Cal Football: Protecting Bears' Valuable Commodity -- Chase Garbers

Jake Curtis

Cal quarterback Chase Garbers is working on one of the most important ingredients to the Bears’ success: protecting himself.

A healthy Chase Garbers means an available Chase Garbers, and an available Chase Garbers means success for the Bears, or at least a better chance for success.

“That’s what we talk about: How can you protect yourself and get down a little bit early,” Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin said in the video below. “Just making sure the only time you got to be a little bit leery of that is on third and fourth downs where you don’t want to get into the feet-first slide early. We also talk about diving forward and eating dirt that way rather than feet-first because the refs will spot it short [on a feet-first slide].”

Baldwin even critiqued a couple of Garbers’ slides during the Stanford game that weren’t as safe as he would like.

“A couple were good clean slides and couple were kind of those half-slides, which leave your head and upper body a little bit exposed,” Baldwin said.

Yes, there are practice drills for quarterbacks to work on how to get down properly, and Garbers has practiced the technique.

However, Garbers believes simply playing games helps a quarterback learn when and how to protect himself.

“I think through just the experience of playing, there’s got to be a certain motion of getting down and protect yourself, not having your head and shoulders exposed,” he said. “There’s certain drills you can do, but I think it just goes along with playing experience.”

Those get-down drills and the need for Garbers to protect himself have been emphasized lately.

Garbers has twice been knocked out of games with injuries this season, and Cal lost both games after he was sidelined in the second quarter of those contests. The Bears also lost three of the four games in which he did not play at all as he recovered from his shoulder injury sustained Sept. 27.

The Bears have won all five games in which Garbers has been available for more than a half.

Garbers ran the ball 13 times against Stanford and rushed for a game-high 72 yards, including 16 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

Baldwin did not anticipate Garbers running that often, as he noted in the video, but the situation called for it.

“They were just presenting some things in the five-wide [formation] that allowed for light boxes [in the Stanford defense],” Baldwin said, “and a number of them were actually QB draws.

“So I thought if they are going to keep playing that structure, we’re going to sneak in a few more QB draws. And he was pretty much productive on every one of them.”

And he didn’t get hurt.

“I just wanted him to protect himself when he did [run],” Baldwin said. “It you run five times but you lower your shoulder five that’s worse than if you run 13, 14, 15 but you just protect yourself.”

The art of protecting yourself is critical for a quarterback, and it is critical to Cal’s success.