BERKELEY -- Peyton Manning came off the bench in his first college game and made three handoffs before sitting for the rest of the afternoon. Colin Kaepernick didn't start until the fifth game of his college career.
Those two NFL stars are among a long list of quarterbacks who didn't do what Cal's Jared Goff has done.
In fact, no freshman ever had passed for 935 yards in his first two games. Not Andrew Luck. Not Robert Griffin III. Not Johnny Manziel. Philip Rivers, a freshman at North Carolina State in 2000, comes closest. He passed for 798 yards in his first two games.
"It's an amazing thing that this is happening with a guy who was in a quarterback battle (last month) and was not considered to be the favorite," said Rick Neuheisel, the TV analyst who won a Rose Bowl as UCLA's quarterback.
Perhaps the only person unimpressed by Goff is Goff.
"It's cool, but right now we've got to beat Ohio State, and that's what we're focused on," the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder said of Saturday's game against the nation's No. 4 team. "You can't really think about stats. I'm really not concerned about that."
Goff, 18, has been at Cal since January. He enrolled after graduating early from Marin Catholic High in order to participate in spring practice with the Bears.
Fast forward nine months, and Goff is the trigger to the "Bear Raid" offense installed by new coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.
Through two games -- a loss to Northwestern and a victory over Portland State -- Goff and the passing attack have been the one constant. There has been less help from an inconsistent run game and almost none from the defense, which ranks among the poorest statistically in the nation.
Still, Dykes has no worries that his young quarterback might be tempted to shoulder too much responsibility for winning.
"I think ordinarily you would be (concerned), but he's handled it pretty well up to this point and really has made very few bad decisions," Dykes said. "I don't think he feels like he has to go out and win the game for us at that position."
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said keeping that perspective can be challenging for a young player. He said current Buckeyes junior quarterback Braxton Miller and Tim Tebow, who played for Meyer at Florida, both felt those pressures.
"Absolutely," he said. "I don't think I've ever had a true freshman as a full-time starter. Other positions, but not quarterback. That's a handful. I can only imagine what it's like as a quarterback, but he's doing a great job for them."
Goff said he feels no special pressure. Neuheisel said the only time he has seen Goff show "the slightest twinge of impatience" was on a deep ball that was intercepted late in the Northwestern game. "That is so unusual when it comes to freshmen," Neuheisel said. "He has a unique calm and poise in those settings."
During a teleconference this week with reporters covering Ohio State, Goff showed that mature demeanor. Asked how the Cal offense will fare against the Buckeyes, Goff was complimentary and respectful.
But, he added, "I think our offense can match up with any defense in the country."
The scheme thrives partly because it's fairly simple, consisting of about 15 running and passing concepts, each with multiple variations, run at a furious tempo. Franklin said he taught all of Cal's quarterbacks the basics in three days last spring.
"I don't know that this particular offense requires him to know everything there is to know about defensive coverage," Neuheisel suggested.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald described it as a "quarterback-friendly" offense.
"They give him an opportunity to be right on every play," said Fitzgerald, whose 22nd-ranked team was shredded for 450 passing yards in Goff's debut. "His moxie, his poise, his arm strength, his grasp of the offense was really, really impressive to us. He's going to be really special in that offense."
Jared Goff has passed for more yards (935) in his first two games than any freshman in college football history. The Cal quarterback also leads the nation in passing yardage. A look at the FBS national leaders:
Rank, QB Year Team Yards TD INT
1. Jared Goff FR CAL 935 4 3
2. Sean Mannion JR ORST 794 7 1
3. Baker Mayfield FR TTU 780 7 0
4. Teddy Bridgewater JR LOU 752 9 1
5. Connor Wood JR COLO 741 6 2
Ohio St. (2-0) at Cal (1-1),
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