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Cal Football

Cal's Offensive Line Future Looking Bright

December 27, 2019

Coming off a season where their O-line has been drastically limited at times, the Bears will look to flip the script with a fairly deep and talented line next season.

With everyone back next season and young O-linemen showing good progress, the future is bright for the Bears’ O-line.

Cal will return it’s full 2019 starting line next season, with left tackle Valentino Daltoso (rs junior), left guard Matt Cindric (rs frosh), center Mike Saffell (rs junior), right guard McKade Mettauer (true frosh) and right tackle Jake Curhan (rs junior) all returning.

The Bears signed three offensive linemen in the 2019 class and with their injuries and lack of depth, the 6-4/270 Mettauer was pressed into service early, starting the third game of the season on the road vs. Washington.

“I’m very impressed with him,” said Greatwood. “Nothing has intimidated him. He goes in and battles. He’s a tough guy. You really can’t tell with his attitude and demeanor out there that he’s a true freshman. I haven’t seen him back down or get intimidated by any situation or anybody he’s played. And the big thing, with true freshmen, normally you see those guys get worn down later in the season but he really hasn’t. He’s kept his performance pretty darn high throughout the season, which if a pretty big plus.”

Mettauer’s size coming in was typical of the type of linemen Greatwood recruits, and while his early playing time wasn’t ideal carrying just 270 pounds, the additional weight and strength gains he’s sure to experience next season and beyond combined with his experience this year should serve him well.

“I’ve always favored recruiting offensive linemen who are athletes first. If I feel like they have the frame to add the weight and add the strength necessary to compete at this level, if I’m going to make a mistake, I’m going to make a mistake on a guy who’s an athlete first.

“Having said that, secondly, they have to be guy where football’s extremely important to them, that are going to spend the time not only in the weight room but in the film room in order for them to be better. Self-motivated guys. That’s what I’m always trying to look for. Obviously, the second part of it is hard to judge sometimes. You can’t really open up a guy and see what’s inside. But just being around him enough to get a feel for the importance of the game, the importance of improving over their careers.

“Offensive line is the type of position you develop over time. Very fews guys come in -McKade being the exception- who are ready-made to play early. So you want to see that growth potential in them -physically, mentally, emotionally and just a desire to play football and continue to get better. That’s what I’m looking for.

“I’m not always perfect at it. I’ve got my share of skeletons (recruiting misses) in the closet. But hopefully that’s the type of guys we’re attracting here.”

Like Mettauer, fellow offensive linemen Brian Driscoll and Brayden Rohme came in on the light side but both have been able to take it slower, learning the offense playing scout team and building up their bodies.

“I like them,” said Greatwood. “I think they’re both going to be very, very good players. They both have a toughness. They both have the intangibles we were talking about. They’re handling themselves in a mature manner. I think you’ll see both of those young men playing a lot of football for us down the road.”

Besides the development of young players, the Bears will also have the luxury of solid depth next season with some of the younger guys ready to play and the return of some veteran starters.

“We obviously have two guys that were slated to be starters this year in Gentle Williams and Will Craig coming back,” said Greatwood. “The competition alone I think will make us better. Iron sharpen iron with the guys getting out there competing with each other every day for starting spots. 

“It’s also going to be nice with experienced guys. Jake Curhan’s played every snap this season. Matt Cindric’s played every snap. McKade, with the exception of the first game- has played most every snap and that takes it’s toll on a body. It will be nice to have 8-9 guys you can put in there and feel like you’re not going to drop off. So you can give some guys a bit of a blow for their bodies. So I’m excited about next season and the competition level among the group. It should be good.”

The Bears’ number of healthy offensive linemen was perilously low, with just three holdovers from the Dykes era who should’ve formed the nucleus of the O-line of third, fourth and fifth year linemen in the progam.

In one stretch, the Bears had just five scholarship offensive linemen available, including one true frosh and two redshirt frosh. Next season, they’ll have 13 scholarship OL who can play plus two true frosh who will have the size and strength to contribute early if needed in massive OT Everett Johnson and big OG Jaedon Roberts.

Is there a sweet spot for total OL scholarship’s in Greatwood’s mind?

“Normally there’s a limit on that because you’re always dealing with the 85 cap but I’d like to have 15 at least,” said Greatwood. “If you could sneak 16 -there’s been years I’ve had 17 but most of the time, it’s been 15. This year, we’ll only take two (or three if Jaedon Roberts plays OL, as expected). Next year we’ll have more because we’ll have a fairly significant senior class (Curhan, Saffell, Daltoso and Williams) leaving us. So we’ll have to get busy for next year’s class -three to four guys. 

“I hate to have to recruit more than like four (in a class). It’s just hard to get much more guys than that coming in at once. You’d like to have the classes spaced out, where you’re graduating two to three at the most each year. Next year, because of guys redshirting and all, it will be a little bit unbalanced in that regard.”

Add in frosh Ben Coleman, who moved over from DT as well as rs frosh Erick Nisich, who made the same move, and the Bears will be fairly loaded with viable options manning the trenches in 2020.

The future looks bright, indeed.

Other stories:

Redbox Press Conference -Illini QB Peters Will Play

Thursday Practice Report: Bears Finish up Time in Berkeley

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