The world can be a pretty big place for an 18-year-old kid just starting out on his own. Put him under center as the starting quarterback for a Pac 12 team like the Cal Bears and the spotlight and pressure get turned up to unimaginable levels. That’s the situation that Jared Goff finds himself in as a true freshman under first year head coach Sonny Dykes. Not only has Goff managed this high-pressure situation, but he has flourished like nobody in the history of college football. More importantly, he’s keeping an even keel through the whole process.
Nobody has done in their first two games as freshman what Goff has been able to do. In Dykes’ quarterback-friendly system, the true freshman has thrown for 935 yards and leads the nation in passing and total offense through Week 2. He’s the reason that Cal ranks No. 9 in total offense as they average 33.5 points per game. He hasn’t gotten a lot of help from the running game or the defense yet, but the passing game is in extremely capable hands.
His play has gotten the attention of many across the country. Pat Fitzgerald and his Northwestern Wildcats escaped Berkeley with the win in Week 1, but the head coach left very impressed with Goff’s ability to lead the Cal attack.
“They give him an opportunity to be right on every play. His moxie, his poise, his arm strength, his grasp of the offense was really, really impressive to us. He’s going to be really special in that offense.”
Urban Meyer has been breaking down film of Goff in the lead-up to his Ohio State Buckeyes traveling to Memorial Stadium this weekend, and he came away very impressed with the way Goff has handled the pressure of being the starter at such an early stage of his collegiate career.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a true freshman as a full-time starter. Other positions, but not quarterback. That’s a handful. I can only imagine what it’s like as a quarterback, but he’s doing a great job for them.”
Goff has been able to maintain his poise and focus, avoiding making the mistakes that you would expect from a player so young and inexperienced. Dykes has raved about his ability to go out and just play without feeling the pressure to win the game on every throw. Through two games, Goff has arguably pressed just one time on a deep interception thrown late in the game against Northwestern.
That decision-making goes to show Goff’s maturity and ability to keep his head on straight even as praise gets heaped on him. When asked about his record-setting start, Goff remained laser-focused on the Cal team being as successful as possible.
“It’s cool, but right now we’ve got to beat Ohio State and that’s what we’re focused on. You can’t really think about stats. I’m really not concerned about that.”
With young stars breaking out all over college football and seeming to handle the spotlight with varying degrees of humility, Goff is a refreshing change of pace. His ability to sling the rock all over the field coupled with his poised and focused approach in the huddle and with the media will make him a bona fide star for years to come.