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September 7, 2013

Goff Watch: Breaking down every snap for Cal's frosh QB vs. Portland State



True freshman Jared Goff threw for 400+ yards for the second straight game (485 on 33-of-51 passing) Saturday at Memorial Stadium, the second time in the history of the program a Cal QB -- freshman or otherwise -- has thrown for 400+ yards in back-to-back games.

The last? Single season passing yardage record-holder Pat Barnes in 1996.

But just how good (and not-so-good) was the 18-year-old on Saturday? Well, rather than throw QB ratings at you, we're grading every single Goff snap this season, assigning a +1 to positive plays (5+ yard completions, avoiding sacks with good pocket presence, third-down conversions, etc.) a -1 to negative plays (holding the ball too long, poorly thrown balls, bad penalties, etc.) and 0 to everything in between (balls that are dropped, run plays, etc.) to give you the realest assessment possible for Cal's first-ever true freshman to start the first game of the season.



Last Saturday we took at look at Goff in the Bears' 44-30 loss to Northwestern. Today we look at the true frosh in Cal's 37-30 win over Portland State.

Goff finished with a +20 overall on Saturday -- six ticks better than he was week 1 against Northwestern -- with a +13 first-half and +7 second. Here's how it broke down:

THE GOOD:
Goff had THIRTY-ONE positive plays on Saturday (we gave all three of his TDs +2s to give him +34 in the positive column overall).

- 13 of Goff's completions were of the 10+ yard variety, and of those 13, five of them were 35+ yards -- a 37-yard over-the-shoulder rainbow to Chris Harper, a 39-yard third down conversion to Bryce Treggs over the middle, a 50-yarder to Treggs slipping behind the defense, a 62-yarder to Khalfani down the middle of the field, and the 75-yard catch-and-go-and-stop-and-shake-two-defenders-and-go to Richard Rodgers.

- 14 were between 5- and 9-yard completions -- including the seven-yard SportsCenter Top-10 catch by Maurice Harris that he pulled down with one hand in the back of the end zone.

- Five were third down conversions, and all five of those conversions were to different receivers -- Harper, Muhammad, Treggs, Darius Powe, and Harris.

- Both of Goff's forward pitches were successful -- one a 6-yard gain to Bigelow, one a 9-yard gain to Khalfani -- a semi-new wrinkle we only saw once in game 1 (Bigelow fumbled that one out of bounds).

- Two were Goff runs: the 2-yard touchdown run on a QB keeper -- the first rushing TD of Goff's career -- and the 18-yard scamper on the second-to-last drive of the game -- the longest of Goff's career.

- Two were wow plays, and both to the same guy: on his first throwing attempt of the entire game, Goff fumbled the ball, picked it up, and then completed a 12-yard pass to Powe. Wow. On the final drive of the game on 3rd-and-7 from Cal's 34, Goff rifled a pass left to Darius Powe running an outside slant that couldn't have been placed any better. Wow. Cal needed just one other first down the rest of the way to kneel it out. That pass, in effect, iced the game.

THE BAD:

Goff had 14 negative plays (three fewer than in Week 1, and none of which were turnovers).

- First: "The Bad Drive". In the third-to-last drive of the fourth quarter, Goff had his first three-and-out that could entirely be attributed to the true freshman. He threw back-to-back incompletions -- one long and one wide -- followed by a 9-yard completion to Mr. Third Down Richard Rodgers.

- One was a delay of game. On the first play coming out of a change of possession and a TV timeout. That can't happen.

- Eight were just plain misses, and of those eight three were severly overthrown -- to Harper in double coverage, to Rodgers in the back of the end zone with some pressure but not enough that he shouldn't complete it, and again to Harper on the final drive of the third quarter. Head coach Sonny Dykes specifically addressed the misses in his post-game remarks: "There were a lot of easy throws we typically make and execute that we didn't do as well and easily today."

- Three involved sacks that WEREN'T the offensive line's fault. Goff had six on the day, and half were ones that were largely on him -- one in which he held the ball too long, and two in which he left the pocket too early.

THE VERDICT:
Goff didn't turn the ball over which proved to be huge in this game -- instead of this being a stunning loss to an FCS team, it was an also-stunning victory. He was more comfortable on Saturday, especially throwing the deep ball, and he didn't have the same high number of near-interception issues he had in Week 1. He also did it all with Harper not playing most of the second half. There were certainly areas for improvement, including the absence of a hammer-to-nail final drive, but most of this win has to fall on Goff's shoulders. He made big plays, wasn't rattled by bad ones, and had the type of wow moments that the Bears are going to need to make a bowl this season.



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