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September 12, 2018

Head coach Justin Wilcox removed any remaining suspense about Cal’s quarterback situation Monday night, saying Chase Garbers will start and Brandon McIlwain will continue to offer a change of pace at the position Saturday against FCS opponent Idaho State.

Last week, Wilcox waited until minutes before the kickoff at BYU to announce that Garbers would make his first collegiate start. The week prior, in the season opener, Ross Bowers started and played six possessions before sitting out the second half.

Garbers started all but two drives, generally giving way to McIlwain’s run-heavy package in the middle of the field. The two combined to go 23-for-35 for 214 yards against BYU, operating an offense that scored 21 points, averaged 5.5 yards per play and went 8-for-15 on third-down conversions.

Garbers, a redshirt freshman, and McIlwain, a transfer from South Carolina, were especially effective on the ground — racking up 119 yards on 21 carries.

“I think it helps our team,” Wilcox said of the quarterbacks’ ability to run. “I know being on the defensive side of it, it creates some issues in how you want to fit the runs with the quarterback involved and if you’re going to essentially use every defender in the run defense.”

Bowers, who made 13 consecutive starts before sitting out at BYU, completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,039 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season. But the incumbent hasn’t shown the mobility necessary for an offense that is trending toward more zone-read and run-pass-option plays.

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