Coach Sonny Dykes said during a Pac-12 coaches teleconference on Monday morning that he has no better idea who his starting quarterback will be than he did a month ago when spring practice ended 44 days ago.
He added that he’d like to have it figured out within 12 to 15 practices after fall camp begins on Aug. 5. In other words, we should know the starting QB in about 100 days.
As of right now, Zack Kline, Jared Goff and Austin Hinder all remain in the mix.
“Had a chance to go back and review everything and really felt similar as we did after wrapping spring ball up,” Dykes said. “We felt like we had three guys that we thought were very different in what they brought to the table, but all three of them were good players, good leaders, were competitive guys we felt like could handle being the starting quarterback at Cal and all the stuff that goes with that.
“We felt similar after going back and looking at tape. Guys traded days, so there were days you’d walk off the field and you’d say, `OK, Zack Kline’s the guy.’ And then the next day, you’d say, `Jared Goff’s the guy,’ and then Austin Hinder would make a run. I don’t think anybody solidified the position during the spring.”
Asked how quickly after fall practice begins he’d like to settle on a starter, Dykes said, “As soon as possible … the best thing would be one of the guys really improves over the summer and takes over the job a week into camp and we just move on from there.
“I think we’re going to need to make a decision by practice 12, practice 15, probably at the latest. We’re hoping somebody is the clear-cut winner.”
Clearly, Dykes wishes he had a No. 1 headed into the summer. He wasn’t so clear about whether having three players competing for the job is a bad thing.
“I kind of believe in the old adage that if you have two quarterbacks, really means you don’t have any. So if you have three that means you really don’t have any,” he said. “We’ll see how it plays out.
“I hope one of them ends up being really, really good and playing good, and the others continue to get better and better, and we have a quarterback competition that plays out from year to year. That’s what you’d like to have.
“Whoever the starter is, you’d like to have the backup right at his heels, constantly nipping and fighting and battling and never letting the starter get too settled.”
Prodded further to explain those remarks, Dykes condeded it may not be immediate smooth sailing for the new man.
“I think whoever the starter is is going to go through some growing pains. They’ve never started a college football game,” he said. “But when you sit down and say what makes a good college quarterback, the guys certainly possess the qualities.
“It’s going to be up to us to bring out the best in them, put them in situations to be successful. It’s going to be up to them to play well and take the job over and be a great leader. I think all three of these guys have what it takes.”
– Injury update: The Bears went through spring workouts without a substantial number of players expected to play key roles in the fall. Included among those sidelined by injury or surgery rehab were running backs Brendan Bigelow and Daniel Lasco, tight ends Richard Rodgers and Spencer Hagan and defensive end Sione Sina.
Dykes said all are progressing as hoped.
“I can’t think of anybody that won’t have a chance to be healthy by fall camp,” he said, adding that a couple walk-on players will be shelved following ACL knee surgeries. “Everybody else I think will be 100 percent ready to go when we start fall practice.”
– Early spring evaluation: Dykes wrestled with whether to hold spring workouts early, finishing the Saturday before spring break, or to split them up, staddling the break. He chose the former timetable, and is satisfied with the decision.
“The great thing for our players is it gave us a chance to really get away for a week in spring break and relax, then get back here and really hit the ground running,” he said.
Good progress was made during a five-week weight program after spring break, Dykes said.
“It gave them an opportunity, too, to take what they learned in the spring and go out on the field and apply it,” he said. “Throw 7-on-7 and do individual routes, walk through blocking schemes and defenses and blitzes and adjustments and all that stuff. Our players have done a great job of organizing themselves and getting out on the field and doing that kind of stuff.”
He also said the early schedule will allow players dinged up during workouts more time to heal fully before fall camp.
The coaching staff used the time to get a jump on spring recruting, to evaluate players on the current roster and map out the future.
“We all had some concerns when we started talking about getting it done that early,” he said, “but after it was over we really liked the early part of spring ball.”