The Cal football team opens spring drills this week with few of the questions that are nagging its primary Pac-12 North rivals.

Unlike Stanford and Oregon, the Bears have an established quarterback (Zach Maynard), a proven tailback (Isi Sofele) and a big-play receiver (Keenan Allen).

But Cal's search is more about state of mind.

Call it a lack of chemistry or confidence, momentum or mojo -- but the Bears have lost it. And they desperately need to regain their footing after a disappointing performance on the field in 2011 and a chaotic recruiting season.

That hunt was delayed Tuesday by the storm front that slammed into the Bay Area. The rains led coach Jeff Tedford to postpone the first scheduled practice of the spring until Thursday.

"Standing water of the field -- want 2 make sure in Spring we get quality work," Tedford tweeted.

When Cal does hit the field, the focus will be on reversing a trend that has seen the Bears slipping toward mediocrity.

Cal is coming off a 7-6 season that ended with a 21-10 loss to Texas in the Holiday Bowl. Also, there was drama during the recruiting season. Cal lost star recruiter/assistant coach Tosh Lupoi, then saw several high-profile players back out on oral commitments that likely would have given the Bears a top-10 class nationally.

Spring drills will change the discussion back to football, but Allen, Cal's all-conference receiver, won't participate. He had surgery Thursday to repair an injury to his right ankle suffered while playing pickup basketball. He is expected to be ready for the fall.

Meanwhile, Tedford's gaze is locked on the defense, where he must replace six starters -- ends Ernest Owusu and Trevor Guyton, inside linebackers Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt and safeties Sean Cattouse and D.J. Campbell.

"There are a lot of young guys there, and it's their turn to take the next step," Tedford said recently. "That's what you use spring football for."

There's no shortage of young talent on the line with Viliami Moala, Todd Barr and Mustafa Jalil -- the core of Cal's heralded 2011 recruiting haul.

On offense, the left tackle spot vacated by longtime starter Mitchell Schwartz will be closely watched.

Tyler Rigsbee, Bill Tyndall, Matt Summers-Gavin and Matt Williams are contenders, Tedford said. Also, there is touted freshman Christian Okafor, who already is on campus.

Tedford also recently addressed the persistent rumors that Maynard could be academically ineligible before the 2012 season.

"There's nothing there as of now," Tedford said. "He's just like anybody else on our team."

Allan Bridgford, a junior, is listed as the backup. Also, touted recruit Zach Kline from San Ramon Valley High is enrolled in school.

The lengthy list of players who will miss spring drills, in addition to Allen, includes fullback Eric Stevens, cornerback Marc Anthony, center Dominic Galas, defensive back Michael Coley, cornerback Stefan McClure, tailback Dasarte Yarnway and defensive end Brennan Scarlett.

For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716. Contact Mark Emmons at 408-920-5745.