The guy facing the toughest circumstances on Friday at Memorial Stadium handled himself with the kind of grace and confidence any coach would want in his quarterback.
Zach Kline didn’t get the starting call from first-year coach Sonny Dykes. That went to true freshman Jared Goff, who did just enough in the areas that matter to win the assignment.
But with video cameras and tape recorders rolling, Kline faced the media after practice, projected a winner’s attitude and said all the right things.
“Definitely, it’s disappointing. I know I’m a good quarterback. I know I can win games and I can lead this team to where we want to go,” Kline said without bitterness. “In the same breath, I’m going to support Jared because that’s what a good teammate is going to do. At any moment, I could get in the game.”
If and when that happens, Kline said he will be ready to “be the best quarterback in the nation” because “that’s what a backup has to do.”
“This competition is not over. That’s how I have to keep my mentality,” he said. “It was definitely tough, but it’s just another challenge. In challenges you become better.”
Presumed since last November to be the heir to the quarterback job, Kline got the news early in the day, then came out and delivered what the coaches called one of his best practices of fall camp.
“You could tell he was raised good. He’s a team guy and he wants to win and he wants to win at Cal,” offensive coordinator Tony Franklin said. “We told him this is a funny business. There’s lot of quarterback stuff that goes on. He’s got to be ready and I think he will.
“Today showed you that. He came out and he performed well. He had great attitude and great vibe. I think he’ll be Jared’s supporter and at the same time he’ll be ready if anything happens to come in to play.”
Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.