Better know a Pac-12 QB: Jared Goff

The Pac-12 is blessed with an abundance of returning starting quarterbacks in 2014. With 10 starters coming back, many are wondering if the league is on pace for its best quarterback year ever. This week the Pac-12 blog will give you a snapshot of all 10.

Name: Jared Goff

School: California

Grade: Sophomore

2013 passing stats: Completed 320 of 531 pass attempts for a 60.3 completion percentage and 3,508 yards. Threw 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a raw QBR of 48.0 and an adjusted QBR of 53.5.

Career passing stats: Same as above.

2013 rushing stats: Rushed 59 times for minus-62 yards with one touchdown.

Career rushing stats: Same as above.

Goff on Twitter (Though his last Tweet was 'see you in January,' so maybe follow now and Tweet @ later).

What you need to know about Goff: Goff entered the program already locked in a three-way competition with Zach Kline (who has since transferred) and Austin Hinder. He won the job for the plain and simple reason that he was the most consistent. Goff put up monster numbers for a true freshman, breaking single-season marks for yards, completions and attempts. In the first half of his season, he saw No. 22 Northwestern, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 11 UCLA. That’s as tough a slate as you’ll see as a quarterback, let alone for a true freshman. Despite his record as a starter, Goff is full of talent and potential.

Career high point: For a team that failed to beat an FBS team last season, there aren’t many. Despite massive defensive injuries, Goff (one of just four Cal players to start all 12 games last year) shouldered a lot of the blame -- as any good quarterback does. He had four touchdowns (but two interceptions) in a tight loss to Arizona and three in a blowout loss to to USC. He also had three in a loss to Ohio State. The Pac-12 blog is reluctant to give credit for beating FCS teams. So we’ll just say Goff’s best days are still ahead of him. Because we believe they are.

Career low point: Believe it or not, Goff didn’t really have any horrendous statistical games. He had three interceptions in the season-opening loss to Northwestern -- but a couple of those were on his receivers. He didn’t play poorly in the Big Game loss to Stanford, though 63-13 is just a ridiculous blowout that no one at Cal probably felt good about. We’ll go with Oregon, though. He lost two fumbles in the first three possessions (in monsoon conditions) and was replaced by Kline in the first quarter.

When he was a recruit: Goff committed to Cal in March of his junior season, then led his Marin Catholic team to the state finals, throwing for 3,692 yards and 40 touchdowns as the starter ahead of eventual Oregon quarterback signee, Morgan Mahalak. An Elite 11 finalist and an ESPN 300 prospect at No. 267 overall, Goff was a top-20 quarterback recruit and was Cal’s first commitment in the 2013 recruiting class, selecting the Golden Bears over offers from Boise State and Washington State. While it was no sure thing that Goff would walk in and immediately grab the starting position over quarterbacks such as Kyle Boehm and Kline, there was plenty in his ESPNRecruiting Nation scouting report to suggest he was capable. “Goff is a really crisp pocket passer with a tight, quick release. He has ideal height and adequate bulk already and is only going to get bigger, fill out and should become a powerful passer in time. Goff is very consistent fundamentally and his arm, release and accuracy are very attractive.”

Opposing head coach’s take: “In my humble opinion, he’s a budding superstar. He’s got to put some weight on because he’s still a little skinny. You talk about quick release. You talk about accurate. We talk about quarterbacks that are smooth. The best quarterbacks are always smooth. And as much as he got hit last year, he can stand in the pocket and release that ball and make some great decisions. I think the arrow is really going up for him.”

What to expect in 2014: A lot more maturity and a lot more consistency. Again, the Pac-12 blog doesn’t believe Cal’s record last year is indicative of his talent. Goff had five games last year where he didn’t throw an interception, so that mindset of protecting the football is already well ingrained in him. Goff has an extremely talented crop of receivers to work with -- arguably one of the best groups in the league -- and the coaching staff has said they are dedicated establishing a rushing attack, which will take a lot of the pressure off of Goff to make plays with his arm. Or at least, make easier plays. He’s told the Pac-12 blog on several occasions that last year was an amazing and positive learning experience for him. And at Pac-12 media days he talked about channeling some of the frustrations from last year (of which there were many) into getting better in 2014. He’s certainly in the right offense for his skill set. Recall, in 2012 Sonny Dykes had the No. 1 scoring offense in the country at Louisiana Tech, averaging 51.5 points per game, and the No. 1 total offense, averaging 577.9 yards per game. With the experienced gained last year, we’re looking for Goff to make big strides statistically (more touchdowns, better completion percentage) and as a team leader.

Erik McKinney contributed reporting.