Zach Kline, Quarterback
San Ramon Valley Wolves
Notes: Zach Kline is the first verbal commit to Cal in the Class of 2012. As a junior, Kline jumped onto the recruiting scene by winning the Nike Football Training Camp QB accuracy competition at Stanford. 2010 was Kline's first full season as San Ramon Valley Wolves' starting QB. His performance earned Kline ESPN RISE/Cal Hi-Sports's selection to California All-State Juniors' 2nd team . Kline is coached by Roger Theder, who also coached Kyle Boehm in the Class of 2011.
There seemed to be mixed reactions to Part I of CGB's Zach Kline Q&A w/ Kyle Bonagura, Regional Sports Editor of Patch.com. Perhaps it was an editorial issue and I shouldn't have divided our conversation into two parts. Frankly, I didn't feel like the Q&A was a downer on Zach. IMHO, Kyle was trying to offer his assessment based on what he saw from Zach in game situations. I appreciate his honesty.
I want to thank Kyle for taking his time to answer our questions. Make sure to follow Kyle @ danville.patch.com for game stories and on Twitter @ PatchSportsEB.
This is Part II of CGB's Zach Kline Q&A w/ Kyle Bonagura. Click here to find Part I.
When is the earliest you see Zach contributing to Cal’s football program?
Kyle: That’s tough. I don’t really know enough about the other guys they have to really say when Zach will really factor in. I think Zach will be a much better college prospect than Kyle Boehm. I’ve talked about it w/ a couple of other guys who cover high school sports in the Bay Area. Boehm was a great high school player, running physical and all that stuff. None of us saw Boehm as a guy who can come in at Cal and play quarterback right away. Zach is a guy you can project. He’s a quarterback in the true sense of the word. He can drop back and throw the ball all over the field. I would expect Zach to be able to contribute before Kyle Boehm, after seeing both of them on the field at the same time on the same day. Zach is a better prospect than Kyle is. I don’t know what that means in terms of when he will be ready to play at Cal. He won’t be ready right away I’ll tell you that much. He struggled in high school last year. To expect him to be the savior at Cal that’s a little unrealistic. He’ll definitely have to redshirt. I think it’ll benefit him to sit another two years probably. Maybe his junior year is realistic. If you had asked me about Southwick or Nottingham, I think those guys were much more college-ready than Zach is. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think Zach has a chance to be a very good player in college. It’s just that you need to show production at the high school level before you can start laying expectations you are going to be a difference-maker at the Pac-10, Pac-12. If you are not dominating in high school, it’s hard to project you as a starter at a major Division 1 school at least right away.
I think all of us understand high school performance definite correlates to success at the college level.
Kyle: It’s not necessarily that success translates. You see a lot of guys who put up big numbers in high school who don’t do anything in college just because of the system they are in. But how many guys do you see who don’t dominate in high school and turn around and be a great college player? That’s even more rare. So until Zach shows he is a dominant player, you kind of have to hold off on him to be a great player right away in college. You just have to give him some time. He’s a smart kid and I think that eventually he can do it. He’s definitely got the physical talent to do it. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.
We kind of jumped ahead to the next question already. What kind of offense does Zach run in high school? What does that kind of offense ask him to run in terms of throws and mobility?
Kyle: It’s a pretty advanced playbook and a ton of options in terms of routes. SRV is very balanced. SRV had a reputation of being a spread pass happy type profile offense. It’s not really the case under Kessler. He’s really changed the offense over the past two years. When Southwick, Corbin Louks, Keller were there they were throwing up the ball 30 times a game. That didn’t happen this year w/ Zach. He probably averaged about 17-22 passes a game. They didn’t throw the ball a lot like at Monte Vista or at Foothill when Sean Manning was there. They didn’t throw the ball the same way they had been in the past in terms of playcalling. They wanted to be more balanced. I think they kind of filtered into the defensive side too. When SRV were using more of the running game on offense I think it kind of made the team tougher. For whatever reason the defense really carried the team last year. SRV wasn’t about their offense. The reason why they made the semifinals was because their defense was so good.
It’s a balanced run-pass offense. They try to establish the run. Until Jordan Weiss broke on the scene late in the season they really struggled to run the ball. I think that really affected Zach especially early in the year. When SRV was struggling running the ball teams didn’t really have to worry about the run game. They focused on what Zach was doing and limited what he could do. SRV was trying to establish a running game and just wasn’t getting it done. Jordan Weiss really came on the scene and turned things around for them late.
Last year was Zach’s first full year at the varsity level. Please summarize your overall evaluation of his performance last year and talk a bit more how he can improve this year.
Kyle: Zach showed signs he can be a really good player. I thought he might have been overwhelmed by the defense he was seeing. Who knows if that’s more of a reflection on the defense he was seeing or an indication on the talent on his team. I am not really sure. If he gets a better handle on his decision-making, doesn’t take as many sacks, gets better w/ TD/INT ratio, he’ll be one of the better quarterbacks in California, if not all the west coast. He has that type of talent. It’s just a matter of putting that together in a game.
In the summer camps Zach is a stud. He can make the throws. He can do all that stuff you need to do physically. When he’s at a pass rush and guys are coming at him, he didn’t adjust all that well last year. I think he’ll be much better this year. It’s just a matter of getting comfortable w/ everything. He should be now because he was at the end of last season. That’ll carry over. Being a senior that should help as well.
Sounds like Zach just needed time to adapt to the speed of the game and get comfortable
Kyle: That’s exactly it. It’s adjusting to the speed of the game and the level of competition. It was a tough transition for him. It took awhile but he’s fine now. It’s the reason why I think it’ll take him some time at Cal before he sees the field. If the varsity level was already a tough adjustment, Zach is going to need some more time to make the next adjustment that’s even more significant.
We also already talked about Kyle Boehm’s Mitty taking on Zach’s SRV last season. Can you compare & contrast these two guys’ skill set?
Kyle: I only saw Kyle play that one time in high school. He was more of a runner in high school. They were running more of the option. He more than often took off and ran rather than sat in the pocket and threw. I don’t know how well that is going to translate at all. I remember watching the game with a couple of colleagues of mine. All of us were talking out loud "He’s going to Cal? The quarterback?" Kyle looked more like a safety than a quarterback. That was the general consensus. Kyle just didn’t throw the ball that much. It’s tough to know how good a guy is at quarterback at the college level when he’s not throwing the ball in high school. I want to remind you that was only one game I was at. So I don’t know what you can really take away from it. I wasn’t really expecting him to be a starting quarterback at Cal. He’s a great athlete and I am sure there’s a way to get him on the field somehow. I just don’t see it [at quarterback].
Zach is going to throw the ball. He fits the mold better as a D1 quarterback just because his skill set is throwing the ball and Boehm’s is running the ball. Boehm’s a better runner.
As far as I understand, the option offense is what Mitty runs. It’s probably what we saw a lot from Kyle Boehm last year. Sounds like you believe Zach is going to be a better fit at quarterback at Cal in the future, provided that he can be groomed, get comfortable w/ the offense, and adjust to the game.
Kyle: It’s tough for Kyle Boehm. I saw him at what might have been the worst game for him last year.
Because of the dominant defense from SRV?
Kyle: Exactly. I just pulled up his stats. He was 5-10, 7 yds, and 2 INTs. He threw 3 INTs all year. So that’s what I’m basing it all off. Against Palo Alto, perhaps the best defense in the state outside of De La Salle, Boehm struggled mightily too. In the final game of the year, Boehm was 1-7 for -2 yds. If you are going to play quarterback in the Pac-12 you have to expect someone to be able to complete one pass for positive yards. It’s hard to compare how well kids will do in high school vs college w/ 100% accuracy. If you look Boehm against good defenses like Serra, Palo Alto, St. Francis, SRV, he didn’t do anything to lead you to believe that this kid can be a Division 1 quarterback. But he’s a good enough athlete. It’s not a good sign. If I was a Cal fan I wouldn’t be doing backfilps because Kyle Boehm is going to be the next quarterback at Cal.
The next question comes from the direction about Zach’s stats during his first year at varsity. They aren’t all that impressive (10 TDs, 8 INTs). Is that just a function of how lacking the talent is at other positions? If he were at a big-time school, how well would he succeed?
Kyle: Well Zach is at a big time high school program. SRV is a big time high school program. They are ranked in the state. They have plenty of talent. Receiving-wise they didn’t have any college receivers, someone they can key in on the outside who can make plays for them. If he were at Monte Vista, he probably throws over 3,000 yds.
W/ Bryce McGovern as one of his receivers right?
Kyle: Right. Bryce was the best receiver in Northern California. If you have talent around like that you’ll benefit from it. He didn’t have anyone close to McGovern and didn’t have anyone close to Dane Turner who was the other receiver at Monte Vista who’s going to UC Davis. SRV also doesn’t run the system Monte Vista runs. Monte Vista’s passing game is much more sophisticated and has been much more successful in the past. If you put him there his numbers will be a lot better. If you put him at California High or De La Salle his numbers would’ve been a lot better. At the same time, he’s gotta step up his game too.
With his interception totals from last year as a result of his poor throws or mistakes by his teammates?
Kyle: That’s tough. You can’t really say for sure. You don’t know if the guy ran the wrong route. I’d rather not speculate. I don’t know and I don’t want to pretend like I do.
What are some of the best individual plays or performances you’ve seen from Zach?
Kyle: Zach played really well against Monte Vista in the playoffs. I was definitely impressed w/ the game against Monte Vista. He didn’t turn the ball over. He had a TD. He threw about 200 yds. He managed the game well, and SRV won. That’s most important. You want to win on the road in the playoffs against the biggest rivals and the team they lost to two weeks before. To be able to come back and beat Monte Vista was very impressive. That’s the one game you look at and say this kid has got something special. There wasn’t any other games out there you say wow this kid is going to be a stud. There were flashes in the Mitty game where Zach made big plays, but he didn’t put up the stats. It’s hard to completely understand the game from stats though because there are so many variables you can’t control for. At the same time they are indications of how well you’ve performed. It doesn’t mean that you are not a good player if you don’t have the stats, but it’s hard to see what kind of player you are going to be if you are not actually producing.
Definitely. Sounds like you’ve talked to Zach a bunch. What strikes you the most about him when you interview him?
Kyle: He’s just a real nice kid. He’s always happy to talk. He understands that quarterback is the face of the team and he’s got to take responsibility of how the team plays. He’s up to that challenge. He’s got the mental make-up that makes me believe that he can be a leader. He puts things in perspective pretty well. He understands the game. He understands that a team is going to win and a team is going to lose. Zach is always a good kid to talk to. Definitely will be happy for him at the next level. Zach is the kind of the kid you root for. You want to see kids like Zach succeed.
Once again, many thanks to Kyle Bonagura for taking the time to answer our questions. Don't forget to follow Kyle @ danville.patch.com and on Twitter @ PatchSportsEB if you want to find up-to-date game stories and Zach's performances in the upcoming football season.
All the best to Zach and his future at Cal. Go Bears!