Preview 2017: Cal Got The Right Coach In Justin Wilcox
With a great coaching hire, how long will it take for Cal to be great under Justin Wilcox?
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Pac-12 offenses, you’re not going to have Cal to kick around anymore.
Out of the 20 new head coaching hires coming into the 2017 season, if you’re looking to buy low on the stock of someone who has the makeup and potential to be a superstar, America, meet Justin Wilcox.
Cal needed a change from the all O/no D Sonny Dykes era, and here it is.
Wilcox might not have the national coaching brand name of some of the other new head men around the country, but good luck finding anyone who doesn’t think this was a good move. He’s ready, and it probably should’ve happened a bit sooner.
The rising superstar defensive coordinator created killer defense after killer defense at Boise State, was great at Washington and USC, and last year was a huge part of Wisconsin’s dominant season.
Considering Cal had the nation’s second-worst run defense, was 125th in total D, and seemingly couldn’t come up with a meaningful stop or tackle, getting a defensive-minded head man was a brilliant move, made even better by who he brought in to help the cause.
Tim DeRuyter might have struggled late during his time as the Fresno State head coach, but he’s a hard-nosed defensive teacher who should mesh in will with Wilcox. Between the two, the defense has the potential – if all goes well – to make a night-and-day improvement.
At the very least, this group will be able to tackle.
The offense wasn’t ignored, and in some ways, it might be improved – at least in terms of effectiveness with the overall team scheme – with the addition of longtime Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin, whose passing games dominated the FCS world – and several Pac-12 teams – over the last decade.
Combine the Baldwin versatile, multi-schemed attack with what Wilcox and DeRuyter will build on defense, and Cal isn’t kidding around.
The massive breakthrough isn’t going to happen overnight, though.
Cal will run the ball more effectively, and the defense that can’t be any worse, won’t be, but there’s still a quarterback situation to settle, the offensive line needs some tinkering, and no, as good as the coaches will be, you don’t go from being that bad to being a brick wall on D after a few practices.
Throw in a schedule that should throw a wet blanked on the first half of the season – at North Carolina, Weber State, Ole Miss, USC, at Oregon, at Washington – and temper the expectations for now.
But there’s experience on both sides of the ball. There won’t need to be some massive adjustment in personnel on offense, the tinkering on defense should help out of the box, and the kicking game should grow into one of the strongest in the Pac-12.
And, of course, Wilcox will go through his share of growing pains going from super-assistant to the big cheese. But if you’re a Cal fan, be fired up. This is the inspired hire the program needed.
And if you’re in the Pac-12 North, be afraid that the Cal brass might have gotten this hire really, really right.