Pac-12: California Golden Bears

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
9:00
AM ET
video
It's the final weekend for official visits before signing day on Wednesday, Feb. 4, and Pac-12 programs are looking to make that final in-person push as they close in on finishing out their classes. We take a look at the top three visit weekends in the conference.

Pac-12 morning links

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
9:00
AM ET
Happy Friday.

Leading off:

Money, money, money, money .... Mon-ayyyyyy.

Yep, that's right. We're starting off Friday with conversations about dollars. It's one of the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table, which means we'll absolutely discuss it on the Pac-12 Blog.

On Thursday, John Wilner looked into the salaries of each Pac-12 coach and compared the South coaches against the North coaches and came to a very interesting conclusion -- the South coaches are paid, on average, much better. He calculated that the North coaches' salaries came out to $13.95 million while the South coaches' salaries came out to $16.85 million.
One factor clearly is the artificially low compensation for two North coaches who were promoted from within. Mark Helfrich isn’t paid like a national finalists -- he’s a screamin’ deal -- and David Shaw would command more on the open market than he’s currently making with two of the past three league titles.

Then add Riley’s relatively low compensation, the result of being in one place for so many years, and the situation starts to make sense.

It's an interesting piece that's definitely worth your time. Note: The Stanford and USC dollar figures used are estimates, just keep that in mind.

Notes/team reports/recruiting updates:

Two-star Scoobs: California

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
2:00
PM ET
We all know that recruiting is an inexact science, and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III proves the point, as Wright's Twitter handle -- TwoStarScoob -- highlighted while the sophomore became a unanimous All-American and the nation's most decorated defensive player, winning the Lombardi, Nagurski and Bednarik awards.

That is the focus of this series. We'll run through each Pac-12 team and highlight a player who was low on star ratings when he arrived on campus but became a critical part of the team.

Up next: California.

Two-star Scoob: safety Griffin Piatt

Recruiting ratings: ESPN.com: no stars; Scout.com: no stars; Rivals.com: no stars.

Recruiting analysis: It’s almost as though Piatt didn’t exist as a recruit. Due to how available technology is today everyone, even the benchwarmers, can make and distribute highlight reels (and get 1 million views, too). But Piatt? He doesn’t even have any highlights on his football hudl page (though, he does have one video on his basketball page). He's not listed in any databases.

On campus? Piatt tried out for the Cal football team, walking on as a wide receiver. When Sonny Dykes got to Berkeley he decided that the Golden Bears had too many receivers, so he moved Piatt over to safety. Coming into this season the only notes listed on Piatt’s Cal bio page were his jersey number changes. Now? There's a bit more. The sophomore finished the season with a team-highs in interceptions (3), pass breakups (6) and passes defended (9). Piatt ended with 40 total tackles -- eighth-best on the team -- and is one of the few imposing members of the Cal secondary.

Pac-12 morning links

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
9:00
AM ET
So, Peter, you've become a pirate.

Leading off:

Super Bowl media day has come and gone. With it there were a few notable appearances and quotes by some former Pac-12 players (there are 18 former conference players and five former conference coaches between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots). Notes/team updates/recruiting nuggets:
Just for fun:

On Tuesday, Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici and safety Jordan Simone attended Super Bowl media day to add to some of azcentral.com's coverage of the event. We'll have a story later on today with Bercovici's thoughts on the day and his advice to other reporters (now that he has such a deep understanding of the profession), but as a preview to some of the in-depth and exclusive content you'll get from the Bercovici-Simone media team, check out this tweet:



We're sure it was enlightening. Someone get this man a Pulitzer.
On Monday we started the final Pac-12 Quarterback Power Ranking of the season, one that takes a look at the entire body of work accrued throughout the full season. For some guys, this means looking at 12 games, for others it means looking at 15, but we broke down what exactly that player meant to his team and how impressive he was overall -- not just in a single performance.

So with that we bring you our No. 4 spot in the ranking.

No. 4: Cal sophomore Jared Goff

Statistics: 316-of-509 (62.1 percent), 3,973 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions

Why he's here: If we had a countdown of the most improved quarterbacks in the Pac-12, there'd be little argument Goff would be No. 1. But as far as this season's final power ranking, he still sits behind a few guys.

Goff finished the year with the fourth-highest adjusted QBR in the Pac-12 (77.4) and the fourth-highest passer efficiency rating (147.6). His third-down passing percentage was third-best in the Pac-12 (43.1 percent) and his 331 passing yards per game was also third-best in the league behind fellow Air Raid signal callers Luke Falk and Connor Halliday.

Of all the quarterbacks on this list, it's no secret that Goff was likely surrounded with the fewest number of playmakers. His completion percentage of 62.1 percent was in the lower ranks of the Pac-12 but his 7.81 yards per pass attempt this season was fifth-best in the league and really within striking distance of Kessler, Brett Hundley and Kevin Hogan's numbers. If he had the likes of Marcus Mariota's or Cody Kessler's arsenal, he likely would've been higher on this list. But what he was able to do with fewer proven weapons really speaks to his abilities as a quarterback.

After seeing the strides Goff made between his freshman and sophomores season, it'll be really interesting to watch what happens next year. Looking around the conference at other three-year starters, there have been some major improvements between their second and third years at the helm of their respective offenses. Mariota passed for about 800 more yards and had more than half a yard more per attempt between his redshirt sophomore and redshirt junior seasons. Hogan's completion percentage went from 61 to 65.9 between his second and third years. Kessler improved his completion percentage by 4.3 percent while throwing for 19 more touchdowns as a junior than a sophomore.

That said, most of those guys have left early for the NFL and Goff is going to be battling for that top spot in next year's quarterback ranking. If he makes a similar jump, it'll be hard to see him as anything other than the conference's best.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
10:00
AM ET
video
It was a busy weekend in the conference, as 14 prospects made commitments between Friday and Monday night and several others backed out of Pac-12 recruiting classes. It looks as though this could be a sign of things to come, as the conference recruiting race is heating up with little more than a week until signing day.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Pac-12 recruiting class breakdowns

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
4:30
PM ET

Here's a look at how programs in the Pac-12 are faring on the recruiting trail heading into national signing day on Feb. 4.

Arizona

Commitments: 28

ESPN 300 commitments: 1

Who they have: The Wildcats hit it big with their top two commitments in ESPN 300 offensive tackle Keenan Walker and ESPN JC 50 defensive tackle Anthony Fotu. Arizona also will add four-star tackle Cody Creason, three-star tackle Harper Sherman and three-star guards Alex Kosinski and Nathan Eldrige to the offensive line. There are a number of skill players on both sides of the ball, including running backs Orlando Bradford and Darick Holmes Jr., cornerbacks Shun Brown, Anthony Mariscal, Samuel Morrison and Dane Cruikshank, wide receiver Cedric Peterson and athletes Antonio Parks and Brion Anduze.

Who they want: There aren't many spots left in this class for the Wildcats, but there are a few important names left on the board. The wide receiver spot could see another addition with Jaylinn Hawkins, though rival Arizona State will put up a fight there. Arizona also will look to continue its run of success in Louisiana, as teammates Arthur McGinnis and Darrell Clark (New Orleans/Warren Easton) are two of the top prospects left for the Wildcats, as well as teammates of Arizona commit Kendal Franklin.



To read the rest of our Pac-12 recruiting class breakdowns, click here Insider.
Cal's offense surged forward in 2014, but the Bears' defense continued to languish. That ultimately kept Sonny Dykes from attaining bowl eligibility in his second year at the helm in Berkeley. Here's an evaluation of a particular need for improvement if the Bears are to take that next step in 2015.

Position to improve: Defensive back.

Why it was a problem: The Bears again allowed more points than any other Pac-12 team, yet their rush defense finished fourth in the conference. That means one thing: Cal's pass defense was bad. Really bad. In fact, the Bears finished in the league cellar in that regard, giving up 367.2 passing yards per game. For perspective, no other Pac-12 team surrendered more than 300 yards per game. Cal has struggled to stay healthy in the defensive backfield recently, and 2014 was no exception. The Bears were generally young there to begin with, so the problem only worsened when players started dropping.

How it can be fixed: Staying healthy is obviously a priority moving forward. Experience should also help, as 2014 opening day starters at cornerback were young and green: Cameron Walker was a sophomore (he was forced into some action at safety because of injury issues, which further thinned the Bears' cornerback position) and Darius Allensworth was a redshirt freshman (Cedric Dozier, who also played a lot, was a redshirt sophomore). Cal must overcome the graduation of safety Michael Lowe -- arguably the defense's best player -- but the Bears are set for an influx of promising junior college talent in the secondary, so that's a potential Band-Aid that may be able to at least slow the current bleeding.

Early 2015 outlook: The aforementioned incoming junior college talent comes in the form of Antoine Albert and Derron Brown. Both are touted, versatile prospects, but Brown is heavier and looks to be better fit to play safety. The Bears also flipped the original Duke commitment of Depriest Turner in December, and he's also a strong candidate to see time at safety in Berkeley. In fact, Turner has been quoted as saying "I don't plan on going all the way from Alabama to California to sit on the bench." That's the type of hunger the Bears need to right the ship in their secondary.

Pac-12 morning links

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
9:00
AM ET
And in the morning, I'm making' waffles.

Leading off:

The 2015 Senior Bowl has come and gone, and there were plenty of great showings from Pac-12 players. Here's a brief compilation of some of the content you can find regarding the event:
  • CBSSports' Senior Bowl stock report of 10 players who looked good -- one Beaver shows up on this list and it's not the one you're thinking of ...
  • FOX Sports made a list of guys who helped their NFL draft stock the most. On this listing you've got a Husky and a Ute (these are probably the ones you're thinking of).
  • Sports Illustrated had some similar praise to that of FOX Sports. SI's Chris Burke writes that "[Danny] Shelton's showing for the North team solidified his status as a likely first-round pick."
  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution put together a photo gallery of the weekend.
  • Former Wazzu receiver Vince Mayle does a video interview for the Senior Bowl.
  • Former UCLA defensive lineman Owamagbe Odighizuwa also did a video interview at the Senior Bowl.
  • Catching up with Sean Mannion following the Senior Bowl.
  • Henry Anderson wrote six "diary" entries from AL.com during Senior Bowl week. You can check all of them out right here.
  • Nate Orchard picked up some MOP honors at the Senior Bowl.
News/notes/team reports:
Just for fun:

There was some #Pac12Trolling happening Sunday as former Arizona State defensive lineman Will Sutton decided to comment on Taylor Kelly and Jaelen Strong's autograph session. Always nice to see a few (fun) shots taken between teammates when it comes to this kind of stuff.

.

Also, if anyone has a chance, check out Sutton's photo at the top of his Twitter page. It's pretty fantastic. Especially if you're a fan of The Lion King ...

Best of the visits: Pac-12

January, 25, 2015
Jan 25
2:53
PM ET
It was another big weekend for visits in the Pac-12, as programs are looking to line up strong finishes in the run up to signing day on Feb. 4.

Bruins looking to close with Clark

UCLA and Michigan are in a neck-and-neck battle for ESPN 300 tight end Chris Clark. And after visiting the Wolverines two weekends ago, Clark was in Los Angeles this weekend.


The Bruins also received some help from former UCLA and current Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis.


Clark would be a significant addition for either program, and the Bruins are hoping they can sway him into becoming the lone true tight end on the roster and a potential immediate-impact player.

UCLA also hosted LSU offensive line commit Maea Teuhema. The nation's No. 71 overall prospect has been committed to the Tigers since February, but the Bruins are looking to make the nation's No. 2 offensive guard part of their strong finish in the state of Texas.


And although not from Texas -- but close enough -- ESPN 300 offensive guard Josh Wariboko could also be part of a massive closing stretch for UCLA. The No. 105 overall prospect was in Los Angeles for the B2G West Coast Bowl over the weekend and had an opportunity to spend time with UCLA commits Colin Samuel and Bolu Olorunfunmi.

Sun Devils host two standouts

Arizona State hosted ESPN 300 defenders Rasheem Green and Porter Gustin this weekend, and the Sun Devils look to be in competition with USC for both prospects.


While Arizona State hasn't been discussed much in terms of top classes during this recruiting cycle, Todd Graham's program has an opportunity to close in a big way with some impact prospects still on the board. And speaking of impact, Green had an opportunity during his visit to meet an NFL superstar who can make an impact with any recruit (regardless of the typo in his last name).

Oregon State's big weekend

The new Oregon State coaches hit the ground running when they took over the program after Mike Riley took much of his staff with him to Nebraska. Gary Andersen's staff has reshaped much of the recruiting class and added a big one recently when they were able to flip defensive end Keivonnis Davis from his Syracuse commitment. Davis was on his official visit this weekend and took some time to get to know the Oregon State mascot.


Oregon State is also in on fellow defensive end Simi Moala, who holds offers from Miami, Utah and Washington State. At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Moala is an intriguing prospect along the defensive line.

Cal hopes to catch another

The Golden Bears have done well at the wide receiver spot in this class, but head coach Sonny Dykes obviously feels there can't be enough talent at that position on his roster. High three-star Texas receiver A.D. Miller took an official visit to Cal over the weekend and had a simple question for Golden Bears fans.

Utes host commit

Part of Oregon State's recent run on the recruiting trail has come at the expense of Utah, as former Ute assistant coaches made their way to Corvallis and were able to flip two commitments in the process. But Utah still holds a strong class, especially with the recent flip of former Cal commit Johnny Capra. The offensive tackle makes four nice additions at that position for the Utes, including three-star Arizona prospect Nick Carman, who took his official visit to Utah over the weekend.

Season review: California

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
7:00
PM ET
Our 2014 season Pac-12 team-by-team grades continue. If you want to check out last season's reviews, click here.

California Golden Bears

[+] EnlargeGoff
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesJared Goff's production and efficiency improved dramatically in 2014, but he needs more help from the Cal defense.
Offense: The second year of the Sonny Dykes era also marked Jared Goff's second year under center, and Cal showed an immense amount of offensive improvement. Whereas 2013 was an uphill battle littered with growing pains (the Bears averaged only 23 points per game), 2014 saw a 40 percent increase in scoring production. The Bears averaged 38.3 points points per contest, a testament to Goff's rapid development. His touchdown-to-interception ratio enjoyed a marked upward shift from under 2:1 to 5:1 (35 touchdowns, seven picks). Cal's running game established a foothold behind Daniel Lasco's 1,115-yard season (5.3 yards per carry, 14 touchdowns). That supplied a potent balance from a deep, talented receiving corps: Kenny Lawler, Stephen Anderson, Chris Harper, and Bryce Treggs all caught at least 50 passes and racked up at least 550 yards receiving.

The attack hasn't attained perfection yet -- it gave up 27 sacks, after all -- but there's no question that it's the strong link of this Cal program, and that it's on the right track. Grade: A-

Defense: After an absolutely horrendous injury-plagued 2013, Cal's defense had nowhere to go but up. They improved, but likely not as much as Dykes would have hoped after replacing defensive coordinator Andy Buh with Art Kaufman. The Golden Bears allowed a conference-worst 46 points per game in 2013, and they remained in the cellar this past season, but they did improve that figure to 39.8 points per game. The run defense showed significant improvement, yielding under four yards per carry for the first time since 2011. At the end of the day, though, poor tackling was still a massive issue for the Bears, and it was ultimately the primary culprit responsible for keeping Cal out of the postseason. Grade: D-

Special Teams: Cal managed to get a special teams coordinator fired, so that counts as something. That happened after Trevor Davis housed two kickoffs in one quarter at Washington State. Aside from above-average kick-return numbers, Cal's special teams efficiency hovered around the national average. The Bears' punt coverage improved in 2014. Grade: B-

Overall: Cal made the jump from 1-11 to 5-7 in 2014. The failure to attain bowl eligibility at season's end generated some disappointment, but it certainly didn't extinguish the overall vibe of improvement. The Bears can now take comfort in the fact that they have a very good offense that will likely continue to improve in Goff's third season. The defense is still holding things back, though. Matters must improve on that side of the ball for Cal to become a bowl team again. Next season is big. Goff is a special talent, and it would be a pity if his entire college career was overshadowed by a porous defense. Grade: B-

Other Pac-12 reviews:

Washington State
Washington
Stanford
Utah
USC
Oregon
Oregon State

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
9:00
AM ET
The penultimate weekend for official visits before signing day is here and Pac-12 programs will host some significant targets. Here we take a look at the top three weekends in the conference.

Arizona State

[+] EnlargePorter Gustin
Tom Hauck for Student SportsArizona State is hoping to lure top defensive end Porter Gustin Tempe.
The Sun Devils had a huge group of visitors on campus last week and there will be some big names this weekend, led by ESPN 300 defensive tackle Rasheem Green and ESPN 300 athlete Porter Gustin. The Sun Devils are in direct competition with USC for both prospects -- Green is also looking at Miami and Oregon, Gustin at Ohio State -- but Arizona State is looking to put a stamp on this class and reeling in these two defensive standouts would go a long way. Green has already taken official visits to his other finalists, so this will be the last trip for the nation's No. 41 overall prospect. Gustin still has a trip left to Ohio State, but the Sun Devils have done well to climb into his small group of finalists even before the official visit.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Pac-12 morning links

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
9:00
AM ET
You've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?

Call it, Friendo.

Two quotes today... because Happy Friday.

Leading off

In case you suffer from football withdrawals at any point this weekend, take solace in the fact that plenty of elite college talent will be suiting up for the Reese's Senior Bowl this Saturday. The Pac-12 is sending an entire gaggle of representatives to this game. Most will be representing the North team, but UCLA's Anthony Jefferson and Owamagbe Odighizuwa will play for the South.

There'll be a nasty collection of defensive line talent on the North team: Think Danny Shelton, Henry Anderson, Hau'oli Kikaha, and Nate Orchard -- all on the same unit. Seeing that group play together should create a fun dynamic for avid Pac-12 fans who have watched those players terrorize quarterbacks over the past few seasons.

On the other side of the ball, Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion may have a chance to throw to receivers from Stanford (Ty Montgomery) and Washington State (Vince Mayle).

Other Pac-12 representatives: Hayes Pullard and Josh Shaw (USC), Eric Rowe (Utah), Damarious Randle and Jamil Douglas (ASU)

This one will feature plenty of hustle, as it's the final live game opportunity for these seniors to raise their NFL Draft stock.

News/notes/team reports
Just for fun
Did you know Ronnie Lott played basketball at USC? That guy needs to be on the football team. Sign him up!

Strength of schedule is an important part of the College Football Playoff selection process, and cross-league battles are a fun way to gauge the strength of each conference. Here's a look at the 2015 nonconference slate of the Pac-12 North. A look at the Pac-12 South's agenda is coming later today.

September 5
Eastern Washington at Oregon
Weber State at Oregon State
Washington at Boise State
Portland State at Washington State
Grambling State at California
Stanford at Northwestern

Weekend take: Don't forget the 2014 game in which Eastern Washington rolled up 52 points and 475 passing yards at Husky Stadium. The Eagles start their campaign at Autzen Stadium in 2015, so a reloading Oregon team must be sharp right out of bed -- they won't be kicking off their next season with the traditional cupcake gimme.

Chris Petersen's return to Boise supplies an early marquee nonconference battle. Washington's visit will be the Broncos' first game since their Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona, so this is an early opportunity for the Pac-12 to exact some revenge for that defeat. It's tough to play on the blue turf, though, and the Huskies are confronted with enormous questions entering next season. Can they replace loads of star power on the defensive end, or can they find the offensive productivity to mask those big losses? The season opener will mark a trial by fire for Petersen's crew in his second year at the helm.

Stanford's trip to Northwestern pits two of the top academically performing programs in college football against each other. The Wildcats lead the nation with a 97 percent graduation rate, while the Cardinal aren't far behind at a stellar 93 percent. On the field, Stanford looks to have the definite edge, but this game is certainly a much bigger challenge than their 2014 opener against UC Davis.

September 12
Oregon at Michigan State
Oregon State at Michigan
Sacramento State at Washington
Washington State at Rutgers
San Diego State at California
Central Florida at Stanford

Weekend take: The action heats up in Week Two, as the Pac-12 North faces only one FCS opponent (Sacramento State). A trip to East Lansing promises to be an early sink-or-swim test for new Oregon quarterback Jeff Lockie. The Ducks must find their footing fast if they aspire to return to the College Football Playoff next season. Coincidentally, both schools from the Beaver State will play in Michigan on the same day. New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will make his home debut against new Oregon State coach Gary Andersen in Ann Arbor. That promises to be a potential tone-setting game for two programs looking to get up off the mat under new regimes.

Washington State will have its chance for revenge against Rutgers following a heartbreaking loss in Seattle this past year, while Stanford kicks off a rather exotic home-and-home with Central Florida. The Knights are in the midst of a very successful stretch, so that could be a hard-hitting match-up against a Stanford team harboring high hopes entering 2015.

September 19
Georgia State at Oregon
San Jose State at Oregon State
Utah State at Washington
Wyoming at Washington State
California at Texas

Weekend take: As league play approaches, the North's nonconference slate in the season's third week isn't quite as illustrious as the Saturday prior. But there's still some sizzle here: Cal's visit to Texas will certainly remind Bears' fans of their 2004 BCS nightmare, when the Longhorns jumped their team in the final regular season rankings. This shut the Bears out of their best Rose Bowl chance in decades, and one can bet that this game means a little something extra to the program because of that whole episode. This also happens to be a critical game for Sonny Dykes' team, which will be gunning for bowl eligibility under its third-year coach.

In other action, Washington shouldn't sleep on Utah State -- the Aggies have been on a successful run of their own over the past few seasons.

November 28
Notre Dame at Stanford

Weekend take: This one is obviously very far away, but if Stanford proves it can maintain systematic defensive success while carrying over its late-season offensive spark into 2015, it may mean a whole heck of a lot. The Cardinal and the Irish have delivered dramatic finishes in two of the past three seasons, and Stanford will again be looking for revenge here. It should be noted that David Shaw's club has a strong 2015 nonconference schedule -- this clash with Notre Dame caps off a slate that also includes Northwestern and Central Florida.

Pac-12 morning links

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
9:00
AM ET
Leading off:

The NCAA is investigating 20 colleges, according to Brad Wolverton of the The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Wolverton reports that 18 of the cases are with Division I programs, so Pac-12 fans should certainly pay attention. Even if it's not affecting one of your programs it might be affecting a program that you're playing in 2015.
The cases are at various stages, from preliminary inquiry to awaiting a hearing with the Division I Committee on Infractions, and they involve a variety of missteps, including allegations that players received impermissible assistance from professors, academic advisers, or people outside of an athletic department.
News/notes/team reports:
Just for fun:

Pac-12.com did a fun #ExplainThe90s theme today on Twitter and the results are quite entertaining. Anytime there's a 90's throwback, the Pac-12 Blog is there, so we're all about this.

SPONSORED HEADLINES