NOTE: This is the first installment in a series of day-by-day previews heading into spring practice, which begins March 11.
RETURNING STARTER: Kevin Riley
WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR: Brock Mansion
POSSIBLE SURPRISE: Nobody
THE BREAKDOWN: An open quarterback competition is becoming an annual rite of passage in the spring, although coach Jeff Tedford admitted that Riley has a substantial advantage over the others this time around. That’s something Tedford was more reluctant to say last spring and fall, indicating he has a lot of confidence in his two-year starter.
Tedford acknowledged Riley was a bit off and on last season, but also went out of his way to point out that much of the time he didn’t get the help he needed around him. This has been a message Tedford has hammered on in most of his public comments about the quarterback situation since the season ended.
“He plays really well at times and sometimes there are things he can do better,” Tedford said. “As you watch the tape, there are a lot of people around him that need to help him with that. I feel like Kevin has made strides and he’s going to continue to make strides with his experience.”
Tedford said Riley “has a substantial leg up” in the competition but “it’s not a lock by any means.” He said Riley, Mansion and Sweeney will get equal reps during the spring.
“Experience is a big thing, but competition is also good,” Tedford said. “Beau and Brock are going to compete again in the springtime, not only versus Kevin but to create some depth at that position and kind of stratify where they belong.”
Tedford said he still has confidence in Mansion, who fell behind Sweeney on the depth chart last season despite the fact that he has been in the program a year longer. Tedford said Mansion needs to improve both the physical and mental side of the game, and is confident he will do so with increased experience.
“I think last year (Mansion) was a little disappointed,” Tedford said. “He probably treated it as a setback when Beau was named the backup. As we’ve moved forward and he’s maintained a good attitude, I think he’s looking forward to the opportunity to compete. The more he’s into it, controlling everything mentally and physically, and the more opportunity he gets, he’ll continue to improve just like anybody.”