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The Figgis Forum: California

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NCAA Football: Washington at California Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the third edition of The Figgis Forum. We’re wrapping up the first week of fall camp and are inching closer to the opening kickoff. Praise be to Marcus! While the football team steps onto the practice fields for another day of cracking shells, we are stepping through Sather Gate on the campus of UC Berkeley. Whether you’re heading into Memorial Coliseum or saving your dough on Tightwad Hill, come along for the ride as we see how our friends at ATQ South California Golden Blogs feel about the upcoming season.

California

Fast Facts:

All-Time Record: 658-528-51 (.553%)

National Championships: 4

Conference Championships: 14

Bowl Games: 22

Bowl Record: 11-10-1 (.523%)

Consensus All-Americans: 28

Heismans: 0

NFL Draft Picks: 235

1st Round Draft Picks: 27

Weeks in AP Poll: 197

Weeks at #1: 4

Vs Oregon:

All-Time Record: 41-37-2

Longest Win Streak: 8 Games (1974-1982)

Longest Losing Streak: 7 Games (1994-2003)

Largest Margin of Victory: 39-0 (1921)

Largest Margin of Defeat: 17-59 (2012)

Last Meeting: 2016 (W 52-49)

Overview

Looking at Cal’s history, there have been some good stretches and some very bad ones. From the inception of the program until 1939, the Bears regularly won over 80% of their games. Then from 1939 until 1967, Cal would endure roughly eight year streaks of losing and then winning and then losing again. Over the next two decades they logged nine winning seasons, eight losing seasons and three at an even 0.500.

Enter Bruce Snyder, the former Oregon fullback who had spent the past few seasons as an assistant with the LA Rams. After Joe Kapp left the program off with a 2-9 record in 1986, Snyder gradually improved by going 3-6-2, 5-5-1 and 4-7 in his first three years. His next two seasons drastically improved as the Bears went 7-6-1 in 1990 and 10-2 in 1991, marking the first ten-win season in 42 years. Snyder was then hired to take over Arizona State where he became the second winningest coach in program history. Meanwhile, Cal would record just one winning season over the next ten years until Jeff Tedford arrived in 2002.

Tedford was able to revitalize the program and find instant success, going 43-20, including two ten-win seasons, in his first five years as the head coach. He would then average eight wins over the next three years before recording a 5-7, 7-6 and a 3-9 record that led to his dismissal after the 2012 season. New coach Sonny Dykes got off to a rough start in 2013 by going 1-11, but improved to 5-7 and 8-5 in the following two seasons before falling back below 0.500 last year and being dismissed just weeks before National Signing Day.

Since 1992, Cal has amassed a record of 139 wins and 225 losses. In the past ten years, they have gone 58-67. This program is hurting for a coach to be able to maintain success in Berkeley and the 2017 season is going to be an uphill battle. With a myriad of depth concerns, a defense that was almost as bad as Oregon’s last year and an entirely new coaching staff, albeit a seemingly good one, expectations are fairly low for this season.

Fan Q & A

For the following section, I would like to thank Leland from ATQ South CGB for taking the time to answer my questions and give his perspective on the upcoming season.

What win total would constitute a successful season? What bowl game?

We're (somehow still) in a rebuilding year and we have one of the toughest schedules in the nation, so I would consider four or five wins to be a success. I would be ecstatic with any bowl, no matter how low-tier. I'd even wager some of our fans would call it good progress if we make it into a bowl academically after a five-win season.

What win total would constitute a failed season? What bowl game?

If we can only beat one team--FCS's Weber State-- then I would start to worry a bit about our future with Coach Wilcox.

What are you most optimistic about this coming season?

We're optimistic about seeing the whole coaching staff come together. Between the performances of offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin at EWU and the track records of Coach Wilcox and defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, there's a lot of great potential and we're excited to see if they can deliver.

What are you most apprehensive about this season?

Is "everything" an appropriate answer here? We're breaking in new coaches (including a first-time head coach), switching defensive schemes using defensive players who were already struggling, and starting a new quarterback. It's literally a shorter list for me to enumerate what I'm not apprehensive of. (The offense.)

What do you expect to be the toughest game?

We've got a road game up north to your most hated uber-rivals on October 7. They're returning plenty of talent and Chris Petersen knows what he's doing. I can't dread that game enough.

What could be a potential trap game?

I'm not sure many games even qualify as traps because I don't think the Bears will be favored significantly against many opponents next year. We do have a home game against Arizona, who I think will perhaps struggle more than Cal this year. The Bears will have to maintain focus for a bit of a long week heading into this game (because the preceding game will come on a Friday) and Cal can't start looking ahead to a trip to Buffalo the next week.

Are there any injury or depth concerns heading into the season?

Moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense, the whole front seven has potential for depth issues as some of our players are being asked to perform in different roles and in a different scheme. Because of that transition--and because of the position's importance to eat up blocks--I'm concerned about our depth at nose guard. On the other side of the ball--while I'd hate to beat a dead horse--we're executing another change in systems, so the re-introduction of tight end is another candidate; however, I'm a little more confident here since our old staff converted tight ends to receivers (who will be converting back to tight end).

Who do you think will win each division?

Ugh. For the North, this question sucks for CGB and for CGB North as it'll be either one of our archrivals. If I had to put money, I'd bet on it being your rivals and then feel dirty for thinking something good about them. I hate to just keep sticking with the obvious preseason pick for the South too, but I just can't put anyone past USC. They have a never-ending supply of elite talent (including Sam Darnold) and Coach Helton seems legit.

Who will come in last in each division?

In the South, this will come down to the state of Arizona. I have a little more confidence in RichRod as a coach, but less confidence in the Wildcat players than their Tempe counterparts... Let's go with the Sun Devils here. As for the North, I think it will be either Oregon State or... Cal. Please don't make me pick Cal. I like the coaching staff in the long run, but this year just looks tough for us. Let's just hope that for the Beavers, the problems perpetually plaguing their primary passer will hold them back enough for Cal to stay out of the Northern basement.

How do you think your in-state rival will finish?

Happier than us. Gross.