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Pac 10 Football: Cal Bears Off to Good Start

The critics say, “They will finish behind the Trojans.” I ask, Will they? This is a real good Cal Bears football team. I was at the Maryland game, and the score didn’t really tell the story, as Cal dominated from the first quarter on. This past week against Eastern Washington, another repeat dominating performance.  On Oct. 3 we will be in for a “showdown” game against USC at Memorial Stadium, and if you do not have your tickets, forget it. Sold out!

What kind of team is this year’s version of Cal Bears football? First, they are very, very fast, and the quickness shows up on both offense and defense. Their offensive line moves to the defensive line almost before the defense is set. This group of quick backs, led by Jahvid Best, a legitimate Heisman trophy candidate, is through the line and into the linebackers and secondary before the defense can react. Really quick.

The defensive unit is equally fast, and again, almost running to the ball as fast as the offensive running backs. In fact, on one sweep, the Maryland backs — and they were good —  could not outrun the linebackers. These guys will prove difficult for every offensive line they will face this year.

The pass receivers for Cal were all over the place. Using multiple formations, it is almost as if the defense doesn’t know where Cal is going. Again, very quick and really hard to cover. QB Riley is greatly improved from last year, and he can choose between any one of the four receivers on most plays, and one of those fast wideouts seems to get open on almost every pass play. It is fun to watch, for the receivers run as if they are wound up, with the corners chasing hopelessly. To stop these swift receivers will require a very fast secondary. Slow defensive backs will allow a lot of points, especially if Riley is on target.

Where is the team weak? Probably in the defensive line, as they are not the “giants” that some of the Big 10 teams will field. If the opposition is a big and strong running team, the Bears may be at a disadvantage. Maybe they can make up for the size issue with speed, which they have done in both opening games.

The season really kicks off this week with Pac 10 competition beginning, and in the next few weeks we will see just how good this Bears team is. My sense is that if they can keep healthy, keep speedy and avoid injuries, this can be a championship team.  Go Bears!

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Ron Largent’s knowledge and predictions are based on extensive background reading and his love of the game.  He is a Realtor, business owner and longtime Redding resident. He can be reached at ronlargent@yahoo.com or ronlargent.yourkwagent.com.