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Cal Football Spring Chat: A Quarterback Comparison

Nam Le of Bear Insider and California Golden Blogs (blueandgold15) sat down for a multi-part interview on Cal football regarding the Bears.

Jared Goff, Austin Hinder, Zach Kline
Jared Goff, Austin Hinder, Zach Kline
Cal Athletics

From what you saw of the main starting three QB contenders, what are the positives and negatives of each of the three candidates?

Redshirt freshman Zach Kline has been pegged by many as the favorite for the job, and with his rocket launcher for a right arm, it's not hard to see why. All throughout spring, Kline has shown a knack for making throws that no one else on the roster can, fitting balls into spaces that a lesser armed QB would not dare try. Since the moment he stepped on campus, Kline has been carrying the hopes of an entire fan base - and it is only his lack of consistency that is holding him back from winning the job. He can make the spectacular play - but whether or not he can make the simpler ones every single time remains to be seen, as Kline occasionally hiccups on screens and short passes. That will prove key in an offense like the Bear Raid, where execution and accuracy are more imperative than explosiveness.

Austin Hinder brings a dimension none of the other candidates have either - he is by far the best runner of the bunch, and toward the end of spring practice, the coaches began installing packages specifically to take advantage of that trait. Zone read options, keepers, QB power and draw runs - that's an area of the playbook that only Hinder can run effectively. There are no real drawbacks to having Hinder as the first Bear Raid Commander - he is calm, cool, and effective, but nothing spectacular. His ability to throw the deep ball is a slight hindrance, though - anything past 25 yards gets to be a little iffy.

The real dark horse in the group is true freshman Jared Goff, who enrolled early and began taking reps this spring. For someone just a few months removed from high school, you would have a hard time telling it from his play on the field. Goff has been steady, never letting any mistakes - and there have been some - shake him up at all. Coach Sonny Dykes mentioned that Goff was better than he initially thought, which seems to be true. He has played about as well as either of the other two candidates, despite his age and inexperience. Starting Goff, however, comes with a potential set of locker room distractions, as he would be jumping two upperclassmen - and as it stands right now, he needs to gain weight, badly. His frame doesn't look like it can withstand consistent hits from, say, a Will Sutton, or a Morgan Breslin.