SALT LAKE CITY – Spring ball is over, and the summer months are upon us making it a great time to take an early look at Utah football’s 2023 opponents.
After a short-week trip to Corvallis to play Oregon State on a Friday night, the Utes get a break the following week with their BYE (October 1-7) before turning their attention to host the Cal Golden Bears in week seven.
The Golden Bears have been a little hard on their luck in recent years under head coach Justin Wilcox who is 30-36 at the helm. Last season, Cal was just 4-8 making it likely they will be hungry heading into Salt Lake for a program changing upset.
The When And Where Of Utah Football Vs. Cal
When: Saturday, October 14
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
What We Know About Cal Heading Into 2023
As mentioned above, Cal has not had an easy go and it appears they are in for an uphill battle in 2023.
When Wilcox was hired as the head coach for the Golden Bears it appeared he had them on an upward trajectory improving their record in each of his first three seasons, but then Covid hit and Cal has struggled to get back on track.
Add in Athletic Department financial woes and things feel very bleak for California football in 2023.
Golden Bear Defense Needs To Be Better
There are plenty of areas to point to concerning Cal football that haven’t gone well and need to improve. Perhaps the biggest area that needs to get-it-together however (at least according to this article) is the defense.
The argument is that Wilcox is a defensive-minded coach and therefore, the Golden Bears probably shouldn’t be giving up an average of 429 offensive yards per game.
From the sounds of it Cal hit the transfer portal hard to address their defensive concerns adding former UNLV cornerback Nohl Williams and former San Deigo State safety Patrick McMorris to the mix of a pretty solid DB room.
Additionally, it appears the Golden Bears have a pretty solid linebacker corps with Washington transfer Jackson Sirmon and Florida transfer David Reese as the main building blocks of the unit.
Where it seems like there are still questions is the defensive line who struggled to get much pressure in 2022.
Cal’s Offense Isn’t Getting A Complete Pass
Cal will be breaking in a new offensive coordinator in Jake Spavital after his time ran out as the head coach at Texas State. Spavital, much like Utah’s Andy Ludwig, is actually coming around for his second stay with Cal having been with the Golden Bears back in 2016.
Spavital is known for high-octane offenses, but the one hurdle to getting Cal there may come at the offensive line who while returning four starters from the year before, will have to adjust quickly to a very different style of play.
The quarterback spot appears to be settled for Cal with Sam Jackson who transferred from TCU being the favorite for the job.
Based off of reports, Cal seems to be confident in their pass catchers even with star J. Michael Sturdivant heading for UCLA, but on the flip side, it doesn’t sound as positive for the run game that is being described as “thin”.
Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports