BERKELEY — Three things you noticed about Cal from its 37-30 victory over Portland State on Saturday.
FIRST NOTICEABLE THING:
Quarterback Jared Goff is very good. He's not good because just he's a freshman playing quarterback. He's good because he's a very good quarterback playing quarterback.
Oh, you could quibble if you were a quibbler. He overthrows receivers on deep patterns. Well, he sometimes overthrows them. Receivers will be running past the coverage, and Goff will unwind and heave that ball and it will go too far. You figure he'll learn. Besides, he does so many other things beautifully.
In the fourth quarter, he ran a keeper up the middle — like a fullback barreling ahead — and he gained 17 yards. A few plays later, he hit Bryce Treggs for 39 yards. He had touch on the pass, the feel of the thing, and he is just beginning his career.
In the game, he threw for 485 yards. The first week against Northwestern, he threw for 450 yards. Before he appeared on the scene, Cal quarterbacks had thrown for more than 400 yards four times. So, in his first two games, Goff did it the fifth and sixth times.
Is he good or what?
After the game, he said the Bears could have played better. No argument with that. He didn't mind overthrowing receivers, he said. "It's almost impossible to be happy with every play." No argument with that.
Although he's just 18, he came off in person mature, poised, a team spokesman. He demonstrated the presence of a quarterback, admittedly an intangible quality.
SECOND NOTICEABLE THING:
The Cal Bears are fun to watch, a ton of fun. With them something is always happening.
They are busting off great runs or hitting the most precise passes in the flat or running the read-option like nobody's business. And everything happens so fast — boom, boom, boom. If the Cal offense were a writer, their offense would be one extended run-on sentence.
The Portland State defenders — the team is called the Vikings because apparently a clan of Vikings settled in Portland — well, the Vikings' defenders were falling down all over the place either because they were injured or they were faking injuries to slow down the hyperkinetic Bears or because they were exhausted from the sheer speed of the game and they wanted to roll over and pant like dogs.
The Bears' offense worked so fast on Saturday I couldn't write all their plays in my notebook and had to resort to the ESPN game stats which hopelessly lagged behind. The Bears are a high-speed blast and if you have nothing to do on a lovely fall day, you might consider dropping by a football game in Strawberry Canyon — if your heart can stand the excitement. And there is one other reason Cal is exciting. To learn why please read on.
THIRD NOTICEABLE THING:
The gritty eager Golden Bears don't play much defense. You almost get the feeling Sonny Dykes' playbook has 3,000 pages of offense and one or two handwritten pages of defense. This hypothetical disparity leads to the opponent looking very good and making things tense.