SEATTLE, Wash. -- Cal has its fewest penalties of the season, averages over 6.0 yards per play on…
BY THE NUMBERS: Best of a Bad Situation
The debate certainly did not die down in California's 49-17 loss to Oregon State last weekend. In that game, Goff put up pedestrian numbers before being pulled in favor of Kline, who managed to lead the team to two touchdowns -- albeit, against the Beavers' prevent defense. Still, the fans clamored for Kline, and unfairly put a spotlight on Goff despite the many other problems with the football team.
So how did Goff do?
While nobody should be proud of a 41-17 stomping at the hands of the Washington Huskies, Goff's play was not all that bad. When you consider that Goff had burned redshirts starting on the offensive line, a continued lack of support from a run game, and a talented Washington secondary on the opposite side, Goff's performance could be considered a speck of gold in a damp and dark mine.
Against the Huskies, Goff was 32-of-54 for 336 yards and one touchdown. The 6.2 yards per attempt are above average in college football, but his one touchdown to zero turnover ratio can certainly be considered an improvement in trying times. In a hostile environment, Goff managed to stay composed and not turn the football over. Generally speaking, this was probably Goff's best stat-sheet performance to date.
"We've thought all along that he has the chance to be something pretty special, and it's tough when you have two guys who you think are good players, but Zach did a good job giving us some energy last week, but we just feel like Jared's the long-term solution at that position, and so we've got to continue to develop him," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "We're having some growing pains there. We need to be able to move the football better than we are, right now, and it's just got a lot of moving parts, right now, and we've got to get them all in-sync, and we've had a hard time doing that."
The big reason for Goff's success – and perhaps, his improved comfort, despite being regularly under siege -- on Saturday was the emphasis on the deep ball. Of Goff's 54 pass attempts, 14 went beyond 15 yards. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin noted tendencies or weaknesses in the Washington secondary, and had confidence in Goff to call deep pass plays on nearly 26% of his pass attempts.
Going deep, Goff was 6-for-14 for 168 yards, with completions of 28, 28, 32, and 49 yards against the Huskies' defensive backs. Targeting Chris Harper in these situations, Goff was 3-for-8 for 90 yards. Harper finished the game with six catches for 98 yards, moving his career numbers to 99 catches and 1,340 yards. As a side note, his 58 catches this year are just one shy of tying DeSean Jackson's 2006 total of 59 for 10th in school single-season history.
Targeting Bryce Treggs, Goff was 2-for-3 for 60 yards. On the game, Treggs finished with a game-high eight catches for 95 yards. Going deep with his playmakers, Goff was certainly effective. For any Cal fan, this should not be a surprise, given the number of deep passes by Goff that have gone for touchdowns.
The success on the deep passes ultimately forced Washington's DBs to play a bit more off of the line of scrimmage, and Cal took advantage by calling a plethora of slant routes in the second and third quarters. After eight games to work with his wide receivers, Goff showed improved timing and better accuracy, going 6-for-8 for 55 yards on those routes. Of his two incompletions, one was due to the receiver not looking to catch the ball.
"I thought Richard [Rodgers] played great," said Goff. "Richard was telling me he was open, so I had to throw him the ball more, so I did, and he's a great target for me. He played a great game, made some good catches, saved me a couple times."
Rodgers finished the night with seven catches for 71 yards.
Ultimately, Franklin called far less screen passes and stretch plays that are general staples of this offense. Goff performed relatively well on deep routes, which opened more of the short passes.
He still made some errors with forcing balls into coverage and perhaps not feeling the pressure in the pocket. But overall, this was arguably Goff's best performance of the 2013 season, and it was good enough for head coach Sonny Dykes to proclaim Goff as the starter for the rest of the year.
The Bears are 1-7, and no longer eligible for a bowl game. The season is still a disaster, and Dykes is thinking long term. Clearly, in his mind, Goff is the quarterback for the long term.
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