BERKELEY -- With one week of spring practice remaining for the California Golden Bears, the battle at quarterback remained the focus of both the coaching staff and fans during the team’s second scrimmage on Saturday. Throughout March, the number of quarterbacks in contention slowly dwindled from five to two, with true freshman Jared Goff and redshirt freshman Zach Kline apparently in the lead.
In the relatively short scrimmage, both Goff and Kline were the only two quarterbacks to take the reigns on three drives -- Goff officially finished 5-for-11 for 90 yards and one TD while Kline went 5-for-6 for 88 yards and one touchdown on a 59-yard pass to 6-foot-6 JuCo transfer Drake Whitehurst.
But despite the general belief that Kline and Goff are in the lead, one should not discount the potential impact that redshirt junior Austin Hinder and redshirt sophomore Kyle Boehm could have in head coach Sonny Dykes’ offense. On Wednesday, both Hinder and Boehm took turns running as an inside wide receiver and as an H-Back -- even catching passes in drills and practicing blocks on receiver screens. Such looks not only provide Dykes and his staff more depth at those positions, but also allow for trick plays utilizing the arms, legs and IQ’s of his quarterbacks lining out wide.
On Saturday, both Boehm and Hinder continued to practice at both wide receiver and at H-Back, but they each also got reps playing quarterback in the scrimmage, with Hinder lead two drives while Boehm took charge of one.
Boehm did not have ample opportunity to showcase his abilities as a signal-caller, finishing 0-for-1 with two rushing attempts for seven yards. However, he did find himself on the field during the scrimmage running routes and blocking downfield as a wide receiver with the second team offense. If Boehm can continue to develop and impress at his new position, it’s hard to think there will not be a double pass designed and executed against an opponent this fall.
Hinder did well enough, leading the offense as a quarterback on his two drives. Through the air, Hinder was 4-for-8 for 54 yards, converting a couple of third-down plays to keep the offense on the field. But, where Hinder was most effective was as a runner. On designed quarterback draws, Hinder found rushing lanes and utilized his speed to pick up yards. Overall, with his legs, he finished with 5 carries for 29 yards and one score. Hinder’s five carries went for 5, 5, 2, 11 and 8 yards -- his 11-yard run came on third-and-nine, while his eight-yard run was for the touchdown. Overall, it became quite clear that the staff values Hinder’s mobility and his ability to make plays, finding ways to pick up first downs. His first drive went for seven plays and ended on a missed 42-yard field goal by Vince D’Amato. His second drive went 75 yards on 11 plays, ending with his scoring scamper, but also costing the Bears starting right tackle Bill Tyndall, who went down with an ankle injury, forcing redshirt freshman Christian Okafor to the front lines.
While Kline and Goff appear to be in a two-man race to quarterback the Bears in 2013, there do seem to be roles for both Hinder and Boehm in this offense. The staff does want to utilize Hinder’s mobility -- perhaps giving him a chance to be a running quarterback. The staff does feel that Boehm possesses the size, speed and football IQ to get on the field as a wide receiver, and both have been used on Big Bone packages down inside the 10-yard line, further allowing for more wrinkles to be drawn into the California Bear Raid going forward.
The fans will surely be watching Goff and Kline for obvious reasons, but do not fall asleep on what the other two guys can do.