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Cal football: 2014 quarterbacks preview roundtable

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The crew metaphorically (or literally, with the dictionary definition addition) sits down and chats the 2014 Jared Goff quarterbacking situation.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

TwistNHook: So, what do you guys think about the QB position for the 2014 season?

Vlad Belo: Quarterback is probably the least of Cal's worries. I was impressed with Jared Goff's play as a true freshman last year and I only expect him to improve. And with the extra 10 lbs added, Goff is a stronger physical presence in the pocket. That will help. I know many of us feared he would be broken in half last year.

Goff will be good, I am sure of that. I am also sure that he will be underappreciated by a good segment of our fanbase. Because that's just the way we are.

2013 Cal offensive highlights vs Northwestern (via TouchedTheAxeIn82)

Avinash Kunnath: It is the least of Cal's worries and still a decent enough worry. Such is the state of 1-11.

Goff has proven to be durable--he attempted over 40 passes a game in every game which he wasn't pulled and topped 50 passes in half his starts thanks to the absence of a run game. That was with a pretty average arm build. Goff was sacked close to 30 times last season, worked behind makeshift offensive lines, and got hit plenty of times over the year. He lasted the entire year, got a pretty nasty injury from Shayne Skov, and still managed to be back in time for spring camp. If the offensive line takes the necessary steps forward and lowers the pressure on their signal-caller, I expect Goff should make it through 2014 in okay shape.

Now that he's bulked up into college football QB game-shape, it comes down to improving other aspects of his game.

Can he stretch the field vertically, and who can stretch the field for him? Goff did manage to complete pass after pass, but around Pac-12 season his yards per pass attempt started dipping; by the end of the season he was tied-9th in YPA. Now, the football had to get out of his hands faster because of defenses focusing in on a weak O-line and a one-dimensional offense, and none of our wideouts really qualify as burners. This Bear Raid needs to get explosive in order for any Pac-12 team to fear it.

Can he put the ball in the end zone? Goff is a pretty good red zone quarterback, but he only threw 18 touchdowns in total last year, racking up a lot of yards that turned into field goals or no points. Can Goff find the confidence to connect with his targets in stride?

Can he become a semi-rushing threat? Goff is no one's idea of a running QB, but his scrambling was a bit of the haphazard variety in that he scrambled side-to-side rather than cutting forward. Will he feel more confident to move forward this season and pick up extra yards that minimize our 3rd and long situations?

How much will his numbers improve? Make no mistake. 60% completion rate, a near 2:1 TD/INT ratio, and 6.6 YPA is solid enough for a first year QB. What are our expectations for his second season?

Vlad Belo: I'm still mad about the Shayne Skov hit in the Big Game. Really? We couldn't even get THAT called targeting? When we had guys called for less? I'm not saying Skov is the anti-Christ. But under the rules that were SUPPOSED to apply, he should've been ejected.

atomsareenough: Fine, fine. I'll say it: Skov is the anti-Christ.

boomtho: Goff was one of the few bright spots on last year's dismal season, and I think he will show nice growth next year. Goff's success, in my opinion, will be more determined by the offensive line (and, as a knock on effect, the success of the running game) than any progression he makes, with the exception of perhaps improving his red zone efficiency and decision making (and holding on to the dang ball!). At the end of the day, there's a lot I'm worried with next year's Cal team, but QB play (assuming Goff can stay healthy) isn't one of them.

Would it have changed the outcome of the worst Big Game ever? Heck no. But why should Stanfurd get the benefit of the doubt in that situation when..oh, I don't know..Chris McCain didn't for a much less egregious hit in week one against a Northwestern?

But I digress. To get back on topic, Goff is really good so long as he's healthy.

Berkelium97: My biggest concern about the QB position has to do with factors outside Goff's control. Will the offensive line protect him well enough? Will the run game be productive enough to keep opposing defenses from dropping eight into coverage? Will we finally have a credible play-action that gets safeties to bite on the run?

Jared Goff, Austin Hinder, Bryce Treggs: Who is the McLovin of Cal Football? (via Lindsay Brauner)

Avinash Kunnath: The funny thing is we are most secure about Goff but he'd probably be picked close to last in a Pac-12 poll. Brett Hundley, Marcus Mariota, Taylor Kelly, Kevin Hogan, Sean Mannion, Cody Kessler, and Connor Halliday all come in with better rep at this point, although you could probably debate the last two as to overall potential--Kessler doesn't impress me and Halliday throws interceptions to statues.

Question for the panel. Where would you rank Goff among Pac-12 QBs?

atomsareenough: If you take out the last two, which, I think pretty clearly you should, Goff is 6th, which means he's right in the middle of the Pac-12. Add in the fact that he's just a sophomore with a solid skillset and plenty of room for growth and maturation, and he could end up being one of the top QBs in the conference as soon as next year.

Nick Kranz: In terms of obvious things I would like to see Goff improve upon this year, it would be avoiding the rush. Granted, last year the pass rush he faced was often so quick and relentless that there was nothing Goff could do about it. But there were also times (as to be expected from a true freshman starter) in which he might have been able to buy himself more time by stepping in the right direction. If he can add that type of footwork to his game to go along with a hopefully improved line, then the stage could be set for a significant jump in passing efficiency.