August 7, 2012
By Tim Miguel - Cal Athletic Communications
The tandem burst onto the scene in 2011, combining for 18 of Cal's 25 rushing scores. Sofele, who collected 10 rushing TDs last year, hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark as well, finishing the campaign with 1,322 yards. Anderson proved to be a force in the redzone as the Bear's go-to option at the goaline on many occasions.
Among the numerous factors that led to the successes of Sofele and Anderson, both backs give credit to the tutelage and inspiration from associate head coach/run game coordinator Ron Gould.
"We're anticipating those guys having big years," Gould said. "They catch the ball well. We plan on using them in the passing game. In the run game, those guys have done a pretty good job. Hopefully they can improve in that area, as well. Because of their versatility, we'll be able to do a multitude of things with them. We're very excited about getting underway and seeing what these guys can do."
One of the other factors Sofele and Anderson said helped them last year was the friendly rivalry they have on the practice field. Both backs constantly pushed each other to raise the bar throughout the season.
"We're always going to be competitive out there," Sofele said. "Off the field, we're best friends. On the field, we're out there fighting for the top spot. We really love competing against each other. The more we compete, the better we both get, which helps the team get to where we want to go.
"I love being part of a tandem, knowing that you have help out there," Sofele added. "It would be nice to be a one-man workhorse, but it's hard to take over a whole game by yourself. You always need help. It's a great thing to have C.J."
Anderson agrees with Sofele, especially after learning first-hand in junior college how important it is to always keep your stamina up during a game.
"I was always told when I was at the junior college level that you want to be fresh," said Anderson, who played for two seasons at Laney College in Oakland before transferring to Cal. "You never want to take a carry when you're tired. As much as we're both in great shape, we're both going to have some times when we're winded."
The two push each other more than just on the practice field. During games last season, the two were in constant communication with each other. Sofele, the starter, would get the first crack at the defense. When he returned to the sidelines, he would tell Anderson what the defense looked like, how they moved to the ball, how hard they hit, etc. Then when Anderson took the next crack on the field, he would come back and tell Sofele about any adjustments the defense made from the previous drive.
Causing defenses to make adjustments has become a regular thing for Sofele. The native of Salt Lake City, Utah, has racked up many preseason accolades like being named to the Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award watch lists honoring the nation's top player and running back, respectively, as well as preseason All-Pac-12 honors. All of those notices couldn't be further from his mind, though. Sofele is fully focused on reaching 1,000 yards again and getting the Golden Bears to the Rose Bowl.
Both running backs fully intend on eclipsing 1,000 yards. If you only look at the final 2011 season stats, it would seem like quite a jump for Anderson to reach 1,000 yards after he ended 2011 with 345. However, Anderson felt like he was just coming into his own towards the end of the year. In the regular-season finale at Arizona State, Anderson scored on a career-high 74-yard touchdown reception. Prior to that in the final home game against Oregon State, Anderson rushed for a career-high 96 yards on 14 carries.
"The touchdown against Arizona State may have shown coach Tedford how athletic I am," Anderson said. "In the spring, I started getting moved around to the slot and catching more balls out of the backfield. The highlight of my season was against Oregon State. I went from five or six carries to 14. I had a bunch of yards called back because of penalties, but it shows when I get a certain amount of carries, I can make big things happen. It's all about opportunity. Every play that you're in, it's an opportunity to make something happen."
Both backs have been chomping at the bit for 2012 training camp to get underway. Sofele knew he was ready for the 2012 season to start the moment Gould called him and Anderson into his office for a meeting at the outset of camp.
"During the first day of camp Coach G pulled me and C.J. into his office and he told us that we have to be the front line, speak up and be leaders," Sofele said. "As soon as he told me that, it got my heart pumping because it meant the season was right around the corner. We are both stepping up our leadership, talking to everybody and communicating. Everything is going on the right path right now."
At the conclusion of the 2012 season, Cal will have a huge void to fill since both of these talented running backs will be leaving Berkeley. But neither Sofele or Anderson wants to leave the Bears hanging out to dry next year. They're doing everything they can now to help the younger guys like Brendan Bigelow, Daniel Lasco and Darren Ervin learn as quickly as they can so they can take the reins with full confidence next year.
Besides already trying to help their future alma maters in the future, helping instruct the younger running backs also helps Sofele and Anderson improve their games right now.
"You never stop learning," Sofele said. "As you teach the young guys, you're still learning yourself. It helps you out a lot. Personally, I like helping the younger guys because it helps me understand it more myself."