Goff made the statement, but…
By Phil Collin, www.armedforcesbowl.com
Jared Goff made the statement that California football fans have been waiting for all season.
No, not that statement.
The junior quarterback certainly showed why he might be the first quarterback taken in the next NFL Draft Tuesday by passing the Golden Bears to a 55-36 win over Air Force in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
As he left the field after passing for 467 yards and six touchdowns, setting Pac-12 Conference records for yardage (4,892) and TD passes in a season (43), Cal fans chanted “One more year!”
“I was chanting that too,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes quipped.
Goff deferred on the question, saying he’ll meet with his family and sort it all out and make his decision “soon.”
“It’s funny,” Goff said. “I was one of those little kids chanting that to DeSean Jackson eight, 10 years ago. I love our fans and appreciate all they’ve done for me and it’s been a lot of fun.
“I’ve been lucky. They’ve always had my back through the lows and highs and it’s been a great experience with them.”
After starting all 37 games during his three seasons at Cal, the first statement he wanted to make was that the Golden Bears are back on track after a miserable 1-11 campaign only two years ago.
“Going 1-11 is pretty much as bad as you can get besides going 0-12 and we almost lost to Portland State,” Goff said.
“We should have,” senior receiver Bryce Treggs chimed in with a smile. The Bears can smile now after enduring that 2012 season, and they were smiling most of the day as they marched up and down the field for 586 yards.
Cal finished the 2015 with an 8-5 record, the most wins the school has had since the 2009 season. The Golden Bears bested the school’s bowl scoring record by three points in their first postseason victory since 2008.
Whether or no Goff returns, that’s just about right where they wanted to be after Dykes’ third season.
Goff completed 25 of 37 passes, was not intercepted, and at one point connected on nine consecutive passes in the second quarter when Cal opened up a 35-21 halftime lead.
More than a few observers in the press box mentioned that he would look pretty sharp in a Dallas Cowboys uniform.
“None of these decisions these guys have to make are easy decisions,” Dykes said. “I’ll give my two cents and just try to advise him but the way I see this thing is if he’s got an opportunity to be one of the top draft picks or the first quarterback taken in the draft, then I don’t think there’s much of a decision to make, quite frankly.
“I’ll be incredibly supportive. Whatever he decides, he’ll make the decision for the right reasons and I have complete confidence in that. Ultimately my job is to give him my advice and tell him what I think and what I feel and he’s got to sit down with his family and decide what’s best.”
The Bears actually scored three touchdowns on passes from Goff in a five-play span. Cal had 13 possessions in the game, erasing the anxieties the coaching staff had that Air Force’s triple-option ground attack would limit opoortunities.
Treggs’ first-quarter touchdown catch, a 30-yarder, enabled him to tie his father Brian with 15 career TD receptions, which is eighth on the school’s all-time list. Treggs had four catches for 143 yards.
Receiver Kenny Lawler added five receptions for 75 yards and scored on catches covering 24, 14 and 25 yards. Darius Powe added four catches for 70 yards and two more touchdowns and Maurice Harris had four catches for 67 yards. He has 27 career TD catches (second-most in school history) and the junior will also have to make that NFL decision in the coming weeks.
Running back Tre Watson had 13 carries for 70 yards. All told, it was an attack that fits right in with the elite in the Pac-12. Goff remembers undergoing X-rays, then shoulder surgery, after closing out his freshman season.
“Bad things happen to you,” Dykes said. “And it all, your success and what’s going to happen to you . . . is really determined by how you handle it.
“And that’s kind of been our message from day one. Look, you know, it wasn’t good. We understand it. Let’s do things the right way. Enjoy the process, embrace the process, handle your business the way you’re supposed to do it. Do the little things right, and the it will all pay off for you.”
The little things added up big-time in the Armed Forces Bowl and gave Cal another glimpse of even brighter things in the future --- with or without Goff and Lawler.
“To finish like this, it sort of sets the path for the younger guys because they have a bar to reach. And hopefully they can surpass what we’ve done here.”