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Cal football 2014 position reviews: Quarterbacks AND LOVING IT!

Let's take a ponder on the quarerbacks?

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Avinash Kunnath: I like this Jared Goff kid. Think he has a future at Berkeley.

LeonPowe: @I'd still like to see what Zach Kline can do.@

Leland Wong: Insert a comedic line that's dismissive about Goff's abilities and the funniest part of this Roundtable.

We all saw how talented Goff was. I mean, he friggin' broke 11 school records this year according to He displayed some nice deep throws and some gorgeous touch-pass touchdowns that qualified for any highlight reels. Even when Goff had an off day, he still put up some pretty solid stats. We all witnessed this stellar play, so I'm not going to get into it because I think we all have mostly praise for him. I'll let the others discuss him.

Instead, I'll talk a bit about my thoughts on Luke Rubenzer. Overall, I was generally pleased with the Rubenzer experiment. The shock factor and his running ability made him a tremendous asset against Northwestern. He was perhaps our most reliable short-yardage back and could frequently help jump start a stalled offense, so I'm okay with burning his redshirt. Besides certain issues in the Big Game, my biggest qualm with the Rubenzer usage is that I wish he had a bit of a more carefully defined role. Rather than using him only on designed quarterback runs, use him on read option plays so the defense can't key in on him. As a true freshman, his occasional passing plays should have been kept mostly limited--keep his reads on the same side of the field and use more roll-outs or bootlegs so he can fall back on his running.

Still, overall I'm happy with the way Rubenzer was used. I presume Goff is smart and mature enough to not take Rubenzer's play as a slight; Rubenzer was needed for very specific short-yardage situations. Goff should not be any more offended than a speedy running back would be when a big powerback gets subbed in. Thus, using Rubenzer provided a spark to the offense, helped convert some 3rd-and-shorts, and helped get him acclimated to the college game for the day when Goff inevitably leaves.

And I really really hope that LeonPowe's comment doesn't cause people to bring up Goff vs. Kline again. Please, for the love of any and all the gods.

boomtho: This is an easy one to answer! I think Goff did a fantastic job this year. He was top 25 in QB rating, and in terms of counting stats, he's obviously pretty ridiculous - 3rd in yards, 35 TD's to only 7 picks, top 40 in yards per attempt. He's pretty darn good! Beyond the number, he showed much better agility/ability to escape pressure, a better sense of going through his progressions, and the same trademark accuracy and touch on deep balls.

Rubenzer also did a decent job this year given the tough circumstances he was usually in. He was quite an effective short distance runner, showing nice agility and ability to squeeze through holes. Passing wise, he's obviously a work in progress, though it's really tough to judge him given he's presumably playing with a very small subset of the playbook.

Nick Kranz: Before the year began, I had a specific skill I wanted to see Jared Goff develop: I wanted to see him improve his ability to manipulate the pocket and avoid pass rushers. His freshman year proved that he could generally make the throws and make the right decision. But Cal's offensive line wasn't so good that Goff could regularly sit back in the pocket and do whatever he wanted. He had to learn how to avoid the ineviable pressure that was going to come his way.

And I think he did that. Cal ended the season having allowed 27 sacks - 2.25/game. That's good for 82nd in the nation, which is hardly elite. But that's six less sacks than Cal allowed last year. Plus you have to consider that Cal was 5th in the country in pass attempts, and that the Bears regularly faced some of the very best defensive lines and pass rushers that college football has to offer.

True, Cal's offensive line was almost certainly better this year. But Goff's ability to move his feet and use his blockers improved dramatically. Last year, Cal struggled to throw the ball deep because Goff didn't have the time or the ability to avoid the rush. This year he was able to buy enough time to allow routes to develop, and Cal's offensive succeeded as a result.

TwistNHook: It's impossible to determine whether the usage of Rubenzer was appropriate given that we will not know what 2018 looks like until 2018. That is the year we COULD have gotten if we did not burn his redshirt this year. We will not know until 2017 or so whether we would have needed him more in 2018 than 2014. It may be a situation where Ross Bowers is domination and not having Rubenzer will not matter. It may be a situation where not having him in 2018 is disastrous like Pat Barnes (that reference makes sense, right?).

If Goff plays for 2 more years at Cal, then Rubenzer will only have 1 year after that to be the starter. As much as I'm sure he loved getting playing time now, in the long run he may want 2018 over 2014, because then he could have potentially 2 starting seasons instead of 1.

So, given that parameter, let's see what we got in 2014 that'll preclude us from getting anything in 2018.

Date Opponent Surface Result Rush Yards Pass Yards Plays Total Yards Yards/Play
08/30/14 Northwestern Grass W 31-24 48 19 16 67 4.19
09/06/14 Sacramento St. Turf W 55-14 34 84 10 118 11.80
09/20/14 @ 12 Arizona Turf L 45-49 8 0 6 8 1.33
09/27/14 Colorado Turf W 59-56 0 0 1 0 0.00
10/04/14 Washington St. Turf W 60-59 0 0 0 0 -
10/11/14 Washington Turf L 7-31 Did not play
10/18/14 14 UCLA Turf L 34-36 8 7 3 15 5.00
10/24/14 + 3 Oregon Grass L 41-59 48 7 12 55 4.58
11/01/14 Oregon St. Turf W 45-31 -1 0 2 -1 -0.50
11/13/14 @ 24 Southern California Grass L 30-38 3 0 1 3 3.00
11/22/14 Stanford Turf L 17-38 60 49 21 109 5.19
11/29/14 Brigham Young Turf L 35-42 -1 0 1 -1 -1.00
Totals 207 166 73 373 5.11

We got 200 rush yards and 166 pass yards. Those numbers in a vacuum seem extremely pedestrian, but I do think he was instrumental in helping Cal win several games, such as NW. He was only used in really 4 out of the 12 games, which is not that much. Between Az and UCLA he was in 10 total plays. His usage in the Big Game, where he got 21 plays and was in for large chunks of the 2nd half, was extremely quizzical to me (unless Goff was hurt).

What he did well was run. He had 52 rush attempts to 21 pass attempts. When he came in most people expected him to run and yet he was actually able to get decent yardage for the most part. Everytime he came in and I was near ATQ's Takimoto in the stands (I move around a lot so I'm not always near him when Rubenzer came in), we'd joke about how the D should expect the run up the middle. Then, he'd run up the middle. And get decent yardage!

If he can actually get some better passing ability out there, it'd help his running. He did not strike me as an amazing passer, but he's also a true freshman. Not everybody is a Jared Goff out there. What are your guys' thought on Rubenzer's usage?