2005 RECORD: 8-4 (4-4 in Pac-10) RETURNING STARTERS: 18
LB Desmond Bishop (Sr.)
Juco transfer led team in tackles last season
CB Daymeion Hughes (Sr.)
Exceptional cover skills and a more-than-willing hitter
WR DeSean Jackson (Soph.)
Had 38 catches for 601 yards and seven touchdowns
Big Man on Campus
Replicas of the number 10 jersey worn by Marshawn Lynch are becoming increasingly popular on the Berkeley campus. By season's end they just might be in national distribution. Lynch is a breakaway back who averaged 7.0 yards per carry over his first two seasons and should improve on the 1,246 yards he gained in 10 games last year. That could send Cal to a major bowl and Lynch to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.
To overtake their rival to the south, the Golden Bears must solve their quarterback quandary
Since 2002 Cal has been closing in on USC at the top of the Pac-10, so matching the Trojans in any way would seem like a step in the right direction. But if there's one similarity that the Golden Bears would rather not have, it's a quarterback position that's as unsettled as USC's.
The three Cal QBs who took snaps last season are back. The likely starter is sophomore Nate Longshore, who won the job in '05 but broke his left leg in the opener, ending his season. Joe Ayoob, a junior college transfer, took over before his erratic play forced coach Jeff Tedford to turn to Steve Levy for the last two games, a 27-3 win over Stanford and a 35-28 victory over BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. But Levy's chances of keeping the job dimmed in June when he was charged with felony assault in connection with a fight outside a bar. He was suspended for the Sept. 2 opener at Tennessee. (After pleading no contest to a misdemeanor, he was sentenced to three years' probation.)
The 6'5", 233-pound Longshore is a classic dropback passer who has the arm strength to take advantage of fleet receivers DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan. Although his leg is fully healed, Longshore is still not nimble, which might make him a less than ideal QB to guide the spread offense that new offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar will use. Dunbar, who came over from Northwestern, doesn't envision any problems. "People have a misconception that in the spread your quarterback has to run all over the place," he says. "It's not like we're going to ask him to run like a tailback. Nate has all the attributes and talent to be successful in this offense."
Longshore may not be called on to use his legs much, but he has to hit the ground running. With a tough road opener and two seniors waiting in the wings, he'll be under pressure to prove himself in a hurry. "I'll be ready," he says. If Cal hopes to close the gap on USC, he'd better be. -- Phil Taylor