Pac-12 Networks football analyst Yogi Roth spoke this week with Jon Wilner of the Mercury News on his podcast, primarily discussing the league’s quarterbacks.
And while Roth endorsed redshirt sophomore Chase Garbers as the Bears’ likely starter, his most interesting remarks dealt with the Cal defense.
Referencing the Bears’ schedule that features a trip to Washington in Week 2 to open Pac-12 play on Sept. 7, here’s what Roth had to say:
“You look at their schedule and they’ve got a chance to do some special things. If we looked at the schedule two years ago, we’d say, `They’ll start off 2-2 at best.’ “
Cal opens at home against UC Davis on Aug. 31 before facing Washington, North Texas and Ole Miss on consecutive Saturdays, and you get the feeling Roth feels the Bears can exceed a 2-2 start.
“They beat UW last year. Why would we think a new quarterback in the UW system is going to have success against Cal’s defense, that’s loaded by the way. Loaded. Secretly loaded,” Roth said.
“Kuony Deng, to me, has a chance to be defensive player of the year in this conference.”
Deng, the junior linebacker from Independence Community College in Kansas, arrived on campus in December and participated in spring ball. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, Deng is projected to play inside but Cal's coaches acknowledge he could be used in a variety of ways.
Roth, a former college wide receiver and once the assistant quarterbacks coach at USC, talked with Wilner about each Pac-12 program’s quarterback situation.
Here are his remarks about the quarterback position at Cal:
Asked if the QB competition at Cal this spring, involving Garbers, UCLA transfer Devon Modster and City College of San Francisco transfer Jake Newman, was real or imagined, Roth said perhaps a little of both.
“You want it to be real. Devon Modster was recruited for a reason. Jake Newman was recruited for a reason,” Roth said. “But also Chase Garbers turns 20 in June, I believe. (Correct: June 6). He had to play early. I really liked Chase in high school. He’s the same guy now.
“He earned the opportunity to play, and he earned the opportunity to get benched at times. He’d be the first one to tell you that.”
Roth recalled when it appeared Brandon McIlwain had secured the job that Garbers “never flinched.” And when McIlwain faltered, Garbers was ready to try again.
“He never was burdened,” Roth said. “It didn’t feel like there was ever a cloud hanging over him. I think he was like, `Dude, I’m a redshirt freshman. I’m just going to continue to try to sharpen my axe here and go to work.’
“So I think he’s going to be fine. I think he’ll be their starter. I think he’ll get pushed by those guys. Can he go win a game in a two-minute drill? That’s a TBD right now. We’ve seen him move the ball. We saw the SC game, obviously.”
Against the Trojans, Garbers helped rally the Bears from a 14-0 halftime hole, throwing a touchdown and running for another in the third quarter to spark a 15-14 Cal victory.
Roth said Garbers appears more fluid, shows greater command, drives the ball better and is stronger than a year ago, based on his showing in spring ball.
“He’s had the natural development of a third-year player,” he said. “That’s when a quarterback should really start playing, unless you’re one of those really gifted quarterbacks coming out of high school.”