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July 10, 2012

Answering your Cal football questions



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This week on the Bear Republic Podcast, we'll be answering many of the questions that you subscribers have posed to us. We won't get to all of them. However, there are a few questions that I've chosen to use as appetizers for Thursday's offering, and as a bit of a preview, I'll answer them here. For all the juicy insider recruiting info for both football and basketball, be sure to sign up for a premium subscription and tune in on Thursday.

[Pose your own questions in The Mailbag]

SeymoreBear asks: How is Brendan Bigelow coming along? Does it look like he is No. 3 solidly, or is it Daniel Lasco?

Answer: As for Bigelow's much-asked-about knee, reports are that he is doing very, very well. According to my source in the program, Bigelow is "making aggressive cuts, and he looks really good." At the moment, the top two tailbacks would be senior Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson, but behind the two of them, it's a question mark. That's not to say that the stable is bereft of talent. If anything, there's an overabundance of it. That's a great problem to have. Bigelow and Lasco are two very different backs. Bigelow is a Ferrari and Lasco is more of a muscle car. That gives Cal a lot of options. I'd have to say that, going into fall camp, the two of them are 3A and 3B. I think Lasco is the more punishing, durable of the two, but Bigelow has breakaway speed, if he's right physically. This will be one of the big position battles during camp, and it's one I'm excited to see.

SeymoreBear asks: Do you think the Lasc-elow 1-2 punch will be the best under Gould?

Answer: First off, props to the nickname. Given that the Bears have had Arrington-Lynch, Lynch-Forsett, Forsett-Best and Best-Vereen, that's a huge mountain to climb. Could they reach those lofty heights? I guess so, but I'd have to see Bigelow fully unleashed before I can answer that question. I'm very, very high on Lasco. Gun to my head, I'd say he comes out on top as the better all-around back, but you can't match the kind of dynamism Bigelow brings if he's truly healthy both mentally and physically.

I saw those other tandems in person, and they're going to be tough to beat. The pair I'd most closely compare them with (again, all based on potential) would be Best-Vereen. Bigelow has that top-end speed and some major shakes, and Lasco isn't just a one-note back. He's very fast, but also tough and durable. Vereen and Best had similar size and speed, but Vereen had a bit more between-the-tackles physicality. That's how I see this tandem shaping up, if all goes according to projections.

BlueBearGold asks: Is Keenan Allen running/cutting/etc. at 100 percent?

Answer: Yes. Allen is back and fully healthy. There's no question that he will be the top receiver on the team. The only question is how he stacks up nationally. It's way too early to predict where he goes in the NFL Draft, but I don't think I'm going out on a limb in saying that he'll be a first-round pick. Allen has been racking up the preseason honors, being named second-team (Athlon, Lindy's) and third-team (Phil Steele) All-America, a first-team preseason All-Pac-12 choice of Athlon, Lindy's and Phil Steele, Blue Ribbon first-team All-Pac-12, and named to the watch lists for both the Maxwell Award and the College Football Performance Offensive Award at wide receiver. Yes, the ankle injury that kept him out of spring ball was a breath-stealing moment for many, but he'll be a force both at receiver and punt returner.

icbear asks: I'm hearing that Zach Maynard is going to miss the first two games. Is Allan Bridgford going to be the guy?

Answer: Let me break this down into two parts. First: Is Maynard going to miss time? That's a closely-guarded state secret. I could get into a long, drawn-out explanation of just what the NCAA rule in question involves, but in short, I'll say this: He could miss four games, two games or no games, depending on what his academics have been in the spring and summer sessions. We won't likely know what's in store until midway through fall camp. I've heard conflicting reports on just how he did in the classroom in the spring, and we don't yet know how summer will shake out, so it's best not to speculate. However, I do know that the staff is hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Should Maynard wind up missing time, the starter will indeed be Bridgford.

Now, for the second part. In my opinion, Bridgford has been two different quarterbacks depending on whether he's in practice or in a game situation. He was more mobile, made better decisions and commanded the offense well up on Witter Rugby Field. He showed some good things during the spring game, but those flashes were out-weighed by the negatives. Last season, in games, Bridgford was 13-for-32 for 184 yards with no TDs and no picks. Not horrible, but surely nothing to write home about. In the spring game, Bridgford was 11-for-20 for 90 yards and an interception. The fact is, his motion is still overly long and given the fact that Cal lost two senior offensive linemen -- including Mitchell Schwartz -- he may not have enough time to go through that wind-up with Pac-12 defenses coming hard at him. The X-factor here is Zach Kline.

The true freshman has about 80 percent of the playbook down, but is still stressing over the other 20 percent, which is a good thing. He wants to be perfect and ready to go should his name be called. If Maynard doesn't play early, and Bridgford struggles mightily or gets injured, Kline is the man. The key is, that has to happen before the seventh game. If it's after the seventh game, the staff won't pull his redshirt. He is the No. 3, and will travel with the team, as things currently stand.

On another note, Kline and his band -- The 5-0 -- are playing a gig on July 23 at Vitus in Oakland, near Jack London Square, at 7 PM. So, if you want to hear how the Bears' future signal-caller gets down on the mic and on the guitar, check them out.


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