Football: Rubenzer’s strong camp forced coaches’ hand

Cal coach Sonny Dykes and his staff entered fall camp without a clear idea of how they might use freshman quarterback Luke Rubenzer.

So Rubenzer made the decision for them.

After the Scottsdale, Arizona, native practiced at a “pretty high level” the first week, Dykes waited for him to become physically or mentally overloaded. He waited for Rubenzer to slam into the “freshman wall.”

“He just kept getting better,” Dykes recalled. “During that period of time, when guys normally take a step back, he took a step forward.”

So Rubenzer did more than win the backup quarterback job. He convinced the coaches they had to find a way for him to contribute now.

On Saturday at Northwestern, in a move that surprised the Wildcats, Rubenzer came off the bench repeatedly to provide the Bears a running quarterback counterpunch to starter Jared Goff’s throwing prowess.

He was the game’s leading ground gainer with 48 rushing yards on 11 attempts, and three times negotiated first downs. The last of those, inside the final minute, came on a mis-executed play and clinched Cal’s 31-24 victory.

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And click here to see what kind of grade colleague Jon Wilner gave the Bears for their win at Northwestern.

Jeff Faraudo