Thursday, July 31, 2008

Arizona Republic: Cal Seeking Consistency

Consistency escaped California during 2007. Following the season, so did plenty of its players.  The Golden Bears opened the year with a win over Tennessee and capped their second 5-0 start in three years with a win against Oregon in the bellows of Autzen Stadium.   But that would be the peak for California, who would spiral from No. 2 in the country to playing in the Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force. The Golden Bears lost six of their final seven regular season games, which included defeats by Stanford and Washington - the Pac-10's worst two teams.

Not around for cleanup in 2008 is a pack of the Golden Bears' key players. Running back Justin Forsett graduated after a 1,500-yard season in which he scored 15 touchdowns. Tight end Craig Stevens was a third-round selection in the NFL draft, landing with the Tennessee Titans, as was safety Thomas DeCoud, who was picked by the Atlanta Falcons.  Leading the exodus at wide receiver was DeSean Jackson, who opted to turn pro early, and with the exit of fellow wide outs Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan, leaves junior tight end Cameron Morrah and his 14 career receptions as California's most experience receiver.

Possibly providing the only firepower for the Golden Bears' offense is sophomore Jahvid Best. As a true freshman, the running back totaled 221 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and was named First-team All-Pac-10 for his special teams play. Best missed California's final three games in 2007 and all of spring practice because of a hip injury, but coach Jeff Tedford said Best is 100 percent healthy entering the fall. Adding good depth to the position is sophomore Tracy Slocum and redshirt freshman Shane Vereen.

Alas, California can also be added to the list of Pac-10 teams undecided on who is going to be under center at the start of the season.  Senior Nate Longshore was the incumbent but an ankle injury last year left the door open for sophomore Kevin Riley to see action, and Tedford has said the competition could last up until to the Golden Bears' season opener against Michigan State.

No comments: