GoldenBearReport - The Cal Spring Football Most to Prove Series: Chase Garbers
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The Cal Spring Football Most to Prove Series: Chase Garbers

Welcome to the Cal Rivals Spring Football content series, where we’ve chosen to supplement the traditional unit by unit previews -- still on the way -- with a particular spotlight on individual guys with the most to prove this spring.

First on the list: QB Chase Garbers

…because the ceiling of this team will ultimately be determined by their improvement on offense, if any?

…because he plays the most important position in sports?

…because there’s a highly touted JUCO transfer breathing down his neck?

Take your pick.

In all seriousness, Garbers does have a lot on the line here – after taking over for good at the season’s midway point, he looked increasingly skittish and indecisive toward the end of the year, culminating with a benching in the Cheeze-It Bowl. His value as a runner still can’t really be discounted going forward, but teams will continue to let him squeeze out the occasional first down if he doesn’t show more through the air.

[I’ll spare you the gory statistical details.]

Now, the staff obviously understands that the current level of performance cannot hold. It’s why they shuffled the quarterback coach job and why they brought in Devon Modster for 2019, and part of why they’re looking for two more guys in the 2020 class. No one involved with the program thinks QB1 is locked up, by any stretch of the imagination, and that’s exactly why Garbers enters spring with so much to prove. It is because of that need for improvement that I also selected Modster as the most impactful recruit of 2019 – because he’ll either make Garbers better by providing much needed competition that Brandon McIlwain couldn’t…but either way, better QB play is highly likely come spring, summer, and fall.

Trace's Take: Assessing the Competition

Garbers will face two competitors for his starting job this spring in Devon Modster and Jack Newman, along with a possible fourth in the fall in Spencer Brasch. Here's what Garbers has going for him:

- A winning record as a starter (6-4)

- The top PFF grade as a runner among Pac-12 quarterbacks

- A history of being an accurate thrower (61.5% a year ago, in the high 60s, low 70s in high school). This is something highlighted with successful college QBs

- Handling blitzes (completed 65.3% of his passes when blitzed, along with 7.8 yards per attempt), as more numbers coming at him meant he could find a quick read easily

What he's struggled with:

- Staying in the pocket (he had 39 scrambles, tops among all Pac-12 QBs)

- Throwing to the right (on passes over 10 yards downfield, Garbers was 5-22 for 137 yards, 2 TDs, and 3 INTs). All three of those INTs came in the Cheez-It Bowl.

- Handling pressure (completion percentage dipped to 38% and yards per attempt dropped to 5.4)

In all, he was a freshman going through a college football season for the first time, something that isn't always taken into account when determining future chances for development. That said, Garbers does have to get better, more confident, and more connected with the offense. There were reads missed where he could've run on read plays, reads missed on throws where he took off. Garbers' legs did a lot for the Bears a year ago, this year he has to do more with his arm if he's going to continue being the starter.