2010 Actual Finish: 8th Place in the Pac-10 (5-7, 3-6)
Coming into the 2010 season Jeff Tedford had led the Golden Bears to 8 consecutive winning seasons and 7 consecutive bowl invites. In 2009, Cal went 8-5 and expectations were for about the same this season. After winning their first two games the tone was set for the season as Cal went on the road and lost at Nevada (52-31) and at Arizona (10-9). This was a year that Cal would have a tough time buying a victory on the road. In fact, their only road win was against Washington State (who finished 2-10 overall). Couple the inability to win on the raod with a 3 game stretch at the end of the season that included games against Top 10 foes Oregon and Stanford and it was not a year for the scrapbook for Cal.
Despite going 5-7 there were bright spots. In three of their victories they thoroughly outplayed conference foes, or future conference foes (beat Colorado 52-7, beat UCLA 35-7, beat Arizona State 50-17). And they hung close in three of their losses (losing to eventual National Championship runner-up Oregon by only 2 points, lost to Washington by 3 points and fell to Arizona by a single digit). We reached out to Scout.com's California website CalSportsDigest.com to find out their thoughts about the 2010 Golden Bears and Mario Gomez provided us with some answers.
1. In our Pre-Season Preview you said you thought it looked like another 8 win season for Cal. Unfortunately, Cal only went 5-7. What went wrong?
The season-ending injury to Kevin Riley in week eight at Oregon State did!
While most Cal fans were displeased with Riley’s up-and-down QB play through the first seven games of the season, reality hit them once Brock Mansion assumed the reigns. No fault to Mansion, he just wasn’t ready. He was third team during fall camp and did not become the backup QB until mid-season. His reps with the first team offense were limited, and it was evident with the lack of timing with his receivers.
Cal probably pulls the stunner over Oregon with better QB play, and definitely beats Washington in the season finale with Riley as the signal caller. That would have made Cal bowl eligible and given the Bears a shot at eight wins.
2. Which player was the biggest surprise of the season?
Strong safety Chris Conte flourished in first-year defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s defense. After starting just four games during the previous two years, Conte turned in an All-Pac-10 season in 2010.
3. What players are you most looking forward to watching next year?
Whoever wins the QB battle in the spring? It’s likely between Buffalo transfer Zach Maynard and redshirt freshman Austin Hinder. Mansion and Beau Sweeney will also be in the mix.
4. What areas does Cal need to improve on the most this off-season?
QB play is the most glaring problem. Head coach Jeff Tedford is going to assume more responsibility coaching the quarterbacks, which should help. Cal also needs to find a replacement for running back Shane Vereen, who elected to forego his senior year to enter the NFL Draft. And there is also something called a left tackle, which Cal doesn’t have.