BERKELEY – An extremely challenging season for Cal’s football team came to a close Saturday afternoon in a 63-13 loss to No. 10 Stanford in the 116th Big Game at Stanford Stadium. What the Bears have to look forward to now are improved health, more experience and increasing comfort level with a new coaching staff.
The Bears knew this season wasn’t going to be easy. They entered 2013 with one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation playing against one of the toughest schedules in the country. But compounding their obstacles was a seemingly endless stream of key injuries that left an already inexperienced team even thinner.
Cal had 13 players this season who were starters or projected starters that suffered season-ending injuries or missed multiple games. Almost appropriately, the rash of injuries was culminated Saturday when starting quarterback Jared Goff went down with a shoulder injury right before halftime and didn’t return.
But it is Goff and the weapons around him that gives the Bears hope going into the offseason. The true freshman finished the season with a school-record 3,508 passing yards and has multiple options in the passing game to throw to for the future. With receivers such as Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler and Richard Rodgers in the fold, the Bears aerial attack figures only to get better in 2014.
“I’m extremely optimistic,” Goff said. “With the guys we have coming back on offense and other guys we have coming back off injuries on defense, I think we are going to surprise some people how much better we’re going to be next year.”
Treggs finished the season as Cal’s leading receiver with 77 catches while Harper, who sat out the Big Game with a hip injury, had 70 catches for a team-high 852 yards and five touchdowns. Lawler also had five touchdown catches and exhibited a tremendous potential for big plays.
“I think the potential for our team has been phenomenal the entire time,” sophomore center Jordan Rigsbee said. “You look at our offense, we pretty much have every starter coming back. Our defense is young, too. Our whole team will grow this summer. This will be our first whole offseason with the new coaching staff, which will be nice.”
The Bears held their own early on against the Cardinal. After Stanford scored a touchdown quickly on its first possession, Cal took over and drove 80 plays in six plays with Goff throwing a 15-yard scoring pass to Maurice Harris to make it 7-7 with 11:43 left in the first quarter.
Stanford extended the advantage to 21-7 but the Bears stabilized things again for the moment, putting together an 11-play, 83-yard drive that ended at the Cardinal 12-yard line. Vincenzo D’Amato kicked a 29-yard field goal to make it 21-10 with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
D’Amato later added a 47-yard field goal. He ended the season with 31 made field goals and 82 points, each of which are career-highs.