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BERKELEY -- California freshman quarterback Luke Rubenzer moved in on starter Jared Goff’s territory on Tuesday, finding his favorite receiver three times during a single skeleton drive – a receiver who just so happened to be Goff’s roommate last year: Ray Hudson.
“He’s just a big body, and I’ve never had a tight end like that,” Rubenzer said. “It’s something different, and he was getting open, doing a good job.”
Rubenzer has taken the lion’s share of second-team reps through his first two days of fall camp, though Chase Forrest got more shots on Tuesday, as the race for the backup spot is spirited, to say the least.
“We’re all just out there competing,” said Rubenzer. “We’re all cool with each other, we’re all rooting for each other to do well, but at the end of the day, we’re all fighting for a job. We came here to play football, and not just to sit down and watch.”
Rubenzer has always used his legs as a weapon, and on the first day, he dealt with several low snaps from J.D. Hinnant, which forced him to scramble. In his first 11-on-11 drive, he had to field a grounder from Hinnant, before scrambling for five yards. On another low snap, he was the victim of a sack from Brennan Scarlett, but he was also able to make some hay with a 15-yard run on a broken play.
On Tuesday, Rubenzer showed off the legs again, completing a pass down field to Kenny Lawler after defensive end Jonathan Johnson flushed him from the pocket.
Rubenzer joked that he’s been chased by guys this size, but “not this big, and fast.”
“Scarlett was running a 4.7, 4.6, something like that, so it’s different, but I think, if you look at yesterday and today, I think I started to catch up to the speed a little bit today,” Rubenzer said. “It’s coming.”
Unlike Goff, Rubenzer didn’t enroll early, so getting up to speed – both on the field and off – has been the biggest adjustment.
“The biggest adjustment is that I’ve been a little bit behind,” Rubenzer said. “Today, I did a better job than yesterday. I tweaked my footwork just a bit, and that definitely helped a lot.”
That tweak in footwork enabled Rubenzer to deliver the ball deeper downfield with better accuracy, and allowed him to trigger just a bit quicker. During skeleton work on Tuesday, Rubenzer had his best throw of the past two days, hitting Chad Hansen on a corner route between two defensive backs. He also was able to find Maurice Harris several times, taking advantage of the lengthy receiver’s reach by putting the ball where only Harris could reach.
“I’ve just got to keep working on my footwork to get my timing down,” Rubenzer said.
Rubenzer – who wore No. 7 in high school – picked out No. 8, a number that, for Cal quarterbacks, hasn’t panned out since it was worn by Rubenzer’s Elite 11 buddy, Aaron Rodgers.
“Hopefully, I can turn that tradition around,” said Rubenzer, who’s the third quarterback since Rodgers to wear No. 8, after Kyle Reed and Zach Kline, who left the program after last season. “Aaron’s a great guy, a great guy to look up to, a great role model to have.”
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