This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In the end, it's not the five picks that frustrated Jared Goff the most.
It's the one deflection that mattered.
Cal's junior quarterback, who many have tabbed as the first passer taken in next year's NFL Draft, looked about ready to pull out his hair as he reflected on an epically low-performing night. He set his career-high in picks, tied a season-low with only two touchdowns, and only occasionally looked the part of future NFL franchise gunslinger.
And yet he still had a chance to win, and fell short on a failed fourth down conversion with 36 seconds left, the only attempt Cal made all night on fourth down. Boobie Hobbs batted down the Golden Bears' hopes for an upset, and Goff's hope for redemption.
"We had a good play call and thought we had what we liked," Goff said. "They just made a play. They made plays all night."
Shockingly, Goff did not.
He did throw for 340 yards, including a score that might've been the most beautiful pass of the night. He targeted Trevor Davis in the end zone, putting a ball on a rope to the far sideline and placing it where defender Cory Butler-Byrd didn't have a chance to defend it.
But the few triumphs were eclipsed by many more moments of futility. Some of them were freakishly athletic plays by the Utes: Gionni Paul nagged a diving interception off a tipped pass, and Dominique Hatfield ran a slant route better than Goff's receiver did.
Other turnovers were squarely on Goff's shoulders: a risky shot to the end zone that went to Justin Thomas, or an under-thrown pass under pressure that Hatfield picked again.
Goff acknowledged he felt Utah's secondary had spent its bye dreaming up wrinkles specifically for him. Utah's defensive line put him under pressure late, and forced bad throws.
A handful of drops by his receivers didn't help but Goff didn't place any blame on them.
"He just struggled a little bit tonight," coach Sonny Dykes said. "I think we all wanted to win really badly, especially Jared, and sometimes when you want to win really badly, you might try to do a little too much. Next time, we'll react a little differently."
Cal has at least a week until next time. But after a bye: UCLA, USC and Oregon in a row.
Last season, Cal struggled to finish after a quick start. With their first defeat, they'll have time to reflect on how they can react a little differently.