By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com
As the clock approached midnight on the last night of August, Jared Goff sat exhausted in the Cal Football media room following what had to be the fastest 4 hours of his life. He had just thrown the ball an eye-popping 63 times, good for 445 passing yards in route to a whirlwind loss to Northwestern in his first college game. You couldn’t blame him if he wasn’t exactly colorful in the postgame presser.
“I didn’t even know I threw it that many times,” Goff explained postgame, very matter-of-factly. “It’s more than I threw in high school, but it didn’t feel like that much more. I was just throwing the ball when I was supposed to, handing off when I was supposed to, you know, it just happened to work out like that.”
On this night, according to head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin at least, Goff was ‘supposed’ to throw the ball a whole helluva lot. Set up in the shotgun for the entirety of the game, Goff orchestrated an offense that operated at a breakneck speed. The 99 plays the Bears ran from scrimmage was the third highest total in Cal history. Not bad for a 18-year-old’s first night of college football, playing against an elite Big-10 team.
Believe it or not, never before has a true freshman started the season as the Bears starting quarterback. Nor has any Cal frosh ever thrown for that many yards in a single game. In fact, only one other quarterback in the history of Cal, Pat Barnes in 1996, has thrown for that many yards in a game before and he needed four overtimes to do so.
“I’m really excited for the future of our offense,” said Goff following his stellar first impression in blue and gold. “You saw in the third quarter how much rhythm we can get and how much our offense can get rolling. I’m super excited about it.”
It is becoming abundantly clear that Jared Goff is much more Ken Dorsey or Joe Montana than current Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Not one to dominate a conversation or bring attention to himself, Goff has already established himself as a cool customer who is content with simply making the right play on each and every down. And beside just one interception that was his fault, Goff did just that. He took the snap and preceded to quickly make the right play, over and over again. Just as Dorsey did in Miami’s heyday during the early 2000’s, Goff utilized his playmakers all night long, spraying the ball around the field to Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs and Brendan Bigelow for smooth, consistent yardage gains.
It is safe to say Sonny Dykes’ signiture Air Raid offense showed up in Berkeley as advertised, much to the delight of the big crowd on hand on a picturesque night at Memorial Stadium. Sonny's young offense seemingly made it their goal to run as many plays as they could in the allotted 60 minute timeframe. It eventually got the the point that the experienced, Big-10 tested defense of Northwestern decided to resort to the type of gamesmanship usually reserved for defenses playing against the vaunted Oregon Ducks. If nothing else, it was a compliment to the Bears new offense that the Wildcats of Northwestern would resort to “allegedly” faking injuries on the field to slow down the Goff/Harper/Treggs “Bear Raid” onslaught.
It wasn’t more than three weeks ago that redshirt freshman Zach Kline, complete with a year of seasoning and a dominate high school career under his belt, was assumed to be the starter on opening night. That never came to fruition, however, as Sonny instead decided to hand the reins over to the cool headed Goff, a son of a Major League baseball player and Cal alum.
Goff’s high school coach at Marin Catholic, Mazi Moayed, has no problem going on record and comparing Goff to Joe Montana and Tom Brady and pegging his understudy as a future NFL’er. After Saturday night, that sort of praise seems to make logical sense, albeit it was just one game.
Yes, Goff technically threw three interceptions on Saturday, and no he didn’t get the W. But what he did do is restore hope in Berkeley that great quarterbacking can and will take place on the Memorial Stadium turf. Now if only he can find a way to steal a victory over Ohio State or Oregon, then the Dorsey comparisons can really begin to pass as the truth.