Because the real recruiting season hasn't quite gotten started yet, GRW will be doing a position by position analysis of our most recent recruits and how they're fitting into their roles on the Cal football Team.
This week will be devoted to quarterback play, and since we only have one true freshmen QB, Goff will be the main focus.
By now most Cal fans are acquainted with the three way quarterback competition that is going on. Unfortunately, Saturday's spring game did not reveal whether or not the coaches are leaning towards a particular player. To me, Goff has been by far the biggest surprise of the Spring. At times he's looked like the clear cut best QB out there. Although I don't think he's ready for the starting job yet, I think he has already displayed a promising skill set that will only improve as he gets older.
One of the major bright spots of the Spring Game (from an offensive perspective) was Goff's play in my opinion. Not to take anything away from Hinder and Kline, I thought they both played solid games. But Goff was playing in the MCAL a few months ago (one of the weaker leagues in California), and has only had a number of weeks to digest his college playbook.
Check out some of these highlights.
Although Goff is not on the same physical level as Hinder and Kline (both of those guys looked really athletic on Saturday), Goff's arm is already throwing at an elite level, and he has an extremely high football IQ. Let me direct your attention to some plays in particular from Saturday.
Goff's first completion - at the 2:35 minute mark.
4 wide receiver set. Defense looks like they have switched to a 3-4 for this particular play-only 3 guys with hands in the ground. All 4 linebackers are bunched together at the line of scrimmage. Goff sees this and knows two things: either the defense is bringing the house, or this is a disguised zone cover. Goff, knowing that he has a simple out route going with the inside left receiver, knows that the linebacker-even if he is dropping back in zone-will not be able to get out there in time. Both outside linebackers blitz, bringing a 5 man rush, with the farthest outside LB (Lucas King) getting in free. The 2 other linebackers drop into zone. This is an easy completion for a good, experience quarterback. Jared however hasn't ever before played against linebackers this size and speed. Despite this, he gets the ball out quickly and smoothly to the out route, even with the outside linebacker in his face. He takes the hit (big hit!), but gets the completion. That's not a throw a high school senior generally can make right away.
5:25 minute mark.
This may have been the nicest throw of the day from any quarterback. Another 4 wide receiver set. Defense is sitting in a basic 4-3 without showing anything in particular (as in a blitz, or what kind of coverage they will run), which is in many ways the hardest thing for a young quarterback to deal with- it forces them to actually read a defense. When Goff was heavily blitzed, he could rely on his instincts to get it out as quickly as possible. Now he's got to identify what coverage the defense is in and wait for people to get open.
Prior to the snap the linebackers drop back, indicating that they will probably be in zone coverage. Goff realizes this, and sees that his running back will be guarded over the middle by a linebacker, a clear mismatch. Goff stands tall in the pocket, then throws a beautiful strike to the running back that leads his receiver into an open area (throwing his receiver open). He hits the running back in stride for a big gain. Now that is a big time throw! Goff not only was able to immediately identify the mismatch, but he also threw a perfect pass.
6:10 minute mark.
4 wide receiver set, defense is bringing one of the outside linebackers, so we have a 5 man rush. Total miscommunication by the line allows for Jefferson to get around the outside free (not good, play like this ended Joe Theismann's career). Goff doesn't panic though. He steps up into the pocket, and awkwardly manages to roll off one of his linemen, escaping out to the left. Seeing Coprich a few yards a head of him, Goff uses some of his baseball skills and flips the ball out to him like a shortstop. A savvy play that once again exemplifies that the moment isn't too big for Jared Goff. This guy doesn't seem to have any rookie jitters at all, appearing calm and collected at all times.
8:00 minute mark.
This is just a beautiful play design, and gets me really excited about Sonny Dykes and what his offense can bring to the table. To be quite frank, we wouldn't see anything like this with Tedford. Our redzone game was either up the middle runs or Zach Maynard throwing a back foot fade to his brother. We start with a special formation- two wide receivers are out to the left, with a running back to Goff's left, and a fullback/h-back in a 3 point stance directly in front of the RB. The set alone gets me excited!
The defense has to respect the endzone because the two wide receivers (especially Whitehurst), are in positions to run fades as well as quick slants (two really hard red zone patterns to defend). Additionally, the defense has to look to defend the run play, which essentially is a power run with a fullback (another effective red zone play). Goff hikes the ball and gives a nice play action to the back. The interior backers bite just a little bit, but that's enough. Meanwhile, the CB that's guarding Whitehurst has his back turned to the ball completely. Unless he gets his head around immediately, he's toast. Goff throws a nice back shoulder strike, Whitehurst pushes off a tad, and it's an easy touchdown. A thing of beauty.
13:28 minute mark.
This was actually a questionable decision, so I won't spend much time discussing it. But it still was a big time, long distance completion. Goff definitely delivers a pretty ball here, even though its into triple coverage. But hey, I like to see a young QB willing to take risks like this to make his mark in the coaching staff's mind.
Although Goff may have had the most impressive day on Saturday (at least in my opinion), I still don't think he noticeably outperformed his counterparts, and I'd still be very surprised to see him starting come Fall. That being said, Goff will have a chance to start at some point, and I expect to see him put up big numbers when he does.
What did you guys think of our QBs performances on Saturday, and for the rest of the Spring for that matter? Were you as impressed with Goff as I was?