Continuing with a series on some of Cal's most important pieces for success this season, continuing with redshirt freshman outside linebacker, Cameron Goode
Previous Bear Essentials: Patrick Mekari
Because of how football is set up, most season preview articles about biggest pieces or x-factors give disproportionate weight to the quarterback. Well, not me, and not here – it’s a given that they’ll need adequate production from projected starter Ross Bowers (or Chase Forrest), but it’s no fun to spend another couple hundred words talking about that. Again.
Instead, I’m going to start my contributions to this series by making a case for a player who I’ve led the bandwagon on since the first time I saw him on tape in 2015: redshirt freshman Cameron Goode.
Havoc Rate (unofficially calculated, but still) has been a weekly part of this column for two seasons now, with the Bears always ranking toward the bottom of that defensive measure nationwide. The average – 61st ranking – team in CFB last year had a Havoc Rate of 15.7%, meaning every ten plays or so, they’ll generate a forced fumble, pass defensed, interception, or tackle for loss; sometimes two. Cal has barely managed even one of those disruptive plays in ten tries, and their 12.0% was second to last in the country.
In fact, according to my records, Cal has had five total games in the last two seasons when they’ve hit an “average” Havoc Rate of > 15%. SDSU, Washington, and Washington State in 2015, and Hawaii and Oregon in 2016. Unsurprisingly, success in this statistic is strongly correlated with victory – they were 5-0 in these matchups, and defensive specialist Justin Wilcox will be tasked with trying to reach this level of production.
To do this, they’ll need to replace graduated defensive end DeVante Wilson and they’re counting on bigger years from the duo of Cam Saffle and Evan Weaver, but it’s Goode who might be the most natural candidate to make an impact. In the new look Cal 3-4 defense, the linebackers are going to be tasked with making plays with the space freed up for them, and speedy, athletic, fluid athletes like Goode are best set up to benefit. Those traits project well with Goode and are also essential for 3-down players in this conference, because being unable to cover ground in this conference makes you a huge liability. He is still not quite as big as he could be – bumped up to 225 currently – but based on the limited glimpses we’ve had of him this spring, what the coaches have said in press conferences, there’s a lot of reason to feel, well…Goode about his chances of being a contributor this year.