BERKELEY, Calif. -- Sonny Dykes' California Golden Bears boasted a prolific passing attack with offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and quarterback Jared Goff in 2015. But after both left Berkeley following the season, Dykes needed to start from scratch at both spots.
What seemed to be an inevitable rebuilding year is suddenly filled with promise after a couple of puzzle pieces fell into perfectly synchronized position this offseason.
Jake Spavital shipped over from Texas A&M to join Dykes as his new offensive coordinator. A few months later, quarterback Davis Webb followed suit, coming to Cal by way of a transfer from Texas Tech. Suddenly, the coach-coordinator-quarterback triumvirate atop the Bear Raid was replenished with three veterans from similar system backgrounds -- all originally from the Lone Star State and all now in Berkeley, which can come with some culture shock.
"I think I've gone from the most conservative city in the country to the most liberal city in the country," Webb quipped of his move from Lubbock.
Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that the Texas trio gets along so swimmingly so far away from home.
"It's been as good of a transition as I've ever been around in 20-plus years of coaching," Dykes said.
Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury is the common thread between them. Webb recently played under him for three seasons in a Red Raiders uniform, throwing for 5,557 yards; Spavital was a graduate assistant at Houston in 2009, working under Kingsbury, an offensive assistant for the Cougars at the time; Dykes was the wide receivers coach at Texas Tech (2000-02) while Kingsbury played quarterback there.
Kingsbury also played under Dykes' father -- Spike Dykes -- at Texas Tech in 1998 and 1999, while Webb was with the Red Raiders at the same time that Spavital's brother, Zac, was on staff there last year.
"We all speak the same language," Dykes said. "We all believe in the same tenets of moving the football. And when you have the same background of beliefs, it makes the transition really simple and easy."
Webb, like both Dykes and Spavital, is the son of a coach, another commonality that's fueled the trio's working relationship in Berkeley.
"When you grow up as a coach's kid, you pay attention to detail," Spavital said.
For Webb, that focus began when he was 6 years old, watching college football on television while scrambling to jot down plays that he liked on note cards.
"I would run to my dad's office, throw down 16 cards, and say, 'We need to run these plays this week,'" Webb said. "So it's part of me now. I always have at least 10 index cards with me every time I watch college football games on Saturdays."
It happened to be Webb's father, Matt, a high school coach in Texas, who got the ball rolling on his son's transfer to Cal. When the Bears were in Fort Worth for the Armed Forces Bowl last December, Matt Webb visited one of the team's practices at a local high school and thought that Davis -- who was planning to transfer away from Texas Tech -- would be a good fit with Dykes.
Spavital came to Cal just over a month later, and Webb enrolled in May after initially committing to Colorado.
"I think hiring Jake was a big part of getting Davis here," Dykes said.
The unification of like minds, all schooled in the Air Raid philosophy, has the Bears working to hammer out the nuances of a fresh offensive approach that will incorporate variations from each of the three main influencers' previous stops.
"Jake's done a fantastic job accommodating some of the things that Davis is really comfortable with, some of the things they did at Texas Tech that he had good success with," Dykes said. "There are things that [Spavital] has done differently, things that Davis has done differently, and things that I've done differently, so what we've done is put them all together."
Webb has been particularly pleased with Spavital's ability to tailor the offense to Cal's new-look receiving corps, which features potentially electric talent in the slot with 5-foot-9 freshman target Melquise Stovall.
"Great coaches always play to the strengths of their players, and that's exactly what Spav is doing a fantastic job of," Webb said.
Dykes says the Bears have also made tweaks to their running game and protection schemes, all changes designed to capitalize on what projects to be a deep, talented Cal offensive line.
But the Bears are most thrilled with the quarterback stability that Webb has brought so quickly in the post-Goff era. This is an offense that's expected to score proficiently again.
"He kept his mouth shut and made a huge impression on his teammates with his work ethic," Spavital said.
Now, Webb has earned the respect necessary to communicate the staff's plan to Cal's offense, and the Bears -- with three Texas veterans leading the charge in Berkeley, of all places -- are in a situation that no one could have envisioned just a few months ago.