Cal Football Fall Camp Preview: The Quarterbacks

For the first time in over a decade, there's a new sheriff in town as Memorial wakes from her off-season slumber. The start of fall camp always engenders hope and optimism. But this year, the winds of change add an extra infusion of energy to a team desperate to prove that last season was an aberration. Reportedly, the off-season workouts have been intense. (This, of course, is completely unlike other years where workouts were described as 'cuddly' and 'fluffy.') Sonny Dykes brought over new strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington from LaTech in order to get the team ready to practice and play at a significantly faster pace.


Trigga ‏@BryceTreggs
19 Jun
Everything we do is fast. We practice fast, lift weights fast, transition between drills fast, and the list goes on. Keep up or get rolled.

There are more questions than answers for this young Cal team and its new coaching staff. Position battles promise to be fierce as true frosh and veteran players returning from injury are added to the mix. Ideally, the coaches will be able to move quickly to determine their two-deeps. Because with new schemes on both sides of the ball and what looks to be a very young team, our projected starters can use all the reps they can get. With a brutal schedule waiting in the wings, how quickly Coach Dykes and company can get our guys up to speed may very well determine whether this year is all about rebuilding or whether we dare dream again of post-season play.

First up in our camp preview series, let's dive right in and look at the quarterbacks. The official post-spring two-deep roster can be seen here.

Quarterback:

Zach Kline(*Fr)
Jared Goff(Fr)
Austin Hinder(Jr)
Kyle Boehm(So)

Spring ball was all about the Klindergoff battle. Kline, Goff, and Hinder quickly separated themselves to earn the majority of practice reps. Kyle Boehm saw some time at tight end/inside receiver and also as an option runner in goal line packages. It's unknown whether this was merely due to a lack of healthy bodies or whether it's something the coaches are seriously looking at. More than likely, he's slated for clipboard and signaling duty.

Zach Kline is The Arm. He can make throws and fit the ball into tight windows that the other quarterbacks simply cannot. As could be expected, his spring was up and down as he worked at learning the new offense. Charismatic and vocal, he shows great leadership potential. Many Cal fans would love for him to win the starting position. If his off-season work lets him let loose and play instinctively, he has to be considered the favorite.

Jared Goff has The Touch. He ran a spread offense similar to the Dykes/Franklin system in high school and his familiarity was evident throughout spring ball. Accuracy is his calling card. Equally impressive is the poise displayed by the true frosh in facing Div-I competition for the first time without flinching. With its emphasis on timing and quick throws, the Dykes/Franklin offense is a great fit for his skill set. As unlikely as it is for a true frosh to win the job, his persistence through the spring means you can't count Goff out.

Austin Hinder is known for The Legs. His running ability adds another dimension to the position. Tony Franklin's recent recruitment of dual-threat quarterback Luke Rubenezer shows that he values mobility as an asset. Hinder has been a bit under the radar through the spring, but he's the only upper classman at the position. Although he's also not taken any real-game snaps, having an extra couple years of practice and maturation under his belt might make a difference. He's gotten attention in the past for his ability to throw a nice ball on the run.

Hard to say which way Dykes/Franklin will go with this one. They've stated in the past that they want the guy who moves the chains consistently. This doesn't necessarily mean that it'll be the guy who can make the toughest throws; it's more important to have someone who can make the easy throws consistently.

If past history is any indicator, the opening day starter isn't set in stone. At Arizona, Dykes initially went with Matt Scott, then switched to Nick Foles and stuck with him when he produced. LaTech's lower offensive numbers in 2011 were in part due to a quarterback carousel before they finally settled on Colby Cameron.

If I had to guess, I'd predict Kline as the starter with Hinder backing him up. Goff redshirts to get stronger and to maintain his eligibility for the future.

Here's what Coach Dykes said about the position over the summer:

"Not much has changed. We walked away with three guys we really feel we have a chance to win with. It's a little scary because the lack of experience, but they all have talent, good work ethic, attitude. Hinder is bigger, a bit of a runner, older and experienced. Two freshmen in Zach Kline, who everyone knows about. Great arm and successful in high school. The other freshman is Jared Goff, who was also very successful. Kline's got the big arm. Jared is the finesse guy; got a good-enough arm. We plan to build the offense around the quarterback's strengths and avoid his weaknesses to put him in a position to be successful."

Quarterbacks Summary:

Position Coach: Tony Franklin

Probable Strengths:

Simplified offense. The new Bear Raid offense has fewer plays and reads. It's all about execution at a fast pace.

Talent. Kline, Hinder, and Goff were all highly regarded and sought-after high school recruits.

Potential Weaknesses:

Inexperience. Number of Div-I snaps combined? Zero.

Biggest Questions:

Who's going to be the man?

How long of a leash will Dykes/Franklin give their young starter if he struggles?

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