Cal's Goff looks to show off new freedom at line in opener
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Jared Goff is excited to show off his new-found freedom at the line of scrimmage.
After a prolific first two seasons as California's quarterback, Goff has been given the keys to the offense in his third year with the ability to change plays whenever he sees fits.
Goff will get to show off that new responsibility when the Golden Bears open their season Saturday against Grambling State. Goff said he is quite comfortable with the increased role given to him by offensive coordinator Tony Franklin after doing it all spring and summer and his teammates like what they have seen.
''It definitely shows up when you see us making checks at the line,'' receiver Bryce Treggs said. ''In our early years, Coach Franklin didn't really have the trust and he wasn't comfortable in us checking different routes at the line. Now he's a lot more comfortable with us and gives us a lot more freedom.''
The Bears hope that will lead to even more success and help them get back to a bowl game for the first time since 2011 and into contention in the Pac-12 North.
Goff has put up staggering numbers in two years in the pass-happy system. He has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 7,481 yards, 53 touchdowns and only 17 interceptions. He ranks in the top 10 in completions, yards and touchdown passes since starting college ball.
But coach Sonny Dykes believes Goff can do even more.
''I think everybody will see an improved Jared Goff and he was a very good player last season,'' Dykes said. ''He just has a better understanding of the offense, a better sense of timing, has a better understanding of situational football and the decisions he needs to make.''
Here are some things to watch when Grambling State visits Cal:
RUN TO DAYLIGHT: As much publicity as Cal gets for its passing offense, the running game should be potent too this season. Daniel Lasco is back after leading the team with 1,115 yards rushing last season and scoring 14 touchdowns. Vic Enwere and Tre Watson also should get plenty of chances to carry the ball, which should take pressure off Goff.
''We need to be able to run the ball,'' Dykes said. ''For us to make that next step, we have to improve our run game and be more consistent in our run game. We made great strides last year.''
STEPPING UP: Playing a Pac-12 team is a big step up in competition for FCS Grambling State. The Tigers have lost all 13 games they have played against FBS teams since 1996, getting outscored by more than 34 points per game. Grambling's last game against a power conference team came in 2012, a 56-0 loss to TCU.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: With projected starting center Matt Cochran dismissed from the program after spring ball, the Bears were on a search for a replacement all summer. Dominic Granado ended up winning the job after sitting out last year as a junior college transfer. Granado spent last year working as a tackle but did well back at center for the shotgun-heavy offense.
''We had very few bad snaps at all fall camp,'' Dykes said. ''Probably as few as I've been around.''
BAND ON THE FIELD: One of the highlights of the game figures to be the halftime performance of the Grambling marching band. The group has performed at the Super Bowl, presidential inaugurations and Rose Bowl parades and is widely considered one of the best in the nation with its high-stepping energy.