Football: NFL execs see a lot of Matt Ryan in Jared Goff

It seems NFL personnel executives pretty much see one current pro quarterback when they evaluate Cal’s Jared Goff: Matt Ryan.

Daniel Jeremiah, media analyst for NFL.com, spoke with five NFL personnel folks and the unanimous comparison they made to Goff was the Atlanta Falcons star.

Both are 6-foot-4 and lean. Ryan, who played his college ball at Boston College, is 30 years old. Amazingly, Goff is 20 for another week.

“He’s a pure, tall pocket passer,” one NFL executive said.

“He has a tall, skinny frame and plays with a gunslinger mentality,” said another.

“Everything that I find out about him background-wise reminds me of Matt Ryan. They’re both very accurate passers with good size,” a third scout said.

Added a fourth, “He reminds me of Matt Ryan, but has much better arm strength.”

The final exec said they are similar despite coming out of college systems that are totally different.

“Ryan was coming out of pro system at Boston College and Goff is in a pure spread system,” the scout said. “Because of that, the transition will be a little tougher for Goff. Talent-wise, they’re very similar.”

Both Ryan and Goff are having superb seasons.

Ryan has completed 67.1 percent of his attempts for 1,202 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions for the 4-0 Falcons.

Goff has completed 70.2 percent for 1,630 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions for the 5-0 Bears.


Basketball: Cal teammates say Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb have maturity to match their talent

Junior guard Stephen Domingo says there is more to Cal’s elite freshman duo of Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb than jaw-dropping video highlights on YouTube.

“These are some of the most mature freshmen I’ve ever met. They’re just like us,” said Domingo, a San Francisco native who transferred to Cal from Georgetown and becomes eligible this season. “They’re super mature. They know how to carry conversations past basketball.

“I think it’s a great group of guys coach brought in.”

Junior guard Sam Singer laughed while comparing this freshman class to his own. “We had a bunch of goofballs,” he said.

Brown, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound small forward from Marietta, Georgia, was rated one of the nation’s top five high school prospects last season. Rabb, a 6-11 power forward from Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd, was a consensus top-10 recruit.

With the core of last year’s team also back – including starting guards Tyrone Wallace, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews – the Bears are expected to challenge for the Pac-12 title. They are ranked in the top-15 in most preseason national polls.

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Basketball: Weekly `Real Talk’ sessions help Cal players explore topics away from the court

College basketball practice has begun, but the lessons are ongoing at Cal during the program’s weekly “Real Talk” locker room sessions.

Every weekend, the players gather with Director of Operations Marco Harris for a one-hour session that deals with virtually any topic. Except basketball.

Harris introduces a new subject each week and the players dissect it, offering opinions that don’t always mesh, but with the intention that they explore every point of view and perhaps find common ground.

“This is stuff to come together as a group, and not worry about basketball,” junior guard Sam Singer said. “We talk about life issues we’re going to come across in college and when we get in the real world. They’ve been very productive.”

“We learn stuff about guys,” junior Stephen Domingo said. “We learn what their morals are. If the guy next to you believes the same thing as you, it makes it easier to go to war with them.”

Coach Cuonzo Martin, whose team is expected to earn a preseason Top-25 ranking, said he initiated “Real Talk” when he became head coach at Missouri State in 2008-09. He took it with him to Tennessee and at Cal, where he’s beginning his second season as coach.

“It’s just really about life, not necessarily basketball,” Martin said. “How to become a man, dealing with tough times, family crisis. You name it. It can be any topic.”

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Football: Daniel Lasco says he has no pain in his hip, just needs to get head right

Cal running back Daniel Lasco said his hip has no pain and that he’s just waiting for things to get sorted out in his head.

Lasco missed the Texas and Washington games before returning to play last week against Washington State. But he was ineffective and was held out of the second half.

“I’m still getting there. I’m taking it day by day. It’s just hard and frustrating that I can’t be 100 percent right when I want to,” Lasco said after practice Tuesday.

“I’m kind of aggravated with it a little bit. It’s all in my head. I know it’s 100 percent, or very close to it. I just have to trust in the process and trust in the training staff and strength staff and believe they’re going to get me right.”

Coach Sonny Dykes expects Lasco to find himself again soon after rushing 10 times for just 22 yards against the Cougars.

“Biggest thing is just timing. For running backs, those guys get into a groove. It’s a timing position in a lot of ways,” Dykes said. “He’s just got to get that timing back, get that rhythm back, get his vision back, to the point where he can trust his vision.”

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Football: Pro Football Focus gives Jared Goff high marks

An intriguing and detailed analysis of Cal quarterback Jared Goff’s NFL potential, according to the website Pro Football Focus.

A few highlights from writer Sam Monson’s report, published on Tuesday:

— If you adjust only for dropped passes, Goff has been accurate on 79.9 percent of his attempts, good for sixth in the nation. When you factor in the kind of pass-protection Goff is dealing with, that becomes even more impressive.

— Despite getting rid of the ball on average in 2.28 seconds (33rd of 130 qualifying QBs in FBS), Goff’s offensive line has surrendered 52 total pressures in five games. He’s been sacked 12 times. He is under duress more than most quarterbacks but is as accurate as almost any of them.

— Goff’s deep ball is among the best in football. If we look at just passes that travel 20+ yards in the air, Goff has completed 19 of 26 passes this season, and two of the incompletions were dropped. That’s an accuracy percentage of 80.8 on some of the most difficult passes in the game. That isn’t just the best mark in the nation — only eight other quarterbacks in the FBS can come within 20 percent of that figure.

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Football notebook: Cal players say they won’t be thrown off their game at Utah by ESPN spotlight

Cal players promise they are treating Saturday’s Pac-12 showdown at No. 5 Utah the same as any other game, even with ESPN’s GameDay program visiting Salt Lake City and the game set to be shown to a national ESPN audience.

“It shows a great deal about where we are now and where we came from,” said wide receiver Bryce Treggs, alluding to the Bears’ 1-11 record just two seasons ago. “But coach (Sonny Dykes) made a great point. Just because we have college GameDay doesn’t mean we do anything different.

“It’s definitely exciting. We understand the national spotlight we’re in. There’s no greater stage to perform on.”

The No. 23 Bears (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) and Utes (4-0, 1-0) are the lone remaining unbeaten teams in the Pac-12.

Dykes said he doesn’t need to tell his players about the hype surrounding the game.

“They’re aware of all that stuff without me having to talk to them about it,” he said. “If you become the kind of program you want to become, you’re going to play in games like this. That’s the goal.

“Then you hope you’re good enough to figure out a way to win them.”

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Football: Golden Bears seek a different path than a year ago in season’s second half

The scenario feels very much the same as a year ago for the Cal football team, and that probably scares most Old Blues. It’s Week 6, the start of a ferocious gauntlet that will shape the Bears’ season.

In 2014, flying high at 4-1, Cal promptly went over the precipice. The Bears lost six of their final seven games and, at 5-7, failed to land a bowl game that once seemed within reach.

Now, 5-0 and ranked No. 23, the Bears prepare to visit No. 5 Utah on Saturday night in a showdown of the Pac-12’s two remaining unbeatens. After that, Cal takes on UCLA, USC and Oregon – all teams that have held top-10 rankings this season. Three of the four are on the road.

As the Bears try to go 6-0 for the first time since 1950, Cal fans aren’t the only ones feeling a mix of excitement and trepidation about a stretch of games that derailed their dreams a year ago.

“I’m anxious to see how it’s going to be different,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “I expect it to be different. We think it’s going to be different. But we’ve got to go prove that.”

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Football: Cal defensive player honored by Pac-12 for second week in a row — the world is upside down!

Senior safety Stefan McClure was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week — the second straight week a Cal defensive player has been honored by the league.

You might remember 2014 when the Bears’ defense was the most futile in Western Civilization, much less the Pac-12.

Not anymore.

A week after defensive end Kyle Kragen was honored, McClure got the award for delivering a timely sack and returning a fumble for a touchdown after a Washington State fake punt try.

The Bears have now scored three touchdowns with their defense this season — and I count this as defense (rather than special teams) because the fake punt made it an offensive play not a kicking-game play.


Football: Is Jared Goff’s Heisman candidacy for real?

Five weeks into the season, Cal quarterback Jared Goff is ranked third on USA Today’s Heisman Trophy watch list. Coach Sonny Dykes understands just what that means.

“I’ve always believed the Heisman Trophy is a team award,” Dykes said. “You’re kind of recognized as the best player on the best team. That seems to be what it’s become.

“As long as we play well and continue to win, people are going to take notice of him. I think if were sitting here and we were 0-5, I don’t think anyone would be talking about him for the Heisman.

“The more we win, the more recognition he’ll get. And that’s good – that’s the way it ought to be.”

Conversely, should the No. 23 Bears (5-0) lose to No. 5 Utah (4-0) on Saturday in Utah, Goff could drop from sight on the Heisman lists. It’s the first in a string of challenging games for the Bears – all of which will significantly impact Goff’s Heisman chances.

“If we’re talking about him for the Heisman in Week 10,” Dykes said, “that means we’re in a good spot.”

LSU running back Leonard Fournette, who has topped 200 yards rushing three straight games, sits atop the USA Today list. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is next, just ahead of Goff. Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is fourth.


Football: Dykes expects Bears to be healthy

Cal coach Sonny Dykes expects his team to be healthy and intact Saturday when the No. 23 Bears visit fifth-ranked Utah.

Running back Daniel Lasco, who played just the first half against Washington State after missing two games with a hip muscle strain, practiced Sunday.

“Daniel looked great,” Dykes said. “He’s just going to need those reps in practice to back to where he was. Every rep is going to be important to him. He knows it.”

Running back Khalfani Muhammad and defensive end Kyle Kragen both came out of the 34-28 win over WSU, but both are fine, according to Dykes.

Defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil (knee) played on a limited basis Saturday and defensive end DeVante Wilson (foot) sat out. Both will face the Utes. “Moose will have a big role this week,” Dykes said of Jalil.

Offensive tackle Brian Farley (ankle) also practiced Sunday after sitting out the WSU game.