The 2012 season has been a disappointment on so many levels for Jeff Tedford and the Cal Bears. At 3-6, the boys of Berkeley are wallowing in the lower tier of the Pac 12 standings and look like a team that will suffer just its second losing season under Tedford (but his second in three seasons).
One of the few bright spots on this team has been the play of their Biletnikoff Award candidate, Keenan Allen. Things may be getting darker in Berkeley this week, however, as Allen looks questionable to play in Friday’s game against the Washington Huskies.
Allen was injured late in Cal’s 49-27 loss to the Utah Utes. On the day, the junior wide receiver became Cal’s all-time leader in receptions, but didn’t finish the game after getting “hurt badly” on an onside kick, according to sources.
Today, Allen was absent from practice, reportedly due to the injury. On a short week to prepare, with the Huskies coming to town on Friday, it makes it unlikely that Allen will be 100-percent by gametime, and may not be able to play at all.
On the season, Allen has been one of the few consistent weapons for Tedford’s offense. He’s caught 61 passes for 737 yards, which is down from his breakout 2011 where he caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards, but has matched his career high for touchdown catches with six. His season was highlighted by his 11-catch, 166-yard performance against the Washington State Cougars.
Without Allen, the Bears’ passing attack will be hard-pressed to find a new go-to guy. Only two receivers on the roster besides Allen have more than 20 catches on the season and none of those remaining have more than 30. Allen has been responsible for 36-percent of the receptions this season, 36-percent of the receiving yards, and 50-percent of the receiving touchdowns.
The second leading receiver for the Bears this season is freshman Chris Harper, who has caught 29 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns. He is the only Bears receiver besides Allen to have more than one touchdown catch or more than 300 yards receiving this season.
Losing Allen will likely be the final nail in the coffin for Cal’s 2012 season. In order to become bowl eligible, the Bears would have to run the table against Washington, the Oregon Ducks, and the Oregon State Beavers. That would have been a miraculous run to begin with. Without Allen, it’s likely an impossible hill to climb.
Depending on the severity of Allen’s injury, we may have seen the last of the talented wide receiver in a Bears’ uniform. Without much to play for, the team may shut Allen down rather than trying to rush him back and cause further injury. After the season, there are plenty of question marks about the coaching staff in Berkeley. Any upheaval or unrest may push Allen to declare early for the NFL Draft, where he is sure to be a prized prospect.
We will have to keep an eye on Allen’s status leading up to kickoff, but he will be limited even if he plays. At this point, however, half of Keenan Allen is still better than anything else the Cal Bears have catching the football this year.