University Of California: Previewing the ‘Bear Raid’ Offense

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY

With head coach Sonny Dykes entering his first season with the University of California, he brings an impressive portfolio, displaying a top-ranked offense from 2012 that finished first in total yards, first downs and scoring.

They also finished third in passing yards, eighth in sacks allowed and 17th in rushing yards, despite being a pass-heavy team. Running back Kenneth Dixon even led college football with 27 rushing touchdowns.

If you could imagine, an offense named “Air Raid” means passing the ball quite a bit. In fact, Louisiana Tech’s quarterback Colby Cameron ranked fifth in college football in passing attempts last season. Dykes also directed an offense that helped wide receiver Quinton Patton rank fifth in receptions, yards and touchdowns.

So what does that mean for the Golden Bears?  After finishing with a 3-9 record and ranking out of the top 40 in every offensive category - improvement on the offensive side almost seems like a sure thing.

That being said, Cal fans shouldn’t get too ahead of themselves. it took Dykes three seasons to form his high-energy offense at LA Tech and will surely take time to hammer down at California. For example, during Cal’s spring scrimmage on March 23, the offense was called for four illegal formations, all on the offensive lineman.

If you take into factor that Cal currently has only one first-string Senior, the prospects for the coming season looks like a work in progress. However, there is one thing that is clear: Dykes has never had the talent and firepower that he is inheriting in Berkeley.

Where Patton was LA Tech’s predominant playmaker, Dykes now has the capability of designing around speedster receivers: Bryce TreggsKenny Lawler and Chris Harper. The team also has a huge target with sure hands in Richard Rodgers and a mix of speed and power out of the backfield in Brendan Bigelow and Daniel Lasco.

Given those names, no name is more significant to Cal fans than red-shirt Freshman quarterback Zach Kline. Kline was the second-ranked pocket passer coming out of high school by Rivals.com and is poised to take the reins at quarterback. His tangibles are a rocket arm, quick release and the ability to throw on the run.

“His reads are happening a little faster, seems like he’s a little more accurate on his midrange throws than he was,” Dykes said of Kline. “I think he’s improved and getting better and better. It’s good to see that.”

The Air-Raid offense generally revolves around execution. It’s all about making your reads and puts key emphasis on the quarterbacks’ ability to read defenses and the receivers’ ability to read his defender.

If there is one thing people should expect out of this offense, it will be speed. However, with a total of seven new starters on the offensive side – some bumps in the road should be expected as well. Watch out for basketball type points when Cal plays Oregon.

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