It has been a brutal past six months of so for the Cal Bears. They really couldn't have been much worse. Between a one-win season, a horrific rash of injuries, internal team fights, a struggling new coach, a massive wave of unnecessary early defections to the NFL and now the tragic passing of a player, Berkeley is not a fun place to be right now. But, now with spring football here, the Bears can get back to football and picking themselves up off of the ground under Sonny Dykes.
The major focus of most programs around the Pac-12 will likely be a couple of things, such as figuring out a new starting quarterback, breaking in a young offensive line, or searching for pass rushers, the Bears aren't even that far yet, they pretty much just need to start work on getting back to football and being a cohesive unit this spring. In fact, the Bears' biggest focus might be simply staying healthy, as distasting injuries in the preparation for the 2013 season pretty much sunk the campaign before it even got started.
Still, there are some things other than simple, old fashioned healing that the Bears will likely be addressing in the spring of 2014:
Building cohesion on the offensive line - The Bears had one of the youngest offensive lines in the conference last season and will again in 2014 so they better get these guys ready to play together for a long time. They have showed the ability to run block, but they greatly need to start improving their pass blocking this spring, especially with how much the Bears pass, as they gave up more sacks per-game than any team in the conference in 2013.
Develop red zone threats - The Bears actually moved the ball up and down the field fairly well in 2013, particularly through the air with their Bear raid offense, but like many teams that rely so heavily on the pass, they regularly bogged down in the red zone and had the worst scoring offense in the conference. The Bears need to find a big receiving target, especially with Richard Rodgers off to the NFL early, that can be dangerous in the red zone, and a running back that can punch the ball in from short yardage.
Find some pass rushers - The Bears nearly finished dead last in the conference in sacks in 2013 and in a time in college football when speed on the edge and passing are so crucial, that kind of lack of production is a death sentence for a defense and a big part of why the Bears were last in pass defense.
Quickly adjusting junior college transfer on defense to Pac-12 football - In an attempt to improve quickly and plug some of the holes lost by early entries to the NFL, injuries and transfers, the Bears signed six junior college prospects on defense this off-season. Getting these guys up to speed quickly this spring could be the difference in the Bears improving their defense, especially since they are all coming in at positions of serious needs.