It’s a cliche, but games really are won in the trenches.
Cal experienced the importance of good offensive line play last year. Or, to put that more accurately, Cal experienced the consequences of bad line play. Last year, the Bears ranked 115th out of 120 teams in sacks allowed with 3.42 per game.
Cal is looking to avoid a repeat of 2012.
The good news is that there are new players on the squad. Freddie Tagaloa and Jordan Rigsbee are sophomores who make up the left side of the line at tackle and guard, respectively. Rigsbee started last fall, but Tagaloa is new. Tagaloa played off the bench for the Bears last year — the first true freshman to do so since Brian Schwenke did in 2009.
Speaking of Schwenke, the senior was drafted by the Titans last spring, leaving a hole at center. Matt Cochran looks to be the man to step in, as he started with the most snaps at center during the spring.
Center will be the most key position, as the center is responsible for calling out protection patterns in Dykes’ system. If Cochran the definite starter, his chemistry with whoever is starting at QB behind him will be crucial.
The other two positions on the line — right guard and right tackle — are currently slated to be taken by Alejandro Crosthwaite and Bill Tyndall. Both did not start in 2012.
With Cal’s 2012 campaign fresh in mind, it’s clear that how these new players fit in with Sonny Dykes and Tony Franklin’s new system could be even more important than who starts at quarterback.