BERKELEY, Calif. – With the first week of fall camp finished, including three open practices that the press could observe, there won’t be a better time to compare and contrast what was already a given for the California offense and what has changed already.
What We Knew: Zach Maynard is the starting quarterback.
What We Learned: Don’t expect Zach Kline to see the field in 2012.
If you were holding out hope the talented freshman from Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley would master the playbook over the summer and seriously challenge for the No. 1 role, it won’t happen.
If you were holding out hope Jeff Tedford would channel his inner-Pete Carroll and throw Kline out there, conventional logic be damned, sorry.
Despite being the most talented signal-caller on the roster by a mile – his arm strength and innate leadership leap off the field – Kline remains stuck receiving third, fourth, or occasionally fifth-team reps alongside redshirt sophomore Austin Hinder and redshirt freshman Kyle Boehm.
And while Kline certainly gives Cal a better upside over the long-term, Tedford seems wiling to live and die by Maynard in this critical season. Now if the starter were lost for an extended period or if the season spirals out of control, perhaps Tedford will have no other option than using Kline.
Barring that, get used to seeing the future of the program in a hat signaling in plays on Saturdays this fall.
What We Knew: Cal has running backs for days.
What We Learned: C.J. Anderson will have a bigger role this season.
Straight out of Laney College, Anderson never had back-to-back games with double-digit carries last season. That will change this year.
Now a senior with his weight under control, Anderson has made a strong case for the starting job in the past seven days, proving equally adept in all facets of the game. At worst, he will be an often-used backup capable of taking pressure off incumbent Isi Sofele, and more importantly off Maynard and the passing game.
Factor in the continued development of second-year backs Brendan Bigelow and Daniel Lasco, along with Dasarte Yarnway, who can double as a fullback, and Maynard’s natural mobility, the offense could and should look more like Nebraska or Oregon at times than the pro-style that has been Tedford’s calling card.
What We Knew: Freshmen will have to be in the wide receiver rotation.
What We Learned: Which ones will play depends on the day of the week.
Bryce Treggs is not Keenan Allen or Marqise Lee, not a physical specimen capable of dominating the game through sheer athleticism. Nor is he DeSean Jackson, the burner capable of getting deep at will, or Robert Woods, with hands so reliable the football could be a Faberge egg and still never risk hitting the ground.
In fact based on what the media has seen, there is a strong case to be made Treggs has been only fourth best among the five touted true freshmen receivers. While he has swagger for days, Chris Harper and Cedric Dozier have been more consistently impressive, while Darius Powe looks to have the greatest upside simply with his size.
But it is entirely possible Treggs has been best on the other days, and will be the force recruiting analysts project him to be.
Someone has to play. Who? To be determined.
What We Knew: The interior of the offensive line is a work in progress.
What We Learned: Dominic Galas’ injury leaves Cal in a precarious state.
The torn pectoral muscle that will leave Galas sidelined for three months could throw the Bears’ front five into complete upheaval. While the redshirt senior was projected to start at right guard, his absence thrusts redshirt sophomore Geoffrey Gibson into the lineup.
Gibson has been shaky, so coaches may experiment with Chris Adcock at that spot going forward. He also serves as the No. 2 center, so if starter Brian Schwenke gets hurt, it would mean moving Jordan Rigsbee over from left guard or using Adcock.
In short, the number of moving pieces that could result from that one injury is too much to consider. Cal must stay healthy and hope that Gibson improves over the next few weeks.
The good news is Schwenke seems to be setting into his new job nicely, especially evident with his shotgun snaps, which were off in the spring as he learned the nuances of the position.
Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and covers the Pac-12 for Fox Sports/Scout.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.