The Bears' first fall depth chart was released/leaked yesterday as Coach Tedford met with the press to discuss some personnel decisions and changes.
Courtesy Nam Le twitter.
A few surprises, some stories in between the lines, and some absolute no brainers. Keep in mind that this is the first depth chart, and a bit is subject to change, especially once there's some further clarity as to some injury situations. A few thoughts after the jump.
The big news is that true frosh Bryce Treggs will indeed start against Nevada. I said before that I'd be shocked if Treggs wasn't in the starting lineup for the season opener, but Treggs actually had to overcome a bit of slow start to camp and came on pretty strong in recent weeks.
I like the move as I think he provides a nice contrast to Keenan Allen. He's not nearly as physical a receiver, but he's quick, smooth, and can stretch the field a bit despite not having elite speed. I really do think he's going to have the type of freshman impact in the same vein as Desean or Allen. He's as arguably as polished of a WR as the Bears have had in a freshman in a while.
Hearing about Chris Harper cracking the two deep isn't too much of a surprise as we've heard good things about him, arguably getting the most love from Tedford in the press of all the freshman WRs. Maurice Harris is going to surprise a few people this year, as he's flown a bit under the radar, but he's going to make some nice catches in a contributing role. He'll likely be the first receiver up in 3 or 4 WR sets.
Another true frosh Darius Powe didn't crack the two deep, along with Jackson Bouza, Ross Bostock, and others. But I fully expect all three to log in catches. Kenny Lawler will redshirt this year, which shouldn't be a disappointment to anyone. The kid's got a high ceiling and will benefit from the redshirt year to grow physically, mentally, and academically. You want to bring him along a bit slowly.
Offensive Line The line is about where most people expected, especially after it's been known that sophomore Chris Adcock had jumped out a bit at the RG position. I haven't heard much about redshirt freshman Jordan Rigsbee, so you have to think he's been holding steady here.
The freshmen olinemen (Tagaloa, Cochran, Moore and Okafor) are noticeably absent, but I'm ok with that. Again, I would prefer to make sure they're ready and able to get quality snaps if they're going to use a year of eligibility. These guys are the future of the o-line. I'd venture a guess that Tagaloa might be the most ready to play of the four, but that the coaching staff won't throw him out in a game unless the offensive line depth sees a real hit due to injury.
And Matt Williams, where the hell did you come from?
Tight End No real news here other than Tedford's announcement that true freshman Maximo Espitio will not redshirt. Very interesting given Spencer Hagan's secure lock on the H-back spot, but my guess is that the coaching staff has seen enough from him to throw him out there. True frosh tight ends are no real surprise in Cal's recent history, but few have posted any huge numbers right away. Simple game experience and special teams contributions will help Maximo immensely. And at the very least, we need someone named Maximo on the field, stat.
Quarterback The only interesting movement was Austin Hinder winning the 3rd quarterback spot. You know the depth chart there is set when that's the only real question. It is worth noting though that Austin Hinder has had a reportedly very good fall camp. He's put on some noticeable mass and provides a real nice balance of passing and running ability. I've even heard whispers that he's make a push for the backup QB spot.
Zach Kline will almost undoubtedly redshirt at this point, but will travel with the team. That would leave Kyle Boehm with the unfortunate position of staying at home when the team travels, but it's still very early in the career of the redshirt freshman QB.
Fullback After coming off a season ending injury, most expected Eric Stevens to be the starting fullback if he could get fully healthy and confident again. He showed some nice things early on in his career and could really shine in the role in his senior season.
There was some competition for the backup FB spot, and I'm actually really happy that Dasarte Yarnway grabbed it. I've rooted for him since the Bears recruited him, as he has a great story, and though he hasn't made a splash at tailback, I think he has the potential to do some interesting things at fullback. He's not a natural lead blocker, and will have to put on some weight for the job, but he can certainly do some things in terms of picking up first downs in short yardage situations and catching the ball out of the backfield like he did in the spring game.
Runningback Both Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson are listed in bold as starters. Runningback controversy? Nothing to see here, for now at least. Sofele will get the first snap, but I expect CJA's workload to increase immensely over last year's rep distribution. Sofele's carries are going to go down quite a bit this year, and I think that's going to be better for both Sofele and Anderson.
Defensive Line This is the first area where there's been some movement as a result of injuries. Mustafa Jalil has been absent due to an undisclosed injury so it looks like Keni Kaufusi has stepped up into the backup spot behind Deandre Coleman.
Expect there to be a lot of movement and rotation throughout the course of a game. The Bears may shift to a 4-3 in certain situations, which could conceivably see Moala joining Payne as the other DT, or having Tipoti slide into that spot while Todd Barr moves in at defensive end. There's a lot of potential here in this deep group, but I'll be far more worried if we hear about more injuries other than the one with Jalil. Even that alone has me a bit nervous, but then again, I'm a Cal fan.
Linebackers As suspected, Brennan Scarlett will likely start at the other OLB spot opposite Chris McCain. McCain has reportedly been on crutches, though I've heard it's not serious enough to keep him sidelined for the Nevada game. At least I hope.
The more interesting bits are at inside linebacker. I fully expected Robert Mullins to start at one spot, but it looks like injury has again forced Dave Wilkerson out of action, and he's likely to miss the season opener. Huge bummer, as this guy has the real potential to be a very good ILB if he can just freaking stay healthy.
On the bright side, JP Hurrell will step up into that role, and it might certainly make more sense to have two senior linebackers manning the middle against a trickier zone-read offense at Nevada. I would also much rather have Wilkerson sit out one game and be ready for conference play than force him into action sooner than later and have him miss more games down the stretch.
And this is just my gut, but I expect Wilkerson and Nick Forbes to be starting by midseason should both stay healthy. They're that good.
Secondary Like I said in yesterday's post, I think Marc Anthony and Steve Williams make one of the better and more experienced DB duos in the conference. Having Adrian Lee and Kameron Jackson back them seems solid and logical.
As one of Cal's defensive leaders, you're going to see Josh Hill quarterback the secondary in the WS spot, like Chris Conte and DJ Campbell did before him. You may also see him move to nickelback in certain situations, allowing Michael Lowe to slide in there.
Alex Logan is slotted at the other safety spot. He's a big hitter and can do some good things in run support, but I can't honestly say I've seen enough of him in pass coverage to know how well he'll do there.
Many avid online Cal fans are noticing the visible absence of fan favorite Avery Sebastian in the two deep. As much as I love Sebastian, and I do, I don't see this too much of an indictment on him. He's still developing coverage skills, and senior Tyre Ellison has reportedly have a strong camp. Sebastian is still going to play quite a bit this year.
Oh, and one last thing. Cedric Dozier, one of the Bears' touted freshman WRs, will make the switch to defensive back. As an Army All-American ATH, Dozier was all over the field in HS. Upon seeing that he would redshirt, Dozier apparently decided he had a better shot cracking the depth chart at defensive back rather than at WR. With Marc Anthony graduating at the end of this year, and with the Bears losing Raymond Ford and Willie Fletcher, the move makes sense. The Bears are adding some serious talent in the secondary next year with both Dozier and Stefan McClure returning from a likely redshirt year. And at the very worst, Dozier could always switch back and not lose a beat.
Special Teams No surprises with Cole Lenninger and Vince D'Amato in the punter and kicker spot respectively. Keenan Allen will indeed return punts which is a huge boon for special teams. He's done something special nearly every time he's fielded a punt and will provide a lot more excitement in that role.
I also like keeping Brendon Bigelow and Mike Manuel in the kickoff return roles. I think Bigelow is going to crank it into another gear this year and Manuel was solid in nearly every return last year. Not necessarily a homerun threat, but always gaining solid field position for the Bears.