Cal football revealed Davis Webb as its Week 1 2016 starting quarterback with a swanky video on Twitter.
QB – 1️⃣ pic.twitter.com/BvxxF4Xc9I
— Cal Football (@CalFootball) August 4, 2016
Were the highly-produced video package not pressure enough, the Texas Tech transfer must replace the No. 1 overall pick from this past spring’s NFL draft. No sweat, right?
Okay, so filling in for Jared Goff — a three-year starter and record-setter in his time at Cal — is a job that requires some serious diligence. Golden Bear head coach Sonny Dykes detailed how Webb is doing just that, last month at Pac-12 Media Days.
“Since he got on campus, he comes to work at 7:00 a.m. and leaves at 10:00 p.m. That’s what he does every day,” Dykes said. “Sits in [the coach’s office] with coach Babita, wants to watch film, and goes in the virtual reality room and does all these different things that he can do, wants to do on his own to make himself better.”
Goff’s the latest outstanding quarterback with whom Webb will be directly measured in his graduate season. He first took over at Texas Tech for Baker Mayfield, stepping in during the 2013 season to throw for 2,718 yards and 20 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
His numbers may not be eye-popping, but they represent a promising foundation for a freshman. After eviscerating Arizona State in the 2013 Holiday Bowl for four touchdowns — an Arizona State team that featured Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Will Sutton — Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury touted Webb’s ability to “never [blink] an eye…when he had his moment,” via ASAPSports.com.
Webb credited his preparation, applicable evidence of the kind of dedication Dykes mentioned.
“I pride myself on being prepared every day and I watched a lot of film and I knew what they were going to give me before they did anything,” Webb said.
With Webb entrenched as the No. 1 man after the kind of bowl game that could launch a great career, Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma, where in 2015, he developed into a Heisman Trophy contender.
In an injury-shortened 2014, Webb’s statistics were quite similar to his 2013 output. Hampered by a shoulder injury, he lost his spot to Patrick Mahomes — a Heisman candidate in his own right — before the 2015 season.
So, two Heisman contenders and the No. 1 draft pick; that’s the kind of standard set around Webb.
Asking him to reach comparable benchmarks may not be fair, but captaining Cal’s “bear-raid” offense effectively enough to compete in a loaded Pac-12 North would mark Webb’s foray in the Bay Area as a success. The Golden Bears are almost universally tabbed for fifth place in the division, trailing four teams that appear in various preseason Top 25 rankings. They were spared the cellar only by an Oregon State team that finished 2015 winless in the conference.
Webb’s announced role as QB-1 enables him to surprise some prognosticators. Though Cal replaces Goff and its top six pass catchers from 2015, Webb steps behind an offensive line with more than 90 total career starts.
According to one of those returning starters, tackle Steven Moore, Webb’s won trust through actions more than words.
“People don’t respect a graduate transfer who just steps in and starts acting like a leader like he’s been there the whole time,” Moore said. “[Webb] has done great just being in the back, but also being up front for the team. He says things when it’s necessary and acceptable.”
It won’t just be acceptable for Webb to take charge now. It’s his job.