Football: Cal news conference transcript

A transcript of Cal’s post-Armed Forces Bowl news conference, courtesy of Caption Northwest, Inc:

COACH DYKES: It felt good to win. I thought the way we played today was really indicative of the way we practiced leading up to the game. I was really pleased with the way we focused. We started practicing the week after the Arizona State game. And it’s a long way away when you start thinking about practicing. You have about a month between that game and this game.

And we’ve got to give our guys a lot of credit, because they had the right mentality. They came out and practiced hard every day. They were real focused, and I thought we played that way as a result. So, again, it was nice to see them prepare the way they did.

I was really proud of the way they traveled here to Fort Worth. We had a great experience in the bowl game. The Armed Forces Bowl did a great job taking care of our guys.

And I was really pleased with the maturity that we showed traveling. We only had one player on this team that had ever played in a bowl game prior to this. And I thought our guys showed a lot of maturity and really did a great job of preparing. And they kept in mind that, you know, that our objective was to win the game. And, again, that showed a lot of maturity for a group that hadn’t been through that. Really proud of them.

Really proud of our seniors, what they’ve done for this program, the way they hung in there and kept believing and kept battling when it hasn’t always been easy. And really, like I said, could not be more proud of the group of young people than I am those guys. Just loved to be around them. And it’s been a fun team to coach. A team I’m going to miss. And a lot of guys that have been really good players for us that I’m going to miss, but I’m happy for them.

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Football: Does this sound like a guy who is coming back?

After Cal’s 55-36 win over Air Force, Jared Goff stopped short of saying he is headed to the NFL.

Goff said he would discuss the issue with his family, then make a decision. But the junior from Marin spoke in past-tense terms about his Cal career.

“It’s been a fun ride,” Goff said. “To go from 1-11 (in 2013) to last year being so close, to this year winning eight games and finishing with a bowl victory, it’s really as much as you can ask for. It’s been a lot of fun.”

That’s all we have for now. But it sounds like the remaining process may be little more than a formality.


Columnist Marcus Thompson says it’s time for Goff to try the NFL


Cal fans at Fort Worth chanted, “One more year,” at the game’s end.

“I was chanting that, too,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said, only half-joking.

Dykes said he will confer with Goff, but also sounded like he already knows the outcome.

“None of these decisions these guys have to make are easy decisions,” Dykes said. “I’ll give my two cents and just try to advise him but the way I see this thing is if he’s got an opportunity to be one of the top draft picks or the first quarterback taken in the draft, then I don’t think there’s much of a decision to make, quite frankly.

“I’ll be incredibly supportive. Whatever he decides, he’ll make the decision for the right reasons and I have complete confidence in that. Ultimately my job is to give him my advice and tell him what I think and what I feel and he’s got to sit down with his family and decide what’s best.”

Stay tuned. We should know something soon.

If we don’t already.


Football: Takeaways from Cal’s 55-36 Armed Forces Bowl victory over Air Force

— What I saw that’s worth remembering from Cal’s 55-36 victory over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday:

— PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jared Goff achieved one of two things: He either established himself as a high first-round NFL draft pick or a (very) early frontrunner for the 2016 Heisman Trophy. Cal fans shouldn’t get their hopes up and count on the latter. Goff was spectacular in what is expected to be his final college game, completing 25 of 37 passes for 467 yards with no interceptions and six touchdowns. His TD total tied the second-most by a quarterback in any bowl game He broke the Pac-12 single-season TD record of 42, set last year by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, and he eclipsed the conference season passing yards record set in 2013 by East Bay native Sean Mannion of Oregon State. Goff finished the year with 43 TD passes and 4,719 yards. His crazy, three-year career totals: 96 TDs and 12,200 yards.

— FAMILY DAY: Senior wideout Bryce Treggs caught four passes for 143 yards and a touchdown, boosting his career marks to 195 receptions for 2,506 yards and 15 touchdowns. Added to Brian Treggs’ numbers from 1988-91, and the father-son receiving duo totaled 362 catches for 4,841 yards and 30 TDs.

— PLAY OF THE GAME: Cal forced Air Force kick returner Timothy McVey to fumble midway through the second quarter and Kyle Kragen recovered for the Bears at the Falcons’ 24-yard line. Goff delivered a TD pass to Kenny Lawler on the next play and the Bears forge a two-touchdown lead, 28-14. The Falcons never again were a threat.

— TURNING POINT: From the Air Force point of view, the game changed when senior safety Weston Steelhammer was ejected for a targeting penalty on Cal’s third play of the game. Besides having a cool name, Steelhammer is regarded as the Falcons’ best defensive player and the emotional and vocal leader of their secondary. Let’s face it: Air Force had little chance of defusing Goff and the Cal passing attack anyway. Without Steelhammer, the game became a track meet for the Cal offense.

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Armed Forces Bowl: Jared Goff carves up Air Force in 55-36 victory, holds off on announcing plans

FINAL: Cal 55, Air Force 36. The Bears (8-5) took their foot off the pedal in the fourth quarter, content to run clock and go home. Still, they broke the school record for points in a bowl game, breaking the mark of 52 they set against Virginia Tech in the 2003 Insight Bowl.

Jared Goff took home a pair of Pac-12 single-season passing records to go with Cal’s first eight-win seasons since 2009, its first bowl victory since 2008. Goff’s 43 touchdown passes and 4,719 passing yards eclipsed records set by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota of Oregon in 2014 and Sean Mannion of Oregon State in 2013, respectively.

As expected, Goff made no announcement about his future and the NFL.

“I’m going to sit down with my parents, discuss it and decide. You should know soon,” he said afterward.

Cal finished with 586 total yards and 27 first downs. The Bears had the ball for just 10 minutes, 14 seconds in the first half, yet led 35-21. They scored on seven of eight red-zone chances, five of them touchdowns.

UPDATE: The early word on offensive tackle Steven Moore, who came off the field with an apparent injury to his left foot or lower leg, was that it did not appear to be serious. Moore, a junior and one of four expected returning starters on the offensive line, was wearing a protective boot after the game.

— Junior wideout Kenny Lawler, banged up and quiet for weeks, obviously got healthy during the pre-bowl break. He caught five passes for 75 yards, including three of Goff’s six TDs, and has 13 touchdowns on the season. That’s one shy of Sean Dawkins’ 1992 school record of 14. Lawler has 27 career TD catches, tied for second at Cal and four behind Dawkins’ all-time mark.

Like Goff, Lawler will soon decide whether he is returning for his senior season and entering the NFL draft. The deadline for juniors to submit their name to the NFL is Jan. 18.

— Trevor Davis caught two passes and Maurice Harris pulled in four, giving Cal six receivers with at least 40 catches — the only team in the country with that distinction.

— Matt Anderson fumbled a direct snap on a fake field goal try in the first quarter, but made both of his FG tries and finished the season 18 for 21, including his last 12 in a row.

— Sophomore Tre Watson rushed for 70 yards and will head into spring ball as the No. 1 running back in a deep group that also includes Khalfani Muhammad and Vic Enwere.

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Live updates: Cal vs. Air Force in Armed Forces Bowl, 11 a.m.

Cal's quarterback Jared Goff (16) and head coach Sonny Dykes stand on sideline in the first half of a Pac-12 game against Arizona State at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Cal’s quarterback Jared Goff (16) and head coach Sonny Dykes stand on sideline in the first half of a Pac-12 game against Arizona State at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Get in-game analysis Tuesday at 11 a.m. as Cal takes on Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Texas.

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Armed Forces Bowl: Cal vs. Air Force

RECORDS: Cal is 7-5, 4-5 in Pac-12; Air Force is 8-5, 6-2 in Mountain West.

KICKOFF: Tuesday, 11 a.m. at Amon G. Carter Stadium at Fort Worth, Texas.


SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 6-2. The Bears won the most recent meeting 42-36 in the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl, rallying from a 21-0 deficit.

STORYLINES: Cal, playing in its first bowl game since 2011, hopes to reach eight victories for the first time since 2009. . . . This is expected to be the final game for Cal junior quarterback Jared Goff, projected as a first-round NFL draft pick. Junior WR Kenny Lawler (47 receptions for 583 yards, 10 touchdowns) also said he would explore whether to forgo his senior season in favor of the NFL. . . Cal and Air Force have one common opponent: The Bears beat San Diego State 35-7 in Week 2 of the season and the Falcons lost to SDSU 27-24 in the MWC title game. . . . Cal is 10-10-1 all-time in bowl games. . . . . Air Force is playing in its eighth bowl game in nine seasons.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: Saf Damariay Drew (knee) and WR Kenny Lawler (buttocks) will play; RB Daniel Lasco (ankle) and DE Puka Lopa (undisclosed) are doubtful; Saf Griffin Piatt (collarbone) is out; Air Force: OL A.J. Ruchel (leg) is probable; LB Connor Healy (knee) is doubtful; QB Nate Romine (knee), FS Shayne Devern (knee), FB D.J. Johnson (hamstring) and DL David Harris (knee) are out.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s defensive front vs. Air Force’s triple-option offense. The Bears rarely see the triple-option and Air Forces runs it efficiently. The Falcons are second nationally with 321.8 rushing yards per game, led by fullback Jacobi Owens, who has 1,038 yards. Senior QB Karson Roberts is one of six more Air Force players with at least 300 rushing yards, and he also has passed for 1,446 yards. Cal, which has allowed an average of 283 rushing yards the past four games, tried simulating the Air Force attack in practice by scrimmaging without a football so defenders would stay disciplined to their assignment.

STATS THAT MATTER: Goff, owner of 26 Cal passing records, has thrown for 4,252 yards and 37 touchdowns this season. He needs 267 yards to become only the third quarterback in Pac-12 history to pass for 12,000 yards in a career and 411 yards to set a single-season conference record. . . . Air Force is among the nation’s leader with 36 sacks, but Cal is coming off a 48-46 win over Arizona State in which it didn’t allow a single sack to a Sun Devils team that shares the NCAA lead in that category. . . . Air Force has allowed just two sacks all season. . . . Cal is the only team in the country with six different receivers boasting at least 35 receptions. If Trevor Davis catches two passes and Maurice Harris four, all six will have at least 40. . . . Air Force is 36-2 in nine seasons under coach Troy Calhoun when it allows fewer than 20 points. But Cal has scored at least 20 points in every game this season and 22 of its past 24 outings. . . . Cal’s offensive line averages 6-5 and 309 pounds, compared to 6-2 and 272 pounds for the Falcons.


Football: Cal senior Daniel Lasco probably won’t see action at running back in bowl game

Cal coach Sonny Dykes confirmed that senior Daniel Lasco hasn’t sufficiently recovered from an ankle sprain and likely won’t play running back Tuesday when the Bears face Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Texas.

“He’s not moving around great,” Dykes said after Saturday’s practice at Centennial High in Burleson. “He’ll probably play some special teams a little bit. He’s probably not going to play running back. He’s still not full speed.”

Lasco, one of six Texas natives on the Cal roster, gained 1,115 yards as a junior but has had his senior campaign sabotaged injuries.

Otherwise, various players who have been banged up are healthy again. Wide receivers Kenny Lawler and Trevor Davis and tackle Brian Farley all are ready to go, Dykes said.

Safety Damariay Drew, recovered from a knee injury, was sick Friday but practiced Saturday and will play against Air Force.

“As a group, it’s the healthiest we’ve been in a while,” Dykes said.

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Football: Cal QB Jared Goff expected to turn pro, but not everyone thinks he should leave early

Steve Bartkowski, the only Cal quarterback to be taken No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, remembers the first time he saw Jared Goff play.

“He looked like a skinny, kind of gangly kid as a freshman,” Bartkowski recalled.

That’s not how the former two-time Pro Bowl selection now describes the junior quarterback, who will lead Cal against Air Force in Tuesday’s Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Texas.

“He’s got a great future,” said Bartkowski, 63, who played 12 NFL seasons. “He’s got a big enough arm to make all the throws, which is the No. 1 prerequisite for playing the pro game. I really like what I see.”

So does pretty much everyone else, leading to a nearly unanimous assumption from the mock draft crowd that Goff is about to play his final game for Cal and will submit paperwork by the Jan. 18 deadline to enter the NFL draft.

Goff, whose 11,733 career passing yards are the most over three seasons in Pac-12 history, has consistently declined to address his NFL future. “I don’t know where they’re getting their information from,” he said after a recent practice, “but I’ve not made a decision yet.”

Cal coach Sonny Dykes wouldn’t give up anything Goff has said in their discussions, but understands the prevailing sentiment. “What they assume is if you’re going to be one of the top two or three quarterbacks, you’re coming out,” he said. “It’s usually a right assumption.”

Goff and Memphis junior Paxton Lynch are the consensus top-rated quarterback prospects in college football. ESPN draft specialist Todd McShay believes Michigan State senior Connor Cook may be the most NFL-ready right now, but says Goff and Lynch have greater upside.

Still, McShay cautions against any junior quarterback entering the draft, and uses recent history as his guide.

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Football: 10 reasons why Cal’s bowl game is vital

It wasn’t until the 10th game of the regular season that Cal finally shook a four-year drought and achieved eligibility to play in its first bowl game since 2011.

Now that the Golden Bears (7-5) are set to face Air Force (8-5) in the Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 29, what is the payoff?

Here are 10 reasons why playing in a bowl game is important to Cal:

• Eighty teams will play in 40 bowl games this season, suggesting that any program left out of the equation can’t be taken seriously — by ticket-buyers, donors, media and recruits. Over the previous three seasons, 10 Pac-12 schools combined to play in 26 postseason games. The exceptions: Cal and Colorado. The Bears are happy to leave behind that distinction.

• Perhaps one last chance to watch Jared Goff play. The junior quarterback from Marin has broken virtually every Cal passing record and could be playing in the NFL next season. Old Blues should enjoy what is likely his farewell to college football.

• Yes, this is Cal’s 2015 season finale, but it’s also the start of a new era of sorts. Coach Sonny Dykes has signed a contract extension through 2019, and he wants a victory to create momentum headed toward signing day and the 2016 season. With a bowl victory, Dykes said, “you feel like you had more of a successful year. It’s a confidence boost, a sense of accomplishment.”

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Football notebook: Tre Watson making most of his chance

All Tre Watson needed was a chance to show what he could do running the football for Cal.

On the heels of three games where he totaled 289 rushing yards, the 5-foot-10 sophomore has high expectations for himself when the Bears take on Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Texas.

“Big players make big plays in big games. That’s my goal – to go out there on Dec. 29 and put on a show,” Watson said.

Watson carried the ball just 37 times for 145 yards through Cal’s first nine games. But injuries, including to senior Daniel Lasco, created opportunity.

“A big part of that was he kept getting better and being fresh helped him,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said after a rainy Friday practice. “That’s why it’s so important to have four or five backs. They’re going to get beat up. Guys like this emerge late because they haven’t taken that many hits.”

Watson, who rushed for 5,244 yards and 72 touchdowns at Centennial High in Corona, broke loose for 110 yards in Cal’s win over Oregon State, and hasn’t taken his foot off the gas.

“It’s starting to feel like high school. I’m excited, getting better every day,” he said.

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