First-year coach Sonny Dykes, who has reshuffled the hand dealt him regularly this fall in hopes of reversing the Golden Bears’ fortunes, made perhaps his boldest move yet Friday.
He changed nothing at the most important position on his team.
After nearly a week of speculation, Dykes announced that freshman Jared Goff has retained his starting quarterback job entering Saturday night’s game at Washington.
Goff and redshirt freshman Zach Kline shared first-team reps in practice and the stage seemed set for Kline to get his first chance to take the reins as the starter.
The Bears are 1-6, winless in Pac-12 Conference play and there was a bit of a “why not?” feel to the prospect of a change at quarterback.
It would have been the easy call, perhaps the popular one among Old Blues dying to see some tangible results from a season whose initial promise largely has drained away.
There are few sports bar arguments about making a switch at offensive guard. But everyone’s an expert at picking a quarterback, and Dykes will get a push back from fans over this call if it doesn’t work out.
He didn’t bite.
Goff has been spectacular at times in the Bear Raid offense, three times eclipsing 450 passing yards in a game, including a school-record 504 yards in just his fifth start.
But the Marin native has had a rougher time recently. Turnovers are coming more regularly and the Bears generated just one touchdown with Goff on the field the past two weeks.
By Dykes’ own assessment, Goff’s confidence has been shaken a bit.
Kline, the Danville native who lost a fall camp battle with Goff for the starting assignment, has thrown three touchdowns in two competent relief appearances, including a pair in last week’s 49-17 loss to Oregon State.
Clearly there is some risk in not providing Kline an opportunity when the team is mired in a five-game losing streak and the coaching staff has tweaked the lineup at virtually every other position.
Kline and those in his corner could be wondering if this isn’t the time, then when? Kline might view the decision as a signal he should consider transferring.
Dykes doesn’t want that, but he and his staff are smart enough to have considered all these variables and more.
Quite likely it came down to this: They believe Goff still gives them the best chance to win right now.
Even if not everyone agrees.