BERKELEY - One of the reasons Cal football coach Sonny Dykes chose true freshman Jared Goff as his starting quarterback was his calm demeanor. That was on full display late Saturday night during his postgame press conference following a disappointing 44-30 loss to No. 22 Northwestern in the 2013 season-opener.
Goff was a voice of reason, balancing truisms that the Bears showed a lot of promising signs but couldn’t overcome untimely mistakes. Combine that maturity with a productive performance in which he went 38-for-63 for 445 yards and two touchdowns, and the future certainly looks bright for Cal’s quarterback and the offense.
“I thought we played well throughout the game,” said Goff, whose passing total is an all-time high for a Cal freshman and ranks second in school history for a single game. “It was disappointing at the end to come up a little short. I thought we played pretty great throughout the game. That’s why it’s so disappointing.”
The 63 attempts by Goff are a school record. Unfortunately, Goff also threw three interceptions. Two of those – both off deflections – were returned for touchdowns by the Wildcats.
“There is lots of stuff I can do better,” Goff said. “I threw a few nice passes, but I had some mess-ups too. There was a little bad luck, but that’s no excuse. I just have to stay sharp and get better.”
Goff got hot in the third quarter, throwing two touchdown passes to wide receiver Chris Harper, who had career-highs of 11 catches and 151 yards, to go along with two touchdowns. Goff became the first Cal quarterback to throw or over 300 yards in his first career start since Justin Vedder threw for 321 yards at Houston in 1997.
“I thought it was a heck of a performance,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “To throw for 445 yards in his first football game is pretty impressive. He’s just going to continue to get better and better and take better care of the football. I thought overall, it was a heck of a way to start.”
Trailing 37-30, the Bears had a chance to tie after Alex Logan intercepted Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian with 3:47 remaining. But Goff’s first down pass was in turn picked off, and the Wildcats went down and scored to put the game out of reach.
Again, Goff displayed his grasp of the situation when asked about the pivotal interception.
“I just threw a bad pass,” he said. “It was just a bad ball. I can’t put that much air under it. It was there, I just made a bad pass.”
The Bears ended with 548 yards of offense, most of that through the air. Goff had a positive tone throughout most of his postgame media session, and again for good reason.
“I’m really excited for this offense,” Goff said. “It was a lot of fun out there. We definitely played well throughout the game. The ending was disappointing, but we have a lot to build on with how well we played. We’re going to come out even stronger.”