With added success comes added expectations and every year seems to get bigger and bigger for the Cal football program. Specifically regarding the upcoming 2009 season, which some are predicting to be a banner year for the Bears, the campaign continues in the coming weeks with the kick off of the summer workout schedule. While the majority of questions surrounding the team won't fully get settled until the tail end of Fall Camp in August, the summer will give strong hints to what some of the answers to those questions might be.
As BearTerritory chronicled last year during this time, the summer period – despite a lack of media coverage – is often very competitive, important and spirited for all collegiate athletic programs, especially football squads. Our videos of the exciting 1-on-1's from last summer along with our various photo features highlighted some of the action up at Memorial Stadium last summer.
BearTerritory will once again be in attendance this summer and will attempt to bring as much public coverage as possible to the table.
Here are three major topics surrounding the Cal team that will unquestionably begin to get ironed out in the coming weeks;
KEEP IT IN THE AIR
Obviously the number one issue surrounding the squad right now, the passing game is crucial in the advancement and success of the team this upcoming season. Fans see it as the big unknown, the coaching staff admits it to be true and the players agree. A good passing game will go a long way this season.
After his performance in Spring Ball, junior Kevin Riley retained his top spot under center. While it's likely that Riley will indeed be under center come the season opener against Maryland, a summer of hard work and drills for all three quarterbacks will go a long way once Fall Camp begins in August.
And while Riley is the No. 1 guy for now, that doesn't necessarily mean backups Brock Mansion or Beau Sweeney aren't talented enough to make a push for the starting gig. Both of them showed flashes of playmaking ability during Spring Ball and this summer is very important for both of them to continue building an on-the-field relationship with the receiving corps.
When BearTerritory spoke to a member of the receiving unit right after Spring Ball, the athlete stated that there would be a different focus this summer when it came to what the quarterbacks and wide receivers were going to work on. The player stated that there will be more of an effort and emphasis put on running correct routes and timing between pitcher and catcher and less time put on 1-on-1's.
With a year of experience now under the belts of athletes such as Nyan Boateng, Jeremy Ross and Verran Tucker, along with the emergence of Marvin Jones and Alex Lagemann plus the return of Mike Calvin, it'll be very interesting to see how much progression is made this summer before Fall Camp kicks off in early August.
ALL ABOUT JAHVID
There's no physical contact in the summer workouts but that doesn't mean eyes will still be laid on the health of Cal's All-American dynamo.
Jahvid Best comes into the season as true Heisman trophy candidate but that will only happen if he stays healthy and if the Bears go on to have a monster season on the field.
Best and head coach Jeff Tedford have stated on numerous occasions this off-season that Best is healthy and ready to go. The first test to see if that is really true comes this summer.
Here are some links around the country focusing on Cal's most explosive playmaker;
The first time BearTerritory got a sense of the talent Mychal Kendricks brought to the table came this time last season. Kendricks was one of a handful of linebackers the Bears signed in the 2008 recruiting class but he clearly jumped straight to the top of the list right away.
After the first week of workouts were over, former linebacker Zack Follett and others were touting Kendricks as the next great 'backer from Cal. The Bears signed another highly touted class this past season and the question now becomes who is the next Mychal Kendricks?
There are a small handful of athletes that Tedford stated could play right away and the majority of them will be on display this summer.
Specifically, an athlete like Isi Sofele -- who Tedford pointed out as a possible return guy this season – is one to watch.
Sofele is about as dynamic of an offensive threat as a high school athlete can be when looking at his film and his skills seem tailor-made for open field running.
Another athlete anxious to get started is San Francisco (Calif.) Sacred Heart Cathedral standout Dasarte Yarnway. One of the more mature and motivated young men we have ever run across in our years of covering recruiting, Yarnway will join the Cal team up at Memorial Stadium very soon.
"I spoke with Coach Gould, and basically, Coach Tedford and him strongly suggested to me that I get a jump on things, and do the early workouts with the team," he said. "They start (this) week, but I'd start the week after that if I do it."
"I want to," the 4-star running back added. "I've been working out hard since January and I feel like I'm ready. So I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it."
As fans know, the Bears have had some trouble in goal-line and short yardage situations over the past few seasons. While it is a strong possibility Yarnway will redshirt this season, his physical running style and strength between the tackles could be something to keep an eye out on during Fall Camp.
Some extra news and notes from around the country;
This is what the most experienced offensive lineman on the Cal roster had to say about new position coach Steve Marshall when we asked:
-- "Coach Michalczik and Coach Marshall are very similar in their coaching habits," said Mike Tepper. "We run the same stuff. But, the way he coaches he's a little more vocal. But he's hilarious. I sit in meetings with the largest smile on my face and he just looks at me and I can see him saying to himself 'what the hell is Tepper smiling about?' I enjoy listening to him coach. I know he just came from the Browns and he's a professional coach."
Jonathan Okanes of the CC TIMES breaks the news that the entire Cal squad will be on a bus riding to the Rose Bowl next season.
In case you missed it No. 1: Head coach Jeff Tedford on Chronicle Live last month.
In case you missed it No. 2: A well-done behind the scenes piece on Alex Mack before Draft Day.
Chris Nguon is the lead football writer for BearTerritory. He's well known for his recruiting and game coverage in the star-studded Oakland Athletic League, plus his numerous contributions with The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley's only independent, student-run newspaper. Nguon is also a correspondent with the Oakland Tribune, and will cover Cal football and men's and women's basketball in 2009.