. The Bears were bad on both sides of the ball. The offense scored just 23 points per game. The defense allowed 33. The offense threw a Pac-12-high 21 interceptions. The defense yielded 32 TD passes, second most in the conference. The offense ranked 10th in passing efficiency and surrendered 41 sacks. The defense allowed opponents to convert 45.3 percent of their third-down plays, which ranked 11th in the conference. Both sides of the ball made Cal the nation's second-most penalized team. Zach Maynard didn't take the next step as a senior quarterback, and the young talent on defense didn't live up to its billing. About the only thing that went well was a nice season from kicker Vince D'Amato. Well, other than those three missed field goals at Ohio State that in large part ruined the Bears' upset chances in Week 3.

Low point: There were plenty of notable moments that seemed to doom Tedford: The opening loss to Nevada to open newly remodeled Memorial Stadium; the blown opportunity at Ohio State; Another Big Game loss to Stanford. Two, however, stand out. The listless effort during a 49-27 loss at Utah, a team the Bears beat 34-10 the year before, made it clear there would be no player uprising for a saving run for Tedford. Instead, the Bears lost four in a row to finish the season. But what will surely stand out to many was the 62-14 walloping the Bears took in their season-finale at Oregon State, a horrible way for Tedford to go out after all he had done to rebuild a woebegone program. It was a sloppy, white flag effort from the Bears, and the sight of a resigned Tedford standing on the sidelines in the rain was pretty darn depressing.

How can it get fixed? Cal administrators and boosters believed the best way to fix it was to hire a new coach. Enter Sonny Dykes, who created the nation's highest scoring offense at Louisiana Tech. The first task is injecting some energy into a team that often seemed like it was just going through the motions, one that could look like a potential top-25 team one week and get blown out by three TDs the next. The second is hitting the recruiting trail hard in search of some offensive linemen, receivers and defensive playmakers. The third, which will begin this spring, is figuring out who the next starting quarterback will be. Things started to slide for Tedford when the Bears' QB play became mediocre. Dykes, who tutored Nick Foles at Arizona, will win over a lot of fans with improved QB play.

Bowling in 2013? Probably not. Not with this schedule. The nonconference schedule features visits from a pair of quality Big Ten foes the first three weeks -- Northwestern in the opener and Ohio State two weeks later -- which means Dykes won't get a chance to get an early feel for his team against a soft pre-confererence schedule. The Pac-12 North Division looks tough again in 2013, with Oregon and Stanford likely preseason top-10 teams and Oregon State and Washington preseason top-25 teams. Further, Cal insists on playing USC and UCLA every year, so that's two more potential top-25 teams on the slate. There's some nice young talent coming back in 2013 on both sides of the ball, so this team is sure to notch an upset or two, but a new QB learning a new system protected by a highly questionable offensive line is not a recipe for an immediate turnaround.

Ted Miller | email

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