BERKELEY -- In a somewhat anticlimactic revelation, California head coach Sonny Dykes affirmed what he originally asserted on Saturday last: Jared Goff will be the starting quarterback against Washington State, after battling for his spot this week with redshirt freshman Zach Kline.
"Goff will start," Dykes said. "We'll start Jared. We'll see how it plays out. There's a chance we might play Zach, depending on what happens during the game, but I would anticipate Jared being the starter and playing."
Dykes was pleased with Goff's renewed intensity coming out of his 3-for-7 performance in monsoon conditions against No. 2 Oregon, a night which saw him fumble the ball twice and saw the ball fly out of his hand on the draw-back three times.
"He'd had a good body of work thus far, other than the beginning of the Oregon game, and we felt like he just deserved it," Dykes said.
Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin echoed those sentiments.
"I thought they both did well," Franklin said. "He's the guy because he was the guy, and for that type of weather conditions to make Sonny and I change our minds, it's not enough evidence to do that. He played really well before that. That's the worst weather I've ever been in, in my life. There were issues with holding the ball that, the next time it happens, we think we have solutions, so I hope to God I never have one again like that, but if we do, we have solutions."
Kline, for his part, showed more zip on the ball during the week than in weeks prior, perhaps sensing his opportunity to at least make an impression outside of that he made during fall camp.
"It's been great. It's been awesome. I've been seizing every opportunity I have on the field, hitting open guys and learning from just my mistakes and capitalizing on things I've been doing well. It's been good," Kline said earlier in the week.
Dykes made a point of saying that both quarterbacks practiced well throughout the week, and that the staff would have felt comfortable with either one.
"We just wanted to see how [Goff] responded," Dykes said. "I think that was the biggest thing. I anticipated him responding the way that he has, but you never know with an 18-year old kid, how he's going to handle it when things don't go his way, because he'd had some struggles, but for the most part, he'd played pretty well and things had gone his way, so you want to see how it plays out."
Dykes said that there was the possibility, still, that Kline could still get some snaps this Saturday.
"We'll just kind of see how it plays out," Dykes said. "The funny thing about the quarterback deal is, whenever we've played two quarterbacks in a game, we haven't ever gone into a game saying we were going to play two quarterbacks. It's just something that happens."
That something happened quite suddenly a week ago.
"I was doing signals, and I was sitting there with my hat on, and it's just pouring. It was like you had your head under a showerhead," Kline said. "It was flying down, and you're freezing, because you have all the layers on, and then, as it rains harder and harder, you get colder and suddenly, it's, ‘Kline in!' ‘What? I am? OK. Alright. Let's do this!'"
Kline went on to go 18-for-37 for 165 yards and one touchdown, with one pick and one sack.
"One guy plays well, you get up, or one's not playing well and you get behind, and trying to find a spark, or one guy gets rattled or whatever, so you see how it plays out, so it's always a feel thing," Dykes said.
When Khalfani Muhammad went down last week with a head injury, redshirt freshman Jeffrey Coprich, Jr., came in as the third back, and gained 51 yards on 14 carries, with just one negative-yardage touch, leading the running backs with a 3.6 ypc average.
He's continued that strong play this week in practice.
"He's been good," Dykes said. "I think he's looked good, he's running around good. I thought he played well against Oregon. I thought, of all the runners, I thought he finished the runs probably better than anybody, so I thought he did some good things."
After spending the week sans knee brace, junior tailback Brendan Bigelow drew rave reviews from both Dykes and Franklin.
"He's had a good week, he looks fast," Dykes said. "He's moving around fast. It's all confidence with him, just getting confidence and developing confidence. I think, every week, it feels better."
Bigelow said that he will not wear the brace on Saturday.
"He's been much better," Franklin said. "He looked like the guy that we saw glimpses of last year and on film before the injury and stuff, so I'm looking for wood, knocking on wood, that we see that thing."
Bigelow has dealt with a lack of confidence in his thrice-operated-upon knee after offseason surgery to repair a meniscus issue, which has held him back from being the player Franklin remembered from last season.
"You always hope that they immediately just go out and it comes back, but I know this: For me, I played running back, and when I was overcoming injuries – especially surgery – I was bad," Franklin said. "It took me a long time to get this part right, and I wasn't near as good as him, obviously, but I know the mental part is so hard to get through that stuff, especially when it's a lower extremity."
Franklin addressed his assertion last week that he wanted to see "sheets of rains, monsoons of rain," which he got last Saturday night.
"You guys said stuff about weather, and I made like it would make no difference and was made a complete ass," he said. "It was just something that, in all honesty, I didn't prepare well enough for that. I didn't, and it's a learning lesson for me, that, as a 56-year old coach, I've been doing this forever and I didn't prepare as well as I should have … That's really bad coaching on my part. I should have prepared him for that."
Franklin had a good sense of humor about the situation, and while addressing the differences between the Air Raid and the Bear Raid – specifically the running game – he said, "Football's football, and if egos get that involved in it, you're going to have issues. I used to have a big ego, but not now. Ask my wife. She'll tell you."
"You've got to decide who you are, and what you can do," Franklin said. "We'll do stuff, and then, whatever works, we'll keep doing, and what doesn't work, we'll work with and hopefully something works. If it does, then we'll continue to do that. That's kind of the way we always do it."
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