Cal quarterback Jared Goff breaks down Air Force's defense, and the NFL Draft rumors

BERKELEY -- Cal quarterback Jared Goff breaks down Air Force and his projected place in the NFL Draft.

Cal Junior Quarterback Jared Goff

Air Force is 19th in the nation in sacks (2.77 per game) and third in sacks per opponent passing attempt (0.10), what has Goff seen from them?

"I think they probably play harder than anyone we've seen on film all year. That's something that I think they do consistently, year-in and year-out. They're a very successful program. They go to a bowl game almost every year, and really, I think it's nine out of the last 10 years, they've gone to a bowl game [Editor's note: The Falcons have gone bowling in seven of the last eight years], so they know how to win games. You can tell that on film that they play to win games. They play hard, and fly around."

From the Utah game through the Oregon game, Goff went 98-for-172 (57%) for 1,241 yards (310.25 ypg), with eight interceptins to nine touchdowns. Over the final three games of the season, Goff has gone 93-for-142 (65.5%) for 1,381 yards (460.3 ypg), with 13 touchdowns to just one interception. What's been the biggest difference?

"I don't know. I think I just stepped back and re-set myself and [thought], 'Don't try to change anything. You don't need to fix anything. Just relax and play your game.' That's what we did. I don't really think I was over-thinking or anything. You hit a slump every once in a while, and I think that's what happened to myself and our offense, and when that happens, you can't really try to press or try to push through. You just have to take a step back and relax and do what you've done your whole life, and that's what I did."

Having first-team All-Pac-12 wide receiver Kenny Lawler back, fully healthy, how much does that change this offense? 

"It's helpful. He's a great player, and when he's healthy, he's as good as anybody. He's one of the best guys we have on our team, and one of the best guys in the country. When he's healthy, it's a lot of help." Goff has been projected to go as high as the No. 5 pick in the NFL Draft to his hometown San Francisco 49ers, and it's been said that he's already made his decision to leave after his junior season. What's his reaction?

"I don't know where they're getting their information from. I have not made the decision yet."

Air Force boasts three first-team All-Mountain West defenders in senior defensive lineman Alex Hansen (64 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 3 pass breakups, 1 QB hurry, 1 forced fumble, 2 blocked kicks), junior cornerback Roland Ladipo (74 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, 3 interceptions for 61 return yards, 16 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble) and junior strong safety Weston Steelhammer (80 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, 5 interceptions for 30 return yards, 7 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery). What are Goff's impressions of the Falcons' defensive backfield?

"Good. Very good. Solid. They play a lot of man, so they've got to be good at that. In order to be good at man, they've got to be good DBs. They're rock solid, and fly around, like I said. They play hard." Cal has had some issues with press-man coverage this season. Is that a concern?

"I think we'll be fine. I think our guys have been working on stuff for the past couple weeks now, and a lot of press-man release stuff. For the most part, we've been good at it. I think the struggles have been, I don't know how to explain it, but I think we've been good enough at it where we'll be fine."

The Bears allowed just six sacks over the final five games, after having allowed 20 over the previous seven, and allowed 16 tackles for loss over the final five games, compared to the 47 they gave up in the first seven games of the season. What does Goff think of the improved pass protection?

"It's been great. It's been a lot of fun, to be able to sit back there and have guys flying around and flying by me, instead of hitting me. It's a lot nicer. It's been good. Those guys, all the credit goes to them. They've worked really hard. Coach [Brandon] Jones has got them where they need to be, and they've really, really improved this year. It's good to see."

Were there some tweaks in the way Cal has approached protection?

"Yeah, a little bit. There was a little bit of stuff where we kind of simplified it, I think, a little bit. It really just came down to them improving, and working hard, really watching a lot of film and trying to get better, and they have. It's been helpful."

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