Players to Watch – Cal Golden Bears


Nov 19, 2011; Stanford CA, USA; California Golden Bears defensive lineman Deandre Coleman (91) before a play against the Stanford Cardinal during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Stanford defeated California 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Bears are moving on from the Jeff Tedford era and into the Sonny Dykes era as head coach. Dykes is known as an offensive innovator that will put the ball in the air and points on the scoreboard which will attract talent to Berkeley. Talent was not a problem in the Tedford era as much as the program just becoming stagnant so with a switch to a spread look and a 4-3 defense, there are changes coming that should excite Bears fans.

#91 – Deandre Coleman – DT
6’4” – 320 lbs. – SR

Deandre Coleman is a massive player that played out of position under the Tedford regime as a 3-4 defensive end but will move back inside as a defensive tackle in the 4-3 defense that Dykes has implemented. He has shown durability by playing in all 37 games throughout his career at Cal and enters the 2013 campaign as a Pre-Season Second-Team All-Pac 12 selection by Phil Steele.

Strengths – Coleman has raw power that he uses well to anchor on the line and hold his defender off before he sheds and makes a play.  On first movement, he punches well to the chest of the offensive lineman creating space and gaining control. For his size, Coleman is agile when scraping down the line or chasing a ball carrier in the backfield where once he gets his strong hands a hold of the ball carrier, he is able to take him down.

Weaknesses – Coleman is a massive man that shows a great anchor but with minimal push for being a disruptive defensive tackle. This could partially be due to playing out of position at defensive end where he stayed home more often than not to make sure he didn’t give up the edge or big running lanes. He will need to work on staying lower while coming off the snap as he has a tendency to stand up and look for the ball carrier instead of driving.

Overall – The 2013 campaign is an important one for Coleman to display his ability anchoring the inside of a defensive line. On the post-spring depth chart, Coleman was listed at nose tackle which is a good fit for his frame and abilities. He has the size and strength to become a very good 4-3 defensive tackle and possible be able to handle a two gap system with improved agility.

#5 – Brendon Bigelow – RB
5’10” – 187 lbs. – JR

After playing behind two seniors during the 2012 season, Brendan Bigelow is poised to become the featured running back in the Sonny Dykes offense which creates plenty of space and running lanes for running backs. Bigelow is coming off of a season that he had 1,328 all-purpose yards and was named Honorable Mention all-conference as a returner where he averaged 23 yards per return for the Golden Bears.

Strengths – Two things that stand out when watching Bigelow for the first time are his amazing balance and burst. Bigelow excels when he sees a crease or the edge where he has not only a second gear but a third gear to turn on and run past defenders. He has impeccable vision once the ball is in his hand finding lanes whether it is in the return game or running the ball. His frame is compact and he runs low to the ground where he is able to absorb contact and keep his feet churning to pick up the extra yards.

Weakness – Bigelow has been spared the bulk of touches in his first two seasons but this year will be asked to carry the load for the Bears. Bigelow, like many running backs, needs to improve pass protection. He has a tendency to be unbalanced when attacking his assignment. Bigelow will need to show the ability to run between the tackles for the tough yards and not just the long runs that he is known for to show he is an all-around back.

Overall – Bigelow is poised to follow in the footsteps of Golden Bears running backs in the NFL.  He possesses great speed, vision, and balance which is all attributes needed to succeed at the running back position. The change from a more traditional style offense that Tedford ran to a more innovative offense that Dykes will implore will only put Bigelow in position to see space once the ball is in his hands.