Pieces falling into place for Cal football 

click to enlarge Zach Maynard is expected to be under center in Cal’s opener after finishing strong in the Bears’ 2011 campaign, when the team called AT&T Park its home. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • US Presswire file photo
  • Zach Maynard is expected to be under center in Cal’s opener after finishing strong in the Bears’ 2011 campaign, when the team called AT&T Park its home.

Quarterbacks were the first subject as Cal coach Jeff Tedford had a media teleconference call Monday.

Danville quarterback Zach Kline came to Cal a semester early, so he’s eligible for spring practice, which will start March 13. How much does that help him?

“It’s always a help for a quarterback to participate in practice,” Tedford said. “Just being in a huddle, getting to know the offense, all those things help.”

Tedford said he had not made a decision on whether to redshirt Kline this fall, but that seems the most likely scenario. There are four quarterbacks ahead of him in experience: Zach Maynard, Allen Bridgeford, Austin Hinder and Kyle Boehm. And even Andrew Luck redshirted in his first year at Stanford.

Maynard is the unquestioned starter after a 2011 season that started erratically, to the point where it seemed he might lose his starting job, to a finish that showed why Tedford liked him.

“His last four games, he completed 68 percent of his passes and had a rating of 158,” noted Tedford, adding that much of that was due to the fact that he cut down on his turnovers. “He needs to keep improving, adjusting to the speed of the game, realizing what he can do in our offense.”

There have been rumors that academic problems might sideline Maynard in the fall, but Tedford squashed that talk. “He’s not in trouble now, and I don’t anticipate he’ll have any problems in the fall.” Tedford and his staff kept close watch on their players’ academic performances or, as he put it, “realizing what is most important to them: their education.”

Maynard’s favorite target last year was his half brother, Keenan Allen, and Tedford was asked if he expected Allen to enter the NFL draft after this season, as has often been speculated.

“I haven’t even thought about that,” Tedford said. “I know his parents really want him to graduate. We’ll face that when it comes up.”

Last season was a difficult one, as the Bears had to play at AT&T Park, a baseball stadium that is an awkward fit for football, as venerable Memorial Stadium was being remodeled and retrofitted.

Now, things are starting to look up for Cal. The athletic performance center (Simpson Center) that Tedford had campaigned for is in place.

“The players love it,” he said. “Everything is in one place now, including the academic center.”

The stadium construction is supposed to be mostly complete by Sept. 1, when the Bears open the season by hosting Nevada, but for now, the Bears are still on the move. The final day of spring practice, April 14, is Cal Day on campus, so the intrasquad game that day will be open to the public. But at Witter Field — the rugby field where they’ve been practicing — seating and parking is very limited.

But Tedford hasn’t lost his sense of humor. Asked if he’d been able to take time off, he said, “Last weekend was the first time I didn’t have anything scheduled, so my wife [Donna] talked me into hiking halfway up Mount Diablo. That almost killed me.”

After that, coaching and answering questions about quarterbacks is a breeze.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at glenndickey36@gmail.com.

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Glenn Dickey

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