Jared Goff, Starting QB Roundtable

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

The CGB team reacts to Jared Goff being named the starting quarterback in 2500 words or more.

Sam Fielder: Initial thoughts:

1. I'm guessing that the fanbase, having anointed Kline as the savior for 2 years now, will be up in arms over this, but if Sonny & Co think he gives us the best chance to win, then you go with him. Obviously we can't point to other decisions they've made in the past to say, well, they've earned us at least going with it (the Billy Beane Rule) but you have to think they at least have an idea of what they want, what the team needs, and how this will go moving forward.

2. As Nam has said repeatedly, Goff has been the steadiest, while Kline has the most upside. We'll obviously see how it goes, but I think at least initially, limited mistakes and doing what you're good at is not a terrible way to go. I think Goff will be fine and while he isn't the people's choice (I don't think), it isn't like Kline was going to come out and set the world on fire and he clearly did not win the job in Fall camp.


norcalnick: Having seen not a second of spring or fall practice, what this says to me is that Goff must have clearly outperformed his competitors. You don't install a true freshman at starting quarterback unless he has clearly outshone everybody else.

What is almost more interesting to me, is what this decision says about Sonny Dykes. College football coaches have conservative reputations for a reason. Decisions are often made based on what is less likely to result in criticism and second guessing. You know what kind of decision might invite 2nd guessing from fans and the media? Picking a true freshman quarterback over an older, very highly rated recruit who had been strongly hyped by both fans and the media.

That suggests to me that Dykes is either 1) very, very confident about his decisions or 2) entirely unafraid and unconcerned with being 2nd guessed by fans, media, and us unwashed blog heathen types. Perhaps both. And that's how we need him to be.

Vlad Belo: Count me among those who thought that it was only a matter of time before Zach Kline was named the starting QB. I started to waver on it a bit as I waded through all of the practice reports and saw that Kline was not separating himself. Not only that, it seemed from the reports that Goff was improving, has a handle on the offense, and makes fewer mistakes. Kline strikes me as a guy who has the bling -- the guy most capable of giving us the big play -- but that Goff might be the superior game manager. (At least that is my impression from the practice reports.)

I'm still interested to see how this plays out. Will Kline still have an opportunity to wrest the job away? The first thought I had was to harken back to the Reggie Robertson-Aaron Rodgers competition before the 2003 season. Robertson won the job as the starter for the season opener vs. Kansas State that year and started Cal's first four games of the season before the Rodgers took the starting job for good. Might Kline have that kind of a shot? With Rodgers, recall that Tedford went with 2 QBs for 3 of the first 4 games that season. Query whether Coach Dykes will give Kline some game action.

Big difference here, though: in 2003, even when Reggie was the starter, you could tell that Rodgers was the more gifted QB and sensed that it was only a matter of time before he got comfortable with the offense and took over the keys to the offense. I don't think that you can say the same about Goff and Kline -- one is not head and shoulders gifted over the other.

HydroTech: I'm not surprised that Goff was named the starter.

This entire situation is very interesting. Before Dykes has even coached one game as Cal's new head coach it already looks like he's got a QB controversy on his hands. Good luck, Mr. Dykes. Cal fans can be brutal when it comes to QB controversies. Poor Jeff Tedford knows that all too well. Every time Goff makes a mistake, Cal fans will wonder: "What if Kline was our starter? Would Kline have made that throw?" And if Goff makes enough mistakes, we could be hearing a LOT of grumbling from Cal fans who have already determined that Kline is Cal's best QB.

I'm happy for Goff. I hope Kline stays and doesn't transfer. And I'm nervous for Dykes.

LEastCoastBears: It is an interesting choice but one that is not all that surprising given the occasional reports that I have read about the practices. Ultimately, this could just be the familiarity of the system from high school that give Goff the edge. Since we are all not that familiar with Dykes, what is equally as interesting is how much of a leash Goff would have if the offense struggles initially and the Cal fanbase calling for Kline to get a shot. Speaking of Kline, it would not surprise me one bit if he does get a serious look sometimes in the middle of the season since injury/ineffectiveness/QB change is a normal part of college football.

With a new coach and a new system, I would not put that much stock on the uniqueness of having a true freshman starting. We all knew that whoever wins the job, he would be getting his first college football snap in the first game.

Berkelium97: I can't say I'm too surprised.  Based on practice reports and spring ball, Goff seemed to have a better ability to keep the chains moving.  He cannot deliver the big play like Kline can, but our offense has enough weapons (Bigelow, Harper, Treggs) that can generate explosive plays if they get the ball in space.  Having a big-play QB to complement a big-play RB and some big-play WRs is nice, but probably not worth the occasional inconsistency and turnovers.

If Kline improves his ability to move the chains and limits his turnovers, he can win the job before the season is finished (a la LA Tech QB Colby Cameron in 2011).  It is entirely too soon to talk about his decision to transfer.


ragnarok: Ok, Goff might have some familiarity with the system, but this time last year he was preparing to face the likes of Novato High.  Now he's prepping for Northwestern and Ohio State?  That's a pretty big step up.

Still, if the familiarity gives him a bit of an edge in terms of making fewer mistakes, I think that's pretty valuable right now.  There have been a number of games over the past few years where Cal didn't really need a QB who could win the game for us so much as a QB who wouldn't lose it for us.

atomsareenough: I'm surprised, but not completely shocked. I guess I'm surprised that the decision was made as early as it was. I expected to hear the result on Sunday or Monday, after they had a chance to evaluate the next scrimmage. I've thought all along that Goff had a solid chance to win the job, but I would have probably said that Kline was the favorite, so this is a little bit of an upset. You can't say that Goff didn't earn it.

Here are the things that have impressed me so far about Goff (based on what little I've seen):

1) His demeanor. He's completely unflappable. He doesn't get too high, he doesn't get low. He almost looks bored out there. Just goes out and executes. Even in his interviews he just seems so calm and laid back and in control of himself. I think he'll do just fine with the pressure of starting, even as a true freshman.

2) He doesn't do anything poorly. Yes, he doesn't have Kline's arm or Hinder's legs, but his game is extremely well-rounded.

3) He makes good decisions with the football. He gets the ball out quickly and puts it in a good place. He doesn't take too many risks or turn the football over. I think that's a big reason why he won the starting job.

4) He's accurate and consistent. Yes, this is a skill that a QB learn and improve on, it's not inherent. I think Kline was rapidly improving in this area, but Goff has been tops in this metric from day 1, and it's another key factor as to why he was named the starter.

Based on what little I've seen, I probably would have picked Kline due to his big play ability and improving consistency, but at the same time I think there are very good reasons why Dykes would have chosen Goff, and I think there's definitely a good case to be made for the true freshman. I think if this was year 3 or 4 of the Dykes era, maybe they would have gone with Kline for the upside, but every member of the team is learning a new system right now, both on offense and defense, and what they need right now at QB is a guy who can be consistent, not make mistakes, and allow them to execute the offense methodically. Goff is that guy.

Norcalnick: One thing worth pointing out: Anybody good enough to play as a true freshman (or, for that matter, in their first year in the program) tend to be very talented players. Pat Barnes and Kyle Boller both have relatively fond places in my Cal fan heart, even if the teams they played on didn't win a ton of games.

Even being in contention was a strong endorsement of Goff's future, and winning the competition makes it more so. He may not set the world on fire this year, but the odds are good that he will be an impact quarterback eventually.LEastCoastBears:

Just because a guy is the starter in the first game, does not mean that he will get the bulk of the snaps. Case in point, Cal football last year. Maybe this is all just a Jedi mindtrick played by Dykes so Northwestern will prepare for Goff (watching his high school footage) and be surprised when Kline plays the second series on. By the way, Kline didn't miss a tutoring session or anything that we know of? [Okay, it might be too soon to joke about last year.]

LEastCoastBears: Just because a guy is the starter in the first game, does not mean that he will get the bulk of the snaps. Case in point, Cal football last year. Maybe this is all just a Jedi mind trick played by Dykes so Northwestern will prepare for Goff (watching his high school footage) and be surprised when Kline plays the second series on. By the way, Kline didn't miss a tutoring session or anything that we know of? [Okay, it might be too soon to joke about last year.]

Kodiak:I think this is a much different situation from Maynard/Bridge or Robertson/Rodgers.

Coach Dykes is hitching his wagon and his reputation to Jared Goff. There's no reason to start a true frosh QB in order to groom a redshirt frosh to take over later.

We might see Boehm in the Wildcat at the goal line, but I highly doubt we're seeing a lot of Kline unless Goff struggles or is injured. If Goff is going to be the man, then he needs all the snaps and playing time that he can get.

Based solely on practice tweets, it sounds like Kline was more high-risk/high-reward while Goff was steadier and made fewer mistakes.

What I don't know is what the film showed. Perhaps Goff was making better/faster reads and better decisions on each play. It sure seems like Dykes/Franklin want someone who can keep their offense out of third and long. If so, the more accurate thrower trumps the stronger even at the expense of the occasional spectacular play.

With only a couple of weeks before Northwestern, it's hard to see Dykes changing his mind. What will be interesting is how long a leash he'll give to his true frosh QB. Tedford was infamously stubborn with sticking to his chosen starter even during blowout losses or wins. Will Dykes let Goff play through his growing pains or is this going to be an ongoing soap opera of a QB controversy?

Let's hope Jared Goff plays well enough to lay all the uncertainty to rest.JahvidKnowsBest: I'm definitely surprised with the situation, but I can understand (and I applaud) Dykes for his willingness to make a bold move. In my mind, both of these young men can develop into fantastic quarterbacks. In an ideal situation, you want the older guy to be slightly ahead of the younger guy, and each of them to one day earn the right to the lead offense and the team. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

Goff's upside is his consistency, his deep ball, and his general pocket presence and football IQ. He makes the game look easy in a lot of ways. He understands the concept of taking what the defense gives you, and he's not keen on forcing things when they're not there.

Kline gives you a lot, perhaps more raw talent then Goff, but is less refined at this point. Seen from this perspective, Goff, in my mind, clearly gives the offense the best chance of consistently moving down the field, something that we haven't been able to do in recent years primarily because of lack of QB accuracy, misreads, and general poor decision making from the signal caller. We are a strong team athletically, people will be open, we need a guy who can first and foremost consistently deliver the ball to them.

My major concern, and I know I'm not alone in this, is Jared's physical well-being. I think he's a competitor, and I think if he gets off to a good start against Northwestern, builds some confidence, he won't get as rattled as you might think against Ohio State. Physically though, I'm worried about his body taking punishment from guys who are physically much more developed/mature than he is right now. I don't think he's fully grown into his frame yet (he's only what, 18/19?). With an offensive line that hasn't proven itself yet, one can only hope for the best. I'm happy we have a stable of capable backs to help take a significant amount of pressure off of him. I think this offense succeeds if Bigelow becomes the every down, Jahvid Best-esque, electrifying back we all imagine he can be.

Being from Marin County, I would love to see Goff succeed. Cheers to the start of a new season.

atomsareenough: Here's another thought I had after noting Kline's stepped-up performance in the last two practice sessions since the announcement; what if this is at least in some small way a type of Jedi mind trick motivating tactic? Obviously Goff is a legitimate choice to make on his own merits and for the contextual reasons we discussed, but I wonder if Dykes actually told Kline that if he can develop the consistency, the starting job is still in play.

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