Tedford tempers expectations for freshman QB
Zach Kline came to California in January with plenty of hype as
the big-armed passer the Golden Bears have been seeking in recent
Kline will enter his first spring practice far down on the depth
chart as coach Jeff Tedford says he is worried about unrealistic
expectations for the heralded freshman.
”I absolutely have concern about that,” Tedford said Monday.
”There’s such a thing of putting too much on a kid early. I want
him to come in here and be able concentrate on what he’s doing and
learn the offense and do his best without all the
Kline will ease into things when Cal begins spring practice
March 13. Returning starter Zach Maynard once again will be in the
No. 1 role, followed by backup Allan Bridgford. Austin Kinder and
Kyle Boehm are also in the mix with Kline, leaving five
quarterbacks to split the work in spring ball.
Kline is a four-star recruit from nearby Danville who threw 36
touchdown passes as a senior. He was widely considered to be one of
the top 10 quarterbacks in the nation, with one of the strongest
arms of any incoming freshman.
By enrolling in January, Kline gets a head start on adjusting to
college, which could increase his chances of playing as a freshman.
But Tedford said he still has plenty of work to do.
”There are some other guys in front of him who have
experience,” Tedford said. ”He’s a talent and working really
hard. He’s a very good player, there’s no doubt about that. But he
has to go through the basics. It’s a different game at this level.
I don’t think we need to put any added pressure on him.”
Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo, is coming off his first season
at Cal. He completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,990 yards, 17
touchdowns and 12 interceptions while leading the Bears to a 7-6
record last season.
Maynard showed improvement in his first season as starter,
especially after a midseason drought that included four losses in
five games and seven interceptions in a pair of losses to Southern
California and UCLA.
Maynard completed 68 percent of his passes over the final four
regular-season games, with five touchdowns and only one
interception as the Bears won three of four to make it back to a
bowl game following a one-year absence from the postseason.
”That’s when he really started managing the game well and he
let it come to him,” Tedford said. ”He was smart with the
football, didn’t turn the football over. That’s what he needs to
continue to do, understand the speed of the game. He’s taken big
steps to understanding what we’re doing on offense. Now with his
experience he understands how to manage the game.”
Maynard struggled in a 21-10 Holiday Bowl loss to Texas,
throwing for only 180 yards and an interception, but Tedford hopes
to see more improvement this season.
While quarterback gets the most outside attention in spring
ball, there will be plenty of focus on replacing key starters on
the defensive front seven and offensive line.
Among the key players who left after last season are Pac-12
defensive player of the year Mychal Kendricks and fellow starting
linebacker D.J. Holt, defensive linemen Trevor Guyton and Ernest
Owusu, and offensive linemen Mitchell Schwartz and Justin
”There’s a lot of guys who are young,” Tedford said. ”It’s
their turn now to take the next step. That’s what you use spring
football for, to try to get those guys to step up. We know what a
lot of our starters in the past can do, but now how can you replace
some of the guys who have left with younger guys?”
Spring practice will end April 21 with either a game or
controlled scrimmage, depending on how many players are able to
participate. Cal still is unable to use its stadium, which is under
renovation, but Tedford said construction remains on track for the
Bears to open their season at the Memorial Stadium on Sept. 1