Cal Football: Chase Garbers & Offense Try To Build on Ole Miss Game

Photo by Jennifer Buchanan, USA Today

Jeff Faraudo

Prior to last week at Ole Miss, these were Cal quarterback Chase Garbers’ passing totals for his previous three games against FBS opponents: 93 yards, 111 yards, 129 yards.

So don’t tell me you weren’t at least a little surprised when the red-shirt sophomore unleashed a 357-yard, four-touchdown performance as the Bears improved to 4-0 with a 28-20 victory at Oxford, Miss.

As the No. 15 Bears (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) prepare to face Arizona State (3-1, 0-1) on Friday night at Memorial Stadium, offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin insists he saw this coming. Or at least hoped it was.

“He just was able to kind of cut loose, and he treated Saturday more like what we see every day in practice,” Baldwin said this week. “For those who have never stood behind an offensive line and seen (the defense) barrel down, sometimes it takes a little time. Sometimes it just takes getting over a couple humps.”

Garbers, always low-key and determined to share credit, says his performance against Ole Miss was nothing more than the offense executing properly.

“With the execution we had on Saturday, anything is possible,” Garbers said. “Our wideouts were making spectacular plays. Offensive line was protecting and punishing in the run game. Our running backs were running hard. And I was completing the ball. So execution was on par.”

He noted they did that in the second half of the comeback win at Washington, but otherwise said it’s been spotty.

At Ole Miss, he said, “We had great confidence from the offense going into the game and it created a certain mindset for us. We kept executing all game long.”

Well, not exactly.

Cal built a 28-13 with 9 minutes left in the third quarter then did not score on its final five possessions of the game. The Bears managed just two first downs in the fourth quarter as the Rebels gradually took the game’s momentum.

“We kind of hit a lull in the fourth quarter with that knockout punch that we keep harping on,” Garbers said.

The Bears also failed to deliver the KO a week earlier after scoring 20 first-quarter points against North Texas. They managed a field goal the rest of the game.

Baldwin says it’s important to remember Garbers is still a young player. He turned 20 just three months ago.

“His body of work in terms of win-loss record is better than people sometimes give him credit for,” Baldwin said.

Consider this:

-- Garbers is 10-4 in his first 14 games as Cal’s starting quarterback, thanks in part to a terrific defense.

-- Jared Goff was putting up super-natural passing stats at this stage of his career, but the Bears were just 3-11 in his first 14 starts, thanks in part to a terrible defense.

We all understand that Garbers is unlikely to ever assemble the passing numbers Goff did at Cal — the offenses are dramatically different.

But Baldwin knows what Garbers has achieved so far didn’t happen all at once.

“He’s going to get over the hump with some of the things he did on Saturday but he’s been doing a lot of good things well before this.”