- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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It hasn't been easy for Brock Mansion to be patient. He's been thinking about being California's quarterback since his redshirt freshman season. He's seen the Bears' offense frequently struggle with Kevin Riley running things, and he's heard fans griping and wanting a change at the position. But he never got the call from coach Jeff Tedford.
Now the junior has been handed the keys to the offense. Riley's career is done after a knee injury suffered last weekend at Oregon State. Mansion can practically end a spring QB competition before it begins by salvaging the Bears' season with strong performances that produce some wins down the season's final stretch.
What does Mansion want to accomplish? Seemingly everything.
"I want to cut it loose and play football," he said. "I want to put some points on the board. I want to be consistent through every single series. I don't want to have any three-and-outs. I want to move the ball down the field, and I want a lot of first downs."
If he does that, Cal will win Saturday at Washington State and probably win a few more, or at least enough -- two of the final four -- required to become bowl eligible.
The first task is avoiding making big mistakes that could cause the Bears to become the first Pac-10 team to lose to the Cougars in 16 games. If Mansion is nervous or uncomfortable making his first start on the road, early mistakes could be catastrophic, particularly in view of Cal's poor performances on the road this season.
"Well, he better be comfortable," running back Shane Vereen said. "He better be ready to go. I know he will be. I have full, complete confidence."
Mansion is a big, strapping Texan -- 6-foot-5, 232 pounds -- with good athletic ability. He can move in the pocket. Two years ago in spring practice, he was expected to challenge Riley for the starting job. But he lost out, and then went back-and-forth with Beau Sweeney for the backup job before re-taking it this fall.
If Mansion struggles, however, it's not likely that Tedford would wait long to go with Sweeney.
"Anytime you go into a game, and it's your first start, there's going to be the natural anxiety of starting your first college football game," Tedford said. "But Brock has a very good mindset. He's confident. He'll be prepared to play."
Mansion said he's kept "grinding and grinding" believing there would be a payoff at the end. And so here it is. What happens going forward is up to him.
It hasn't been easy for Brock Mansion to be patient. He's been thinking about being California's quarterback since his redshirt freshman season. He's seen the Bears' offense frequently struggle with Kevin Riley running things, and he's heard fans griping and wanting a change at the position.