Washington Huskies

NFL’s next $100 million man will challenge Huskies

California quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes under pressure by San Diego State defensive lineman Alex Barrett (58) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Berkeley, Calif.
California quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes under pressure by San Diego State defensive lineman Alex Barrett (58) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Berkeley, Calif. AP

The Jared Goff Show is coming soon to Husky Stadium.

If you’re a casual Washington fan unfamiliar with Goff, I’ve got a hunch that by dinnertime Saturday, you’ll know all about the quarterback who has either broken, or soon will break, virtually every career passing record at California.

Goff’s achievements are especially notable because his junior season is all of three games old. It’s almost certain there won’t be a senior season.

Goff already is envisioned by many scouts as the top overall pick of the 2016 draft. Whenever he’s selected, there will be so much video footage on him that the NFL Network will be tempted to rename itself The Goff Channel.

Comparisons to another Cal quarterback whose pinpoint passes shredded the Seahawks defense during the fourth quarter Sunday night are inevitable.

“He does some stuff I’ve never seen anybody do before,” Golden Bears coach Sonny Dykes recently told Sports Illustrated. “He gets the ball out so quick. He sees things. He’s got all the stuff.”

But unlike Aaron Rodgers, who at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds was fully grown when he entered the draft, the 6-4, 205-pound Goff has some bulking up to do.

“Physically, he’s still real skinny,” said Dykes, “and when scouts get around him, they’re going to go, ‘Am I really going to give this guy $100 million?’ Other than that, there’s not one negative thing you can say about the guy.”

Goff grew up in the Bay Area, but he’s got a Seattle connection through his father, a former Mariners catching prospect taken out of Cal in the third round of the 1986 draft. Jerry Goff advanced as far as Triple-A before he was traded for pitcher Pat Pacillo in 1989.

Jerry Goff bounced around the majors as a backup catcher for a couple of years, only to discover how sports can be so arbitrarily cruel. On May 12, 1996, as Mike Hampton’s battery mate with Houston, Goff was charged with six passed balls, tying a big-league record. And though he hit a home run in the 8-7 defeat, Astros management determined that six passed balls hurt the team more than a homer helped it.

Goff was sent down to the minors a few days later, and that was that. He never appeared in another big-league game.

In order for a catcher to make it to the majors for even one day, of course, he must have an ability to throw. Jared Goff apparently inherited some of that talent. Goff doesn’t boast Rodgers’ sheer arm strength, but to borrow from the golf axiom about driving and putting: velocity is for show, touch is for dough.

Goff’s touch is predicated on superior footwork and a knack for anticipating what’s about to unfold. His 73.1 percent completion rate is off the charts, but completion-rate numbers can be skewed by low-risk passes for minimal gains. More impressive are these numbers: 17 attempts of at least 20 yards, with 14 completions.

When Rodgers’ draft stock in 2005 fell from a potential top-five pick to No. 24 — that’s right, Rodgers remained on the board for several hours after the 49ers began the night choosing Utah quarterback Alex Smith — he was seen as victim of a “system-quarterback” reputation.

All those gaudy stats Rodgers assembled at Cal, conventional wisdom held, were more the consequence of the playbook than the player. But because of the venerable presence of starter Brett Favre, the Packers were able to polish Rodgers’ technique behind the scenes.

A decade after a record-breaking Cal passer was sent to the back end of the first round because scouts saw him as a system quarterback, Goff looks like the beneficiary of enlightened conventional wisdom. He’ll thrive, the thinking now goes.

Sports can be ruthless. Jerry Goff allowed six passed balls in a 1996 game and was demoted by the Houston Astros, never to return to the majors.

And yet, sports is rich with inspiring irony. Jerry Goff’s son has put himself in position to sign a multimillion-dollar, lucky-for-life contract thanks to numbers regarding a college quarterback prospect’s first and foremost statistic.

Passed balls.

john.mcgrath@thenewstribune.com

  Comments