Cal's Jared Goff
passed for 3,508 yards with 18 touchdowns during his true freshman season. (Matt Cohen/Icon SMI)
It's not often that a quarterback throws for more than 3,500 yards as a freshman and mostly flies under the radar. Yet that's exactly where Cal's Jared Goff stands heading into his sophomore campaign. Goff and the 1-11 Bears took their lumps over the course of 2013, but with coach Sonny Dykes' offense installed and a young roster a bit more experienced, Cal is looking for improvement. That begins and ends with the 6-foot-4 Novato, Calif., product.
Goff, a four-star recruit in class of 2013, according to Rivals.com, was the first true freshman quarterback in school history to start in the season opener. And he came out firing. He threw for 1,306 yards with seven touchdowns in the Bears' first three games, but things were pretty inconsistent from there. Goff was benched at Oregon on Sept. 28 after losing two fumbles. He went 33-of-59 for 504 yards the next week in a 44-22 loss to Washington State. Goff clung onto the starting role for the remainder of the season, and his biggest competition -- Zach Kline -- announced he was transferring to Oregon State in December.
Through the ups and downs, Goff remained relatively unfazed. Chalk that up to the same demeanor that earned him the starting gig in the first place. From a preseason story by Jeff Faraudo of the Mercury News, Goff's dad (a Cal grad who played a few years in MLB) claimed his son was always that way.
"He's wired completely differently than I was," said Jerry Goff, who spent time with the Expos, Pirates and Astros organizations. "He's able to have a short memory and have fun. There were times in my career that weren't fun. If I wasn't playing well, I got concerned, 'Am I going back to Triple-A?'
"He's not like that. He came out of the womb differently. He has a calm demeanor, and that goes a long way to what he has been able to accomplish, particularly at the position he plays."
The words unflappable and nonchalant have been tossed around to describe Goff, and maybe that's contagious. The Bears have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball, and they'll look to Goff to be a leader heading into year two. A majority of the program's key offensive contributors return, including sophomore receivers Chris Harper (70 catches for 852 yards and five touchdowns) and Bryce Treggs (77 catches for 751 yards and one score). Speedy running back Khalfani Muhammad, a talented track athlete who averaged 6.0 yards per carry as a freshman, is also back. Goff told 49ers.com, "It’s really nice to have that kind of camaraderie after going through what we went through last year."
After spending part of the offseason recovering from shoulder surgery
on Nov. 27, Goff entered spring ball healthy. It might be asking too much for the Bears to reach bowl eligibility in 2014, but if they're in contention, it'll likely be because their quarterback is keeping it 100. (Even if he still doesn't really know what that means