A recap of what we learned about Cal as it heads into its second season under coach Sonny Dykes.
Three things we learned in the spring:
1. Staying healthy. Without question the biggest contributing factor in Cal’s 2013 disaster was the relentless rash of injuries that left an already young team without a puncher’s chance. This was such a problem that just the fact that Cal survived spring practice without any significant injuries was arguably its most important accomplishment.
2. Depth at receiver. Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs and Kenny Lawler figure to make a dangerous trio of receivers for the Golden Bears, but there is depth in the receiving corps beyond them. Trevor Davis, a transfer from Hawaii, is expected to make an immediate impact on the outside, along with Maurice Harris. Treggs spent the spring learning the inside position and will present a more versatile option this season.
3. Jared Goff ready to take next step. With no one to seriously challenge Goff for playing time -- Zach Kline is headed to Butte College -- he has settled into more of a leadership role. The rising sophomore has all the talent to eventually be among the conference’s best quarterbacks, but that could be dependent on the offensive line and running game.
Three questions for the fall:
1. Can they run the ball? Getting an accurate gauge of how improved the run game is won’t be an easy task until the season begins. Khalfani Muhammad, the team’s leading rusher from a season ago (74 carries, 445 yards), split his time between football and track during spring and will see competition from a pair of incoming freshmen -- Tre Watson and Vic Enwere.
2. Will the Bears stay healthy? If they don’t, there won’t be much reason for optimism. Cal isn’t in a place where it will have much success in the conference with less than its full compliment of weapons. The Bears have a lot of talented players, but their depth is lacking compared to others in what should be a loaded Pac-12 in 2014.
3. What is considered success? After going 0-for-FBS last season, it’s fair to say a four-win season should be looked at as a considerable improvement. The nonconference schedule includes a trip to Northwestern, home games with BYU and Sacramento State, and they miss Utah and Arizona State during conference play.
One way-too-early prediction:
Goff will finish in the top five in the county in passing yards. He has the receivers, is in the right system and has the talent. If this happens, there’s still the potential he finishes No. 3 in the conference behind Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Washington State’s Connor Halliday, who finished No. 2 and No. 3 in the country last season.