Sweeney Is Making an Impact in The Pocket

Redshirt Freshman Is Building Confidence as A Backup Quarterback For the Bears' Offense

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Late in fall camp, coach Jeff Tedford narrowed the Cal football team's quarterback competition down to Kevin Riley and Brock Mansion, and when the season started Mansion was the Bears' clear No. 2. Since then, Beau Sweeney has made Tedford rethink that decision.

Those who watched all of No. 24 Cal's loss to Oregon saw Sweeney, not Mansion, enter the game in the fourth quarter and complete one of five passes. Tedford had said earlier in the week that the battle for the backup quarterback spot was open-the Bears often evaluate positions from week to week in order to foster competition-and Sweeney showed enough in practice to wrestle away the job, at least for last Saturday.

Tedford made it clear that Sweeney's re-entering the picture for playing time has been a result of things that the redshirt freshman has done well in practice, not of any struggles by Mansion.

"(Sweeney has) done a nice job," Tedford said on Wednesday. "He's been consistent ... with the offense and the plays and so on, and with throwing the ball he's been accurate."

Sweeney's only game experience before Cal's trip to Oregon was a short appearance in the blowout win over Eastern Washington, when he attempted one throw and mostly just handed the ball off to run out the clock. Getting into a game where he could let loose a little-particularly in notoriously loud Autzen Stadium-was a valuable experience for the redshirt freshman.

"Just to get in regardless of what time in the game, just to be in there and running the offense against a different-colored jersey on the other side and in a hostile environment," he said. "I think that it gives me confidence."

Confidence that now could come into play at any point. Competition for the backup spot is open again this week, with Sweeney and Mansion splitting the second-team reps. Depending on the coaches' decision, Sweeney could suit up on Saturday just a Kevin Riley injury away from entering a crucial game against No. 7 USC.

The prospect doesn't seem to faze him.

"I prepare the same every week, so it doesn't change anything preparation-wise," Sweeney said.

"I haven't gotten the same reps as these guys, but mentally I've been studying a lot. I pay attention to what's going on with them. I just try to take the mental reps, see what they're doing and it's helped me out a lot so far."

Summers-Gavin Has Shoulder Injury

Starting left guard Matt Summers-Gavin has not practiced this week due to a shoulder injury that he sustained during the loss to Oregon.

Tedford said that the injury is a sprained AC joint, and that the redshirt freshman is questionable for Saturday's game against the Trojans. If Summers-Gavin is unable to play, junior Mark Boskovich will start in his place.

It wouldn't be an unfamiliar position for Boskovich, who started the Bears' last 10 games in 2008 after an early injury to Chris Guarnero. Should he start on Saturday, Tedford said, it "won't change anything" about the offense.

Boskovich was beaten out for the starting spot in fall camp by Summers-Gavin, but Tedford said that the junior has improved noticeably since last season. He was one of the few constants on Cal's offensive line last year, as injuries plagued the group and caused a lot of fluctuation. Eight different linemen started games; six returned this season.

Now, the experience is coming back around as a boost.

"Last year at this time we were taking our lumps pretty good, but now I think that experience will be beneficial," Tedford said. "As you get into the season it's going to challenge your depth."

Tags: JEFF TEDFORD, CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS, BEAU SWEENEY, CAL FOOTBALL


Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]



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