Fall training camp updates: race for starting quarterback is impossibly close

Riley McActee/Staff

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The quarterback race, of course, has been at the top of everyone’s list of things to watch at fall camp.

And it’s been a roller coaster.

On the first day, Austin Hinder showed up in force. He looked like he might be the top quarterback of the three.

Nearly a week later, it’s hard to say the same. The junior has seen his repetitions decline, and his play has been less and less impressive. The consensus now is that the actual race is between Jared Goff and Zach Kline.

That all said, Hinder did bounce back a bit on Saturday.

“I thought Hinder was better today,” said coach Sonny Dykes on Saturday. “Based on what I saw today, they all performed pretty well. I thought the timing was better. The accuracy was better — particularly with Hinder.”

Maybe Saturday was the beginning of a Hinder rebound, but it’s still difficult to think he’s any more than third place at this point.

Make no mistake about it — the race isn’t over yet, and Hinder isn’t out. He’s still getting some reps in 11-on-11 drills, and he could come out and impress when the pads go on on Monday. But right now, it looks like a showdown between Goff and Kline.

Which brings us to those two.

Zach Kline has impressed so far in camp. Though he’s been inconsistent at times, and though his goal of not having a turnover during camp is already shot, he has still made big throws.

“Kline is showing off his arm strength, and he’s also showing touch on his pass,” said wide receiver Bryce Treggs on Wednesday. “That’s something I feel he didn’t have in the spring.”

When watching Kline, it is clear he has the strongest arm of the three. He can thread footballs in between coverages that Hinder and Goff simply can’t. But those risky throws have come at a price, with several turnovers so far.

Goff, meanwhile, has a completely separate set of skills. He appears to perform a little better at running Dykes’ offense, which makes sense because he ran it in high school. In addition, his timing throws seem to be a bit better than Kline’s, although Dykes has seen great progress in both of them.

“They’re both anticipating throws better,” Dykes said on Thursday. “The more reps they get, the more they see things clearly.”

Goff just seems to be better at the touch throws. Though he can’t thread the needle quite like Kline can, he seems to be able to hit a receiver in stride with the slightest bit more consistency.

Both of them have shown another trait that Dykes is reported to like: the ability to run. Both have had scrambles in 11-on-11s that went for first downs.

Though their skill sets vary, the race right now is impossibly close. Hinder is down, but he’s not out. Meanwhile, Kline and Goff couldn’t be closer. Dykes has said that he wants a decision in two weeks, but from the first week, there is no clear front-runner. Only time will tell whether a natural leader will emerge or the coaching staff will have to force the issue and name a starter.

Contact Riley McAtee at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @riley_mcatee

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