BERKELEY -- Running back Daniel Lasco has a vivid image of Cal quarterback Jared Goff's demeanor in his debut game as a freshman last season against Northwestern.
"He was very timid. He had a lot on his plate. Just nervous. He was afraid to make mistakes -- that was the biggest thing I saw in him," Lasco said Tuesday as the Bears continued preparation for this season's opener at Northwestern on Saturday.
That "timid" freshman actually acquitted himself nicely in the Bears' 44-30 loss. Forced to pass the ball 63 times, Goff threw for 445 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also was sacked four times and threw three interceptions, two of them returned for touchdowns in the fourth quarter by linebacker Collin Ellis.
"For the first time out, I thought it was a heck of a ballgame," Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. "Hopefully we're not going to put that kind of pressure on him. He's a different player."
Lasco said, "I can't even put it in words the difference from the Jared Goff in 2013 and right now."
Goff said he feels more comfortable, and said everything on the field has slowed down. He's nervous before every game, he said, but less so now than a year ago.
"I didn't know what to expect," he said of his debut.
How does he think he performed? "Not well enough to win," Goff said.
Teammates saw enough offseason growth in Goff that they elected him one of five team captains.
"Last year his voice wasn't as powerful as it is now," Lasco said. "It's real comforting knowing we can look to him for leadership, and he can go out there and make those big-time plays. And not be afraid to make mistakes -- that's the most important thing."
Safety Stefan McClure said fooling Goff with coverages is much more difficult now.
"He has a lot more control and command over the offense," McClure said. "He's reading the defense a lot faster. Even when we try to disguise, he's picking up that stuff on the run."
Dykes isn't losing any sleep over the forecast. "In my next life," he said, "I want to come back as a weatherman."
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald took exception to those comments at the time, telling the Chicago Sun Times, "If anybody were to question the integrity of myself, our program or our players, I question theirs. But if our guys get dinged up, they're instructed to go down, not hobble off to the sideline."
A year later, both men declined to be drawn into the conversation. "I haven't thought about it. There's not much you can do about that," Dykes said.
Big Ten officials will call the game, but Dykes said they don't have much influence on such things. "If someone's injured, they're injured," he said. "I don't anticipate it being an issue."
Asked about it on the Big Ten coaches teleconference call Tuesday, Fitzgerald said, "We haven't talked about it at all."
Cal at Northwestern, 12:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2