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2016 Cal Football Year in Review: Quarterback

Where the plural, quarterbacks, does not apply!

NCAA Football: California at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

In a few years when we look back at the 2016 season and Davis Webb is happily enjoying a career in the NFL, we might sit back with a smile. Webb came in with fairly high expectations and from a statistical perspective delivered in nearly every way. However a simple flip of the coin can aptly illustrate the 2016 season for Davis Webb as Bear Raid commander in chief.

When Davis chose to come to Cal he took a risk, passing on Colorado who was in the weaker division of the Pac-12, to come to a team arguably entering a rebuilding year. The one thing that Webb could count on was volume and he would get just that. Only one pass the entire 2016 season was thrown by a player not wearing #7 this year and that was by Dylan Klumph, our punter. Webb led the nation in attempts, topping the charts with a ridiculous 620 passes thrown and was second in the nation in passing yards behind former teammate Patrick Mahomes. If you factor in his twelve interceptions, Webb averaged around 51 attempts per interception which is a figure most teams would be happy to take.

The other side of the coin is that the timing of those interceptions cost Webb and the Bears a chance at a bowl game. San Diego State, Oregon State and Arizona State were all winnable football games where the Bears had the ball in the hands of their offense and Davis Webb couldn’t get the job done. There were also several games, most noticeably the stretch of USC, Washington, Washington State and Stanford, where the offense disappeared and what had once looked like an unstoppable unit felt absent.

Whether it was Davis Webb’s hand injury that slowed down the Bears or perhaps the loss of Webb’s favorite target for several games, the Bears offense was frustrating in its inconsistency. Webb played a valuable role in filling the gap between Goff and the next leader of the Bear Raid but also could have curbed the development of some younger quarterbacks who lost a year of experience while sitting on the sideline. Let’s take a look at the season in review!

Statistics: Where infamous “Pooch Punts” are included

Davis Webb’s statistics this past season were nothing short of stellar and I am not just talking about his 39 yard punt average. Webb became the second Cal quarterback ever to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. He led the conference in passing yards, ranked second in the conference with 37 touchdowns and second in passing completions.

Webb also remarkably led the conference in interceptions which is for the most part forgivable with the sheer volume of passes he threw all year. Often forgotten is Webb’s impact on the ground, where he racked up six touchdowns and provided a new look for the Bears in goal line situations. While Webb didn’t provide the running option that many are hoping future Cal quarterbacks will in the Bear Raid, his mobility at the position was a welcomed upgrade over Jared Goff.

Best Game: Texas

Without a doubt, Davis Webb’s best game of 2016 came when the Bears upset eleventh ranked Texas. Davis Webb not only put the Bears ahead with just under four minutes to go but he played a nearly flawless game. He would finish with 396 yards passing and four touchdowns on the night. Later he would mention he had some extra motivation headed into the matchup courtesy of Longhorns defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and Cal fans got a look at the competitiveness of their new quarterback.

This game would also be responsible for many Cal fans getting stars in their eyes when watching the 2016 version of the Bear Raid. Reflecting back on the game, it is very clear now Texas did not deserve to be ranked eleventh but credit to the Bears for pulling off a huge upset victory at Memorial. Sometimes it is nice to be reminded we can have nice things.

Worst Game: Oregon State

It wasn’t necessarily known during the game but after this disappointing loss, Cal fans would find out Davis Webb injured his hand and could barely grip the football. Webb was understandably awful, missing wide open receivers by several yards and under throwing Demetris Robertson on a crucial third down play in overtime. Ultimately Webb’s inefficiency and inability to throw the football rendered the Bears offense one dimensional.

Webb would finish 23 of 44 with 113 yards passing and one interception. His quarterback rating on the evening was an abysmal 19. Many questions were hurled the coaching staffs direction about his hand injury and if Webb should have remained in the game. Hindsight being what it is, the Bears suffered a rough loss before their bye week that would ultimately cost them their chance at a bowl game.

Final Thoughts

The Bears were fortunate to land someone of Davis Webb’s ability this past offseason after spending the spring with presumptive starter Chase Forrest. It is safe to say the Bears record last season would have been much worse without Webb deciding to spurn Colorado for the Bears.

As Webb heads to the NFL (he is currently ranked as the seventh best quarterback prospect), many of us in the Cal community might find ourselves thinking what might have been pairing his talent with a better defense. For the future, Bear fans will have to take comfort with their last two quarterbacks finding their way into the professional ranks.