The Takeaway: Quarterbacks

Commentary: Putting the Cal quarterbacks' spring into perspective by analyzing the top three story lines.

BERKELEY, Calif. – There are four months until the season begins Sept. 1 when California returns to a renovated Memorial Stadium, four months to consider every possibility of what could happen.

Four days removed from the end of spring practice, it is now time to reflect on what was learned and what it means moving forward.

Zach Maynard solid in spring game after bouncing in and out of practice for academics
The Takeaway: The improvement in the mental side of the game head coach Jeff Tedford spoke of all throughout the spring were on display as the incumbent accounted for two touchdowns in workmanlike fashion. Maynard can definitely run and throw and did both well without his top target in receiver Keenan Allen.

However, there are two lingering issues that won't be resolved until the fall. First, can the redshirt senior carry Cal past the top teams on the schedule like Ohio State and USC? He'll have to do so with significant turnover at receiver and up front.

Defenses will be focused on Allen and running back Isi Sofele, meaning Maynard must elevate his play to assist wideout Maurice Harris and the incoming freshmen and help bring them up to speed. The tools are there to do so, but that newfound maturity must match the physical skills.

Second and more importantly, will he be eligible to do so? Tedford and Maynard have been vehement that the signal-caller will be available in the fall, but his chronic absences have been more than troubling.

There are no less than 30 college football programs that would practice at 2 in the morning if it ensured having their starting quarterback available. It doesn't matter if it is Matt Barkley or Peyton Manning, every snap is incredibly valuable, and yet Maynard wasn't there for the Bears when it mattered.

Tedford repeated and consistently downplayed every time Maynard was not there, and maybe he is right. Players often miss practices in the spring. Maybe it was totally unavoidable and Maynard will be ready.

If he isn't, it is downright scary on many fronts. That is a conversation to be saved for another day.

Backup Allan Bridgford struggles behind makeshift line Saturday
The Takeaway: The drop-off between the Blue and Gold offensive lines was dramatic, exacerbated by stellar defensive line play, so Bridgford's 11 of 20 effort passing can be forgiven. What cannot be excused were the egregious throws Bridgford made into double and triple-coverage under huge pressure, including an interception.

That's a mistake the quarterback cannot make at any level. A six year old would get chewed out if he tried that same approach, let alone a fourth-year junior.

It's disappointing because Bridgford seemed to have made progress throughout the spring, benefiting from first-team reps whenever Maynard was absent. Finally healthy, Tedford said he was sold on the former Mission Viejo (Calif.) product if he had to play.

But if you can't trust him in a spring scrimmage to be protective of the ball, what can you expect in a pressure situation? Maybe it was an aberration, but will have to be monitored going forward.

Kyle Boehm looks to have edge for No. 3 role, but fans clearly prefer Zach Kline
The Takeaway: Boehm, the redshirt freshman, made steady progress throughout the spring and quickly took the bulk of the reps in the three-man race behind Maynard and Bridgford. While Tedford has declined to name a frontrunner, it would be a surprise if Boehm didn't have the advantage whenever the next depth chart is released having shown a good understanding of the offense and mix of mobility and arm strength.

That's all well and good, but the real excitement as expected came with the early enrollee Kline. The Elite 11 standout from Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley immediately lived up to his stellar credentials, never being fazed by the changing level of competition.

Already showing off the best deep ball on the team, two throws at Edwards Stadium – a 40-yard touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion – confirmed Kline's status as the fans' choice going forward.

Now the questions is if the 2012 season goes sideways, the overriding question would be whether Tedford would play Kline and hope for signs of promise. That's the card Rick Neuheisel should have played at UCLA last season and just maybe he'd still be coaching instead of preparing for TV work with the new Pac-12 Network.

Tedford, who has been effusive in his praise of Kline's performance, seems unlikely to play him solely for the sake of extinguishing any sort of hot seat. If Kline does see action this year, it would be only because he is the Bears' best option to win games now and for the future.

Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and covers the Pac-12 for Fox Sports/ Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan. Top Stories