No Glove, No Love

Jared Goff tries out a new way to conquer the weather, as Zach Kline earns more first team reps and the wide receivers work on fixing that pesky drop issue.

BERKELEY -- Though he said on Saturday night that freshman Jared Goff would undoubtedly be the starter this coming week against Washington State, California head coach Sonny Dykes showed a bit of a contradictory look at practice on Monday, as both Goff and redshirt freshman Zach Kline -- who relieved Goff on Saturday after just 15 snaps – got roughly equal reps with the first-team offense.

"We'll see how they perform this week, and then go from there," Dykes said. "We felt like Zach warranted getting some more reps, so we're giving him some more, and we'll see how that works."

Kline was more accurate on Monday than he was in the wet and windy conditions in Eugene, Ore., showing more zip on his passes as the mists rolled into Strawberry Canyon.

Goff, though, had some of the biggest throws of the day, with a long 40-yarder to Kenny Lawler to start full 11-on-11 work. Lawler was one of the big stand-outs on the day, earning plaudit after plaudit from outside receivers coach Rob Likens.

"He came right out of the gate and made the great play on a deep ball, and out-jumped Stef [McClure], and I think he's a really good corner, and any time we can make a big play on him, it makes me feel good, like we're really doing something," Likens said. "Kenny needs to make plays. He had a drop in the game, and he wanted to come back and show that he deserves playing time."

Early in practice, Likens reacted to his assertion last week that the one-day spate of drops was an anomaly, but was quite good-natured about his comments, given the double-digit drops on Saturday against Oregon.

"So, remember when I said I wasn't overly concerned with the drops?" he smirked. Later, Likens expanded on his quip. "It always comes back to get ya. I didn't know it was going to rain 48 inches in the first quarter, either, so …"

Four of those drops came from one receiver – inside man Richard Rodgers.

"In those situations, being a former receiver, you just have to focus and you have to concentrate," Likens said. "You have to even think, as the ball is approaching you, you need to have the thought process of, ‘How am I going to place my hands on this ball to catch it?' You don't just not think about it and let it happen naturally. You think, ‘OK, I'm going to stop it with my right hand, I'm going to put my fingertips in,' and you have to have those thought processes, as the ball's approaching you, the same as you would if it were a really cold day. You know it's going to hurt your fingers when it hits you, so you think about, ‘How am I placing my hands on that ball,' and one thing that does is, it helps you concentrate more on the football. I don't know if our guys were doing that or not."

There were notably fewer drops on Mondy, even despite the moist conditions and a campus-wide power outage that also affected Memorial Stadium. The outage – which precipitated an explosion in a campus power generator and forced an evacuation of non-essential personnel and students from the central campus – caused an early end to practice, but the staff was adamant that the Bears practice even in near darkness, repeating the mantra: "No excuses!"

For player safety, though, once conditions became a bit too dark, practice was cut short in order to avoid injuries. That said, both Dykes and Likens were pleased with the intensity on both sides of the ball.

"I was a little concerned until we practiced tonight," Dykes said of the team morale following a 55-16 loss. "I thought it was as good and as spirited a practice as we've had. I would say very good, based on what I saw tonight."

Likens was himself energized by the way his receivers came out.

"Yeah, it was a great tempo," Likens said. "Kids competed hard, they had fun, there was a lot of guys flying around, it was exciting. Kind of brought a little passion back to me, myself. I was kind of down after that game, and the kids were great today, got me excited."

Likens also cited something Dykes said after the game, when it came to drops, that was rather on-the-nose.

"Sonny said it best, when somebody said something to him about the game, and they said that it's hard to catch a ball in our offense in that rain, and he said, ‘Well, they found a way to do it, so we need to find a way to do it in situations like that,'" Likens said. "If Oregon can do it, we can do it, too. Just concentrate more on the ball and do whatever you've got to do to catch it." *****

Circling back around to the quarterbacks, Dykes said that, if pressed, he would say that Goff will still likely take the first snap of the game on Saturday against Dykes's own mentor, Mike Leach, and his Cougars.

"[Kline] earned the right to get some more reps, but if you're asking me if I had to make a guess, that'd be my guess [that Goff would start], but we'll see how that plays out," he said.

Goff sported a glove on his right hand on Monday, in part to get used to the feeling of throwing with one should the need arise in another rain-soaked affair, though the forecast for Saturday calls for sunny skies and a high of 82 degrees.

"We'll play with it, see how he is, see how comfortable he is with it this week, and it may be something that he decides to do, it may be something that he hates. We'll let it play out and make a decision," Dykes said. "I asked him about it, and he said it didn't make a difference. He thought it helped his grip a little bit, but he didn't really notice it once he was throwing the ball."

Dykes also said he thinks that the glove could help Goff's grip in the rain, and on Monday, he showed no ill effects of the extra equipment, with two long completions to start a drive that ended in an interception by McClure, who also had several break-ups against the scout team.

"There's some quarterbacks who play with them all the time," Dykes said. "I think [Ben] Roethlisberger played a number of years with one on all the time. There have been some others. I know [Tom] Brady uses them in inclement weather. It's just something we're playing with right now."


Tailback Khalfani Muhammad had his shoulder pads on, but no helmet, after suffering a head injury against the Ducks. Right tackle Steven Moore was also without a helmet, though both players were listed as probable for Saturday's game.

In Moore's place, Bill Tyndall took first-team snaps at right tackle.

The official injury report also listed Kameron Jackson (ankle) and Maurice Harris (shoulder) as questionable.

"I would think we'd have everybody available, based on the information I got today, so we'll see how it plays out. I hope we will. I think we will," Dykes said.

As for Jackson – who went down after taking a blow to his lower leg on Saturday – the news was actually quite positive.

"He got hit on the shin. I think he has a little bit of a strained muscle. It's just a lower leg injury," Dykes said. "I don't even know, quite frankly, what it is, but there were no issues on the X-rays." Top Stories