Six-man competition to be Cal's next quarterback

Six-man competition to be Cal's next quarterback

April 8, 2011

BERKELEY (AP) California coach Jeff Tedford has about the deepest and most wide-open quarterback competition he can remember, and there's one common theme among the candidates this spring.

"They all have to get a lot better," Tedford said.

Six different players are competing for the job, and there's no clear front-runner to fill the spot vacated by Kevin Riley. At the very least, Tedford hopes a few emerge from an overcrowded competition this spring.

"You'd like to be able to have somebody separate themselves," Tedford said. "If that's going to happen in the spring, I don't know. But we have the summer and the fall camp as well."

A sputtering offense and uncertainty at quarterback were some of the biggest drawbacks for the Golden Bears last season.

They posted just a 5-7 record and missed out on a bowl game for the first time since Tedford's initial season in 2002. Tedford has since revamped his staff and plans to take a more active role calling plays next season.

The next step comes this spring. Brock Mansion, Beau Sweeney, Allan Bridgford, Austin Hinder, Ryan Wertenberger and transfer Zach Maynard all are vying to be the starting quarterback.

And all of them want to lead the Bears back to prominence.

"We don't want to have any .500 or below .500 years," Mansion said. "That's not what we came to do. That's not what the coaches are expecting from us. We want to get back to the top teams, we want to compete for a Pac-10 title and get back on the national spotlight."

All the quarterbacks have their own levels of experience and style.

Mansion started the final four games last season after Riley suffered a season-ending knee injury. While he might be the favorite in spring camp, he wasn't effective enough last year to be declared the permanent starter.

Maynard, a dual-threat quarterback who started at Buffalo in 2009, didn't enroll at Cal until January. And the rest of the candidates have even more limited starting quarterback experience.

"Each guy definitely has their own nuances and strengths," receiver Keenan Allen said. "For us, it doesn't matter what quarterback is out there, we still have to run our routes the same and we still have to catch the ball the same. It's still a competition right now, so we'll see who's the best man who can get it in our hands."

This spring also begins a year of other changes at Cal.

The Bears have been on a constant road trip already, practicing at high schools and small colleges in the Bay Area and beyond while the facilities at Berkeley are renovated. The 15 allotted spring practices are spread out through the end of April and will take the Bears from Oakland to Berkeley to as far as Sacramento.

They also will play their home games in the fall across San Francisco Bay in the World Series champion Giants' ballpark while Memorial Stadium receives an extensive, 321 million renovation.

"It's definitely something we have to get used to," receiver Marvin Jones said. "We're in a good situation. It's all a process. We're not used to traveling, going off site and stuff like that so much. We're going to get used to it, and it's just going to be the same."

The one thing Cal would like to get settled soon is quarterback.

Whoever wins the job, they'll be working with new offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik who was the offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders last season and is a previous Cal assistant along with other new assistants.

So there's only so much time to install a new offense and put a quarterback in place.

"I'm not going to put a timeline on it and force it," Tedford said. "When I feel that we have a guy that has good control of the offense and performing, then he'll take that position."

Casspi thanks Kings after trade to Pelicans: 'Definitely isn't easy'

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USATSI

Casspi thanks Kings after trade to Pelicans: 'Definitely isn't easy'

The Kings traded Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the forward to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

I want to thank the Sacramento Kings organization for the opportunity to play basketball in front of the great fans of Sacramento. My wife and I felt in Sacramento like being home and this is something we both will cherish for ever. This definitely isn't easy for me and my family to leave, and you all know how much I love our city, organization and fans but the time has come. I want to wish nothing but success to my Kings. I will definitely will follow and cheer from afar. 
Always a big part of my heart, 
Omri #18

Casspi, 28, averaged 5.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 18 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

A's spring training Day 7: Rosales readies himself everywhere

A's spring training Day 7: Rosales readies himself everywhere

MESA, Ariz. — Adam Rosales has a real simple plan for which infield position he chooses to try to get work at.

“Wherever there’s less guys, I go over there,” he explained with a smile.

The sun came out and the A’s finally got on the field for their first full-squad workout Monday after being rained out Sunday. That meant Rosales, back for his second go-round as an Athletic, got his first chance to prepare for what figures to be a super-utility role, which is how he’s carved out a nine-year major league career.

All indications are that he’ll be the primary backup infielder, capable of spelling Jed Lowrie at second base, Marcus Semien at shortstop, Trevor Plouffe at third and even fill in at first base or left field in a pinch.

Though Rosales, who spent 2010-12 with Oakland and re-signed in January on a one-year $1.25 million deal, is well-versed in preparing himself all over the diamond, one position in particular is one that he says is most difficult to master in limited time.

“Shortstop,” he offered without hesitation. “There’s a lot more going on there, a lot less room for error. At shortstop, especially with a guy like Mike Trout running, you’ve got to be in good rhythm, good timing, get rid of the ball and make an accurate throw.”

Depending on how the A’s prioritize their 25-man roster, Rosales could very well be the only backup infielder. That means fellow infielders Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder would start in the minors if the A’s were to keep a fifth outfielder or third catcher. But because the A’s have some players who can fill in at multiple spots, there’s numerous ways they can choose to configure the roster when it comes time to pare it down.

Rosales, 33, said walking back into the A’s clubhouse for the first time made him “feel like I’m back home.” So much of the support staff — equipment guys, clubhouse guys — are the same as when he was here before. He was also happy to see former infield mate Mark Ellis walk through the door Sunday. He says Ellis, a teammate from 2010-11, instilled in him the importance of being a great defender. Ellis is working as a part-time spring instructor.

“He told me, the No. 1 reason he was in the big leagues was because of this,” Rosales said, holding up his glove. “I was such a young player then. I’d always work with him, how to turn double plays. Just to have him around is awesome.”

NOTEWORTHY: Sonny Gray and Kendall Graveman were among the pitchers who faced hitters for the first time this season. Bruce Maxwell caught Gray, his first time behind the plate with Gray other than the one inning Gray threw in an abbreviated start at Anaheim toward the end of last season. Maxwell said Gray’s changeup in particular looked good.

Manager Bob Melvin has been very impressed early on with Graveman’s command. Graveman said he’s trying to improve his changeup, in an effort to induce weak contact from righties and get them on the their front foot, which could then make him more effective on the inside corner.

CAMP BATTLE: There could be a good fight for the seventh and final spot in the bullpen, and it would seem being left-handed could give someone an edge. Sean Doolittle is the only lefty currently projected among the A’s top six relievers. Melvin had good things to say about Daniel Coulombe, a lefty who made 35 appearances in relief last year and also saw a bit of time with Oakland in 2015. Coulombe posted a 4.53 ERA last season but struck out 54 in 47 2/3 innings.