Sonny Dykes’ decision to split reps in practice this week between quarterbacks Jared Goff and Zach Kline was the right thing to do.
And the smart thing.
After visiting Tuesday post-practice with both players, it’s clear each has benefited from the arrangement.
Goff has been given a gentle reminder that he must continue to hone his game, even after the true freshman delivered such prolific numbers through the Bears’ first three games. Goff certainly has kept a good head on his shoulders the past month, but this type of push for a young player is always a good thing.
And Kline, once expected to be the starter this season, has a new sense of excitement, a renewed belief in what is possible after getting the chance to take over late in the first quarter of Saturday’s 55-16 loss at Oregon.
More important, he is sent a message that the coaching staff values him and wants him to remain at Cal to compete and help his team.
Goff said it took him about one day to dismiss Saturday’s performance in the rains at Oregon, during which he accounted for two of the Bears’ four lost fumbles on their first four possessions.
“Sunday was a little rough, but after that … I came out and practiced (Monday) and I was fine,” Goff said. “I was disappointed, just upset at myself. After that, I was over it.
“All my family and friends were very supportive. They said don’t worry about it, just move on. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo
Goff said he experimented Sunday with wearing a glove on his throwing hand. He wet the glove and the ball, attempting to simulate rainy conditions, and came away convinced he could use the glove in a game, if weather was bad.
“It felt great. I was fine with it,” he said. “I’ve never really used it before, but if I ever need to use it I know I can. That was the main part of it.”
Asked if the issue suggests he has small hands, Goff laughed and raised his right hand for all to see. Fairly normal looking for a 6-foot-4 teen-ager.
“You want to measure my hand you can go ahead,” he said, smiling. “I’ve never had this issue in the past. It’s just something I need to work on, like anything else.”
The rains pregame Saturday were typical Oregon stuff — steady but not terribly heavy. Then, just as the game was about start, the monsoon arrived. Heavy rains mixed with a swirling wind.
“I couldn’t get a grip, literally and figuratively,” Goff said. “Just trying to focus as much as I could, and at the time it was probably best they put Zach in. I couldn’t hold onto it and he was holding onto it pretty well. He did a good job when he came in.”
Likewise, Goff is taking it very much in stride that the coaches are giving Kline a share of the first-team reps this week. Asked if he believes the decision is a motivational ploy, Goff said, “That might be part of it, but Zach’s a great player and he’s always going to be pushing me.”
For Kline, the opportunity has widened his smile and put a bit of spring in his step. “It’s been awesome,” he said.
“There is an opportunity here, it’s refreshing,” he said. “You run out here and it’s a little bit different. Everytime you throw the ball, it’s a little bit different. Every rep is a little bit different.”
Kline said he’s trying to learn from his mistakes on Saturday, including getting a better handle on his progressions during a pass play.
He said he didn’t know Monday until just before practice that he’d be getting reps with the first team. “I appreciate that because you have no time to think about it, you just go do it,” he said.
Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin has provided the two quarterbacks little in the way of verbal feedback so far this week, Kline said.
“If you mess up, they’re going to say something,” he said. “If they don’t say anything, that’s when you know you’re on Tony’s good side. Goff and I have not been yelled at yet.”
Kline said his experience at Oregon was nothing like what he’d long envisioned his college debut might be. He was signaling in plays from the sideline in the first quarter, doing all he could to avoid drowning.
“It was crazy,” he said of the rain. “It was like you had your head under a shower head.
“All of a sudden, `Kline, you’re in.’ What? I am? OK, let’s do this.”
Kline immediately began warming up by throwing to one of the equipment managers. “I felt bad,” he said. “I was just firing it at him, and the ball was slipping through, hitting him in the face. I was amped up.”
His sole concern once on the field was to avoid mishandling the ball. He joked that receivers urged him to not throw too hard, and he said he used his left hand to help secure the ball before releasing a pass.
And although his first college game came in “just the worst conditions possible,” Kline said he’s thankful for the opportunity.
“It was awesome . . . it was definitely something I’ll remember for my whole life,” he said. “I know if I can play in those conditions, then I can play in any conditions.”