This is all we have been waiting for since the clock hit zero in Glendale, Arizona on January 11, 2016.
It has been 228 days since the last college football game was played. Now college football is back and the first game will be played in Sydney, Australia between the California Golden Bears and the Hawaii Warriors.
This opening college football match-up features a California team that is coming off of an 8-5 season a year ago. A big part of that team will not be here this year. This is Cal’s first year removed from former quarterback Jared Goff, and his replacement is transfer quarterback Davis Webb. Webb’s former offense at Texas Tech is very similar to the “Bear Raid” offense of the Golden Bears. The Bears will return a very experienced offensive line to protect Webb.
The run game will be solid with returning running backs like, Tre Watson, Vic Enwere and Khalfani Muhammad. Those three running backs accounted for 1,595 yards of Cal’s 1,984 total rushing yards from 2015. The only real question mark on offense is at the wide receiver position. California lost their top six leading receivers from last year, but their wide receiving core is flooded with young talent like 5-Star athlete Demetris Robertson.
The Bears are very experienced on the defensive side of the ball. Their defense is anchored by their front seven, especially their defensive line. They have an emerging defensive end in Cameron Saffle. He saw little action last year but in the games he did play in, he made a difference. Also on the line is end DeVante Wilson and tackle James Looney. This defense line will give Hawaii and other offenses some trouble. In the secondary they have incredible depth and competition at all positions. This summer they had many walk ons like, Marloshawn Franklin, come and fight for a starting corner back position.
For Hawaii they are coming off of a 3-10 season a year ago and they also lost their starting quarterback from a year ago. But new starter Ikaika Woolsey is very experienced and has game experience. Just like Cal, the Warriors return their three top rushers, Paul Harris, Melvin Davis and Steven Lakalaka. Those three gained 1,537 of Hawaii’s 1,611 rushing yards. But unlike Cal, Hawaii also returns their three leading receivers. Senior Marcus Kemp, sophomore Devan Stubblefield and sophomore Dylan Collie will be Woolsey’s main targets when the Warriors throw the ball.
The Hawaii Warriors are also very experienced on defense. The strength of their defense is definitely in the middle, anchored by senior linebacker Jerrol Garcia-Williams. Williams is definitely the star of the defense, but do not sleep on defensive end David Manoa. He came onto the scene late for the Warriors, but made an impact in every game he played last year. The back end of the defense looks to make a bigger impact this year. Hawaii’s secondary last year was very nonexistent. So in the offseason the Warriors added transfer defensive backs, Jamal Mayo and Jalen Rogers.
Their secondary also gets back Trayvon Henderson after his season-ending injury against Ohio State last year. So the secondary should be a lot improved from last year.
I predict California gets the victory pretty easily against Hawaii. Cal quarterback Davis Webb will have a great game in his debut with his new squad. Hawaii is a 20-point underdog and it will probably a even worse outcome for the Warriors. California should win this game by at least three touchdowns and the field goals.
But the real winner of this game is the fans because college football is back until January 9th, 2017.