Three of the four linebacker spots are open around inside backer Mike Mohamed, and any one of a number of players are fighting for those spots. That competition will continue into the fall.
Finding a new starting fullback and backups at wide receiver and tailback are also significant issues, but not as significant as the concerns at defensive back.
Safety Sean Cattouse needs to act as the anchor for a secondary, which is the key to the defense but which also has serious questions at both cornerback spots.
Quote To Note: “Something needs to happen. I need to play better for us to win games. (Coach Jeff Tedford) is just giving the other guys an opportunity if I don’t step up. It definitely keeps me motivated.”—QB Kevin Riley, to the Contra Costa Times, about understanding why he has to win his job again despite starting all 13 games in 2009.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
RB Trajuan Briggs—A freshman who enrolled at Cal during the winter, Briggs de-committed from USC late in the recruiting process before signing with Cal. The Bears like to use two tailbacks and the competition for the second running back behind Shane Vereen is wide open. Some say Briggs reminds them of Marshawn Lynch, but Briggs is not as big as Lynch yet.
Coach - Ron Gould
Trajuan Briggs (Fr., TB), Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson (Jr., TB), Nico Dumont (RFr., FB), Will Kapp (Jr., FB), Isi Sofele (So., TB), Eric Stevens (So., FB), John Tyndall (Jr., FB), Shane Vereen (Jr., TB), Dasarte Yarnway (RFr., TB), Langston Jackson
The Bears lost both of their 2009 backfield starters with the departures of TB Jahvid Best and FB Brian Holley but are confident they can replace the productive duo. Best started 19 of the 31 contests he competed in during three seasons at Cal. He earned a second-team All-American selection by College Football News and the second of his two first-team All-Pac-10 honors as a 2008 sophomore when he rushed for 1,580 yards (No. 2 on Cal's single-season list) and a school-record-tying 15 rushing touchdowns. He finished his career ranked tied for third on Cal's all-time list for rushing TDs (29), as well as tied for fourth in total TDs (39) and seventh in rushing yards (2,668).
Shane Vereen, who started the final four games last season after Best suffered a season-ending injury against Oregon State on Nov. 7, is most likely his heir apparent at tailback. Vereen earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors last season despite coming off the bench to spell Best for most of the season's first nine games. He finished as the team's leading rusher with 952 yards on 183 carries (5.2 ypr) and equaled Best's 12 rushing touchdowns. Vereen had a career day to lead the Bears to a Big Game win at Stanford, carrying the ball 42 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 566 yards on 108 carries after taking as the team's starter.
Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson (31 rushes, 226 yards, 1 TD) and Isi Sofele (12 rushes, 82 yards, 1 TD) saw limited action in 2009 but are expected to compete for a spot alongside Vereen for a Cal rushing attack that has traditionally shared the bulk of the workload between two tailbacks. Trajuan Briggs, Langston Jackson and Dasarte Yarnway are the team's other tailbacks this spring and should get a good look with one of Tedford's primary spring goals developing a complimentary player to Vereen. Both Briggs and Yarnway missed their respective 2009 seasons with injuries, with the early enrollee Briggs going down with an ankle injury in an early season prep game and Yarnway suffering a knee injury during training camp of his true freshmen season.
The leagues only allow two same-college players per team, and the usually high-scoring games feature very little defense, Wilson said.