Cal Football: Who is going to be the starting QB in 2013?

We've finally reached #1 on the top 10 burning offseason questions and it is the one that has been on everyone's mind since day 1 of the offseason. Who do we see under center on August 31st?

Nam Le: Based on what I've heard from people who have been at 7-on-7s, Goff is quickly accumulating buzz, and is generally considered a legitimate, legitimate contender for the job. Those comments have generally lauded his soft touch and accuracy in the short game, in particular.

On the other hand, I have heard very little regarding Hinder, and based on what I saw at spring, I'd think he's falling into the third position.

So, that really leaves us with two, in my eyes. Goff, or the favorite for most fans, Zach Kline.

Without yet knowing how Goff carries his new frame - reportedly up to 205 - and plays in fall camp, I'm still sticking with my original prediction: Start Kline, Sit Hinder, Redshirt Goff. There's just not enough reason for me to think we should start Goff right away and rush him, and I am still tantalized by the high ceiling that Kline brings, even if there are some occasional hiccups. That being said, with a bigger frame, #16 has eliminated one of the major drawbacks to playing him as a true freshman...so he's definitely gaining ground.

As to how well that quarterback plays - whether it's Kline or Goff or Hinder or whoever - that's still up in the air, and dependent on the line and running game. All the reports say Bigelow and Tyndall will be good to go, but we won't get a sense of how the full offense works until fall camp opens. If Bigelow shows clear rust - or, god forbid, gets hurt again - it might lower my expectations for QB play in 2013.

Still, I feel very confident in saying that a new Cal passing yardage record will be set this year, and possibly a new single season touchdown record, too. From what I can tell, the current benchmarks are 3499 and 31, respectively, which shouldn't be too difficult.

Vlad Belo: I believe the quarterback will be Zach Kline and I will continue to believe that until Coach Dykes announces otherwise. Regardless of what we hear about the 7-on-7s, I will continue to believe it's Kline based on what I saw in the spring game. To my eyes, Kline was the best quarterback of the Klindergoff trio. All three of them showed me flashes of good, but Kline still came out ahead in my view.

How will he play out of the gate? I am not expecting the "wow" factor, which is the way I felt when I saw Aaron Rodgers play his first game at Cal in 2003. I'm not even sure I'm expecting to feel the same way I did when Nate Longshore played his first game as Cal starting QB in 2005. I'm expecting what you'd expect from a redshirt freshman quarterback with lots of talent and no experience: flashes of brilliance and a bunch of mistakes. What we can hope for is that the mistakes are not of the turnover variety.

HydroTech: I think a lot of Cal fans might be in for their first disappointment with the Dykes regime when Goff is named the starting QB over fan-favorite Kline. Cal needs a tall QB who gets the ball out of his hands quickly and can throw the ball in tight spaces over the middle. It appears as if Goff exhibited during the spring that he can do all that hence why he was the front runner for the starting QB job all along. Without any new evidence proving otherwise, I think he maintains that top spot. You start the player who gives you the best chances at winning, even if it's a true freshman over a rocket-armed red-shirt freshman.

Berkelium97: I would not be surprised to see Goff take the starting role. Here is my reasoning.

Throughout spring we heard the staff praising Goff's ability to move the chains with his great accuracy on short routes. Give him screens, slants, curls, or drags and he will deliver a wonderfully accurate ball. Kline's strength is his accuracy on deep routes. No one on the team can deliver a 50-yard bomb like he can. But how much does the Dykes-Franklin offense actually call for deep passes?

In 2012 the LA Tech offense completed 359 passes. A whopping 210 of these completions covered fewer than 10 yards. This is 58.5% of completed passes, an unusually large percentage (it was 61.7% in 2011 and 60.6% in 2010). Here is the same measure for several of the conference's top offenses last season: Arizona: 51.2%, Oregon 55.1%, USC 53.1%, Oregon State 49.5%, UCLA 55.2%. Not surprisingly, the LA Tech number is close to the percentage we see in Mike Leach's Air Raid at Washington State, 59.5%. Like the Air Raid, the Bear Raid should call for a disproportionate number of short passes, where Goff excels. If Goff continues to demonstrate consistency in moving the chains with his mastery of these types of passes, he should have a good chance of earning the starting nod. Dykes and Franklin have repeatedly said they need consistency at this position this year, due to the youth on offense and inexperience with the Bear Raid. Goff has the skillset to fill that need.

NorCalNick: I have exactly zero clue who will be named the starter. I think I have collectively seen Klindergoff attempt something like 10 passes in practice, and as a result can't begin to have Nam's level of insight.

What I find interesting about this three headed quarterback race is what it may or may not say about Cal's depth at the position. Are the Bears in a position of choosing between two or three players ready to perform as at least average Pac-12 quarterbacks? If so, they are in an enviable position. Maynard, Riley, Longshore, Rodgers . . . every single one of them missed time with an injury or two, and so in all likelihood we'll see the two quarterbacks that don't win the competition on the field at some point, whether this year or next.

That is especially true if the offensive line doesn't improve or if Coach Dykes is set on using the quarterback as a threat to run. Cal hasn't had much in terms of quarterback depth since 2003 or so, but it's an underrated aspect of a successful team.

Scott Chong: On paper, it makes sense to start Kline with Hinder backing up and save Goff's eligibility with a redshirt.

But Dykes/Franklin keep mentioning that they'll start the guy who can consistently move the chains. Even though Kline has the more dynamic arm which allows him to make more "wow" throws, he'll have to show that he can consistently make the easy throws. Like others have said, accuracy and timing appear to be more important than pure arm strength for the new Bear Raid offense.

Besides the physical aspect of the position, I'm curious if we have any gamers on our roster. Fair or otherwise, there's a perception that many of the recent Cal quarterbacks whose names don't rhyme with Baron Lodgers weren't exactly at their best during clutch situations.

Whoever wins the starting job, I don't expect them to blow the gates off Memorial from Day 1. But, I'm willing to be surprised. Historically, most freshman quarterbacks go through some serious growing pains as they adjust to Pac-12 play. What might be different in this case is the switch to a simplified uptempo attack. There shouldn't be a whole lot of paralysis by analysis. If they pick the right guy, the design of the offense should help him gain confidence right away.

I'm okay with young mistakes. We've seen plenty of those even from so-called senior quarterbacks, frankly. I'd just like to see us make the routine plays that are available to us and see our guy grow into the position with each game.

Vlad Belo: Who was the last true freshman to start at QB for Cal? Do we have to go all the way back to Kyle Boller in 1999? And before him, Pat Barnes in 1993? (Albeit just one game; thanks, Gilby.) Neither one of those guys, both highly touted recruits, was an instant QB savant. I know it makes me sound like a "get off my lawn" guy, but I find it difficult to imagine a true freshman like Goff coming in and wresting the job away from Kline and Hinder. If Goff proves me wrong, I'll be even more highly intrigued about what his future at Cal will bring.

Sam Fielder: So if I have this correct, Hinder has the age, experience (albeit slight) and athleticism, while Kline has the arm and Goff has the accuracy...they all should be equal in terms of knowledge of the playbook, but Goff may be most comfortable having run a similar offense in HS.

I don't know, I think most people, me included, would like for Kline to win the job and play well simply because we've invested time/fandom in him as the savior of the program. But really, if one of the other guys comes in and it really is no question that they ought to be starting, then I think we have to play them and move forward and if we win, then I don't think anyone will care.

Who starts? I agree with Nam and Scott that most logical move is to Start Kline, Sit Hinder, and Redshirt Goff.

What about you, what do you think? Who should be the starting QB? Who will be the starting QB?

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