Who was our player of the year for 2013?
Avinash Kunnath: This is kind of a weird question to ask off a 1-11 season, but football does have its share of team performers and I think plenty of them excelled. There are really only three nominees in my mind.
Runners up. Chris Harper & Bryce Treggs: These guys are great wide receivers, they execute at a high level and it's often hard to tell them apart. Harper faded near the end but was really banged up and Treggs did struggle to return punts (maybe consider a cornerback here next year Tommerdahl). But I was
My choice: Jared Goff. Despite how bad the season went, Goff was unflappable. He completed 60% of his passes (Maynard and Riley didn't do that until their senior seasons). He set the single season passing record--I don't care if there were a lot of dumpoffs and screens, throwing 529 passes in your first season in college is impressive. He never lost his temper or went flying off on his teammates, or retreat into a hole. He took the beatings every week and executed what the coaches wanted him to do while fans were second-guessing his every throw and move.
He has a lot of improvement to do, particularly with accuracy, touch, improving arm strength, getting his body in collegiate-level shape so that he can be more of a run threat, and really get this offense going. Our freshman quarterback being the player of the year is part of the hope and part of the problem. We weren't ready this year. But Goff being this good this early does bode well.
Berkelium97: It has to be Jared Goff. As a true freshman he nearly singlehandedly led the offense. His patchwork offensive line couldn't protect him or block well enough for Cal to have a consistent running game. So the weight of the Bear Raid was put on Goff's shoulders. He performed remarkably well for a true freshman. Prior to the start of the season, most of us would have happily accepted 3500 yards, 18 TDs, 10 interceptions, and 60% completions from Goff. Despite the hand-wringing about Cal's red zone offense, he was pretty good inside the 20. In the red zone he completed 61% of his passes and threw 10 TDs to only 1 interception (and that interception was on 4th down, so it was no worse than an incompletion). He wasn't Jesus in Cleats, though: he had fumbling issues (which mostly disappeared when he donned the gloves), he struggled in inclement weather, and his downfield accuracy wavered over the course of the season. Still, he was the most effective player in any phase of the game.
Best of all, for the first time since 2007 we have an established, promising QB returning to his starting role. If the offensive line can improve and if Cal can generate enough of a running game to keep the opposing D from dropping 8 into coverage, we'll be in great shape in 2014.
Leland Wong: 'll be a little different here and pick a player from a position that doesn't get all the attention or glory. Everyone notices the skill guys, so I'll recognize the defense. Heading into the season, I had high expectations for Stefan McClure based on his 2011 season. Kameron Jackson had a great game against UCLA and he built up a reputation as something of a ballhawk. Heading into 2013, I expected McClure would be our best cover corner while Jackson would be the bigger playmaker, but not a shutdown corner like Syd or what I expected of Stefan.
Well, for the first time I can ever remember, I was wrong about something. McClure played great for us, but Jackson really surprised. Unfortunately, I don't have the stats, but I know Jackson built up a very impressive streak of games where the opposing quarterback was never able to complete a pass when throwing Jackson's way. The great receiver talents in the conference were ultimately able to score on Jackson, but he also had several plays where he broke up the passes heading their way. It was painful watching the defense this year, especially the woefully injured defense, but Kameron Jackson was a highlight and deserves consideration as player of the year.