As a freshman last season, Jared Goff set a Cal record for passing yards in a season. He also threw more incompletions (211) than any quarterback in school history.
That needs to change this fall, said Goff, who completed 60.4 percent of his attempts a year ago.
“I think 70-something is a good percentage. That’s really high, but I don’t put any limits on myself,” Goff said. “I’m just trying to complete every pass, one at a time.”
Coach Sonny Dykes said this week that Goff’s mid-range accuracy is noticeably better than a year ago, but that’s just part of the equation. The Bear Raid offense utilizes a lot of quick, short passes to backs or wideouts, and those connections need to be as dependable as handoffs, said offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.
“He needs for us to be good, he needs to be between 66 and 70 percent (overall),” Franklin suggested. “He has to be 99 percent on easy throws and where guys are wide open. When he gets an easy touchdown because somebody blows a coverage, he’s got to be about 75 percent on deep balls like that.
“Last year he would make a spectacular throw and miss three easy throws in a row. He has to get better at that, and he has so far.”
Goff will benefit from an experienced receiving corps that is the team’s strongest position group. “We’re freaking loaded,” said Goff, whose decision-making, grasp of the offense, strength, poise and ability to get rid of the ball quickly all have grown, according to Dykes.
Teams chart everything, even in practice, and Franklin said Goff’s daily completion percentage is about 12 points higher than a year ago. That’s encouraging, Franklin said, adding, “It’s still not there I want it to be.”
No argument from Goff. “I think I should complete every pass.”
Senior Austin Hinder ended spring ball as Cal’s No. 2 quarterback, but he’s no lock to hold onto that spot. Freshmen Luke Rubenzer and Chase Forrest have been given most of the reps behind Goff the first week of fall practice because the coaches want to find how what they can do.
“Austin is the best human being I’ve been around since I’ve been in coaching,” said Franklin, appreciative of Hinder’s team-first mindset .
The newcomers have been impressive and are getting serious looks because they have the added dimension of being able to run. “They’re comfortable, smart, talented, competitive,” Franklin said. “Everybody knew about Luke, but Chase was an afterthought for most people. He and Luke are head to head, and if Jared falls off those kids can come in and play.”
“I would be shocked if one of them did not play this season.”
Former Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who achieved NFL stardom after two seasons in Berkeley with coach Jeff Tedford, has repaid that debt.
Rodgers provided Tedford what Lovie Smith called “a ringing endorsement” when the Tampa Bay coach called for a referral for his vacant offensive coordinator position, according to USA Today.
“Having played against Aaron, I really respected him as a player,” Smith said. “I wanted a guy with an expertise at the quarterback position. . . . I talked to Aaron a few times. He was in the room with Jeff, knew how Jeff helped his career.”
The pupil and mentor meet on opposite sidelines Dec. 21 when Green Bay visits Tampa Bay.
After Saturday’s workout, Dykes said he continues to pleased with some of the squad’s newcomers, including junior college transfer Arthur Wainwright at linebacker. Among the freshmen, he praised safety Quentin Tartabull, defensive end Noah Westerfield and linebacker Aisea Tongilava, who snared the first interception thown all week by Goff.