Monday, March 5, 2012
Tedford doesn't see de-Kline in Maynard
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
Certified workaholic Jeff Tedford actually took last weekend off. He climbed Mt. Diablo with his wife. He got to look around and smell the fresh air. You know: Just breathe.
Heavily, in fact. "She tried to kill me," Tedford quipped.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford is confident in returning quarterback Zach Maynard.
It appears that Tedford, however, didn't experience any profound revelations about his quarterback situation atop the mountain. While Bears fans have long been clamoring for the second-coming of Aaron Rodgers -- many teams have, by the way -- it appears they might have to settle for the second-coming of Zach Maynard.
And, yes, Tedford is aware that fans are skeptical about Maynard and are eager to see true freshman Zach Kline, the nation's No. 2 prep quarterback, who graduated early in order to participate in spring practices.
When asked about what Maynard needs to work on, Tedford instead talked about what he did well over the last third of the season.
"I think he's taken big steps understanding what we're doing on offense and I think through his experience he understands how to manage the game," he said.
And when asked about Kline, Tedford tried to put the brakes on runaway expectations.
"While he's a gifted guy, I think we have to be careful to not put too much pressure on him," he said.
Tedford then invoked a name: Kyle Boller. Some of you might recall the nickname applied to Boller by certain wide-eyed Cal fans when he arrived in 1999: Baby Jesus. Yeah, that indicates high -- impossible? -- expectations. Boller was mostly a babe in the woods until Tedford arrived in 2002 and transformed a less than 50 percent passer with 38 interceptions over his first three years into a first-round NFL draft pick.
So, sure, if Kline is lights-out from the beginning, he might get into the mix, but Maynard and Allan Bridgford -- the top two quarterbacks from 2011 -- will be getting the first snaps when practices start on March 13.
"[It's] not much different than it looked before," Tedford said.
What Tedford sees -- and wants to build on -- is Maynard's final four regular season games. What fans who are skeptical see is Maynard's mid-season lull, punctuated by four interceptions vs. UCLA, and a poor performance in the Holiday Bowl against Texas.
Tedford also answered a question concerning persistent rumors of Maynard having academic eligibility issues: "There's nothing there as of now that would say anything different," he said.
As for Kline, Tedford is clearly aware of how hype works and how it can create all sorts of issues, on the field and in the locker room. He wants to avoid that. If Kline is the second-coming -- of Rodgers -- he needs to make that evident by his consistent play on the practice field. He needs to make everyone realize, from Tedford to his teammates, that he's the best quarterback on the roster right now and gives Cal its best chance to win in 2012.
"He's a very good player. There is no doubt about it," Tedford said. "But he's got to go through the bases. It's a different game at this level. We'll see how it goes but I don't think we need to put undue pressure on him."
While Tedford is no fan of spring games, the Bears will have a sort of spring game on April 21. It's uncertain of the format and location. Tedford said that if the Bears are healthy, it will be a full-go scrimmage.