SAN FRANCISCO-"And the Children Shall Lead." It's more than just the title of an original Star Trek episode. On Wednesday evening at AT&T Park, it was a young child who fired perhaps the most pointed question at Cal head football coach Jeff Tedford during the question-and-answer period of the AT&T Coaches Tour event.
Shortly into the give-and-take with the crowd, a young towheaded boy stepped up to the mike. Before the boy opened his mouth, Tedford chuckled, sensing just what was in store.
"This is a quarterback question, I can feel it," Tedford said, eliciting a chorus of laughs from the crowd. "I can feel it. Somebody put him up to it. Everybody always puts the little kids up to ask the quarterback question."
"Is Kevin Riley quarterbacking again?" the young boy asked, followed by an even louder cacophony of laughter.
"I've done this a few times. I know," Tedford laughed. "Yes, he is playing quarterback."
After some more laughter, the child asked who Riley's backups would be. Smart kid. Probably gunning for my job.
"Very smart. That's the way to ask who the starter is, right?" Tedford said, to more laughter. "The quarterback situation, we're very competitive there. Kevin obviously has a step up because of his experience level and game time. Beau Sweeney, right now, is No. 2, and he's going to compete very strongly for that spot. Brock (Mansion) is in third right now."
As BearTerritory readers already know, Mansion sprained his left foot/ankle during spring practice, but Tedford offered an update to a small gathering of press after the event.
"He's doing fine," Tedford said. "He had a sprained ankle/foot, and now he's had time to recover. I don't think he's 100 percent yet, but he's back at it (throwing to teammates). Brock's pretty good at rehab and doing what he's told. It's just unfortunate that he didn't get to play down the stretch in the spring."
Tedford also spoke on several other injuries, saying that sophomore linebacker Mychal Kendricks is healing well, but freshman defensive lineman Keni Kaufusi will likely miss "most of the season" recovering from shoulder surgery.
Another injury that Tedford addressed during the Q&A was the shoulder surgery that freshman QB Allan Bridgford underwent that cost him all of last season.
"He's throwing now. He just started throwing this week, so he'll be in the mix," Tedford said. "It'd be great to see him out there, because he was very frustrated by that (injury), obviously. He'll be in the mix, and he's got a lot of ability, so we can't wait to get him back into it. He's a very quick study and a very smart guy. He's competitive. So, it'll be nice to see him start to compete a little bit."
As for the quarterback competition heading into fall, Tedford addressed that during the Q&A, as well.
"We're going to let it play out, all through the summer and all through fall camp, and then we'll make a decision about a week and a half before the first game on who's going to be the starter," Tedford said. "Right now, Kevin, his whole deal through the spring was consistency-trying to get him to be more consistent with his fundamentals-and he's really worked hard at that. He's a great competitor, and I know he wants the job and he provides some leadership there for us, as well."
When asked about the offensive line, Tedford gave fans at least a glimpse of the possible starting five in the trenches.
"I think we have a chance to be solid there," Tedford told the crowd. "We really do. I think Chris Guarnero is going to be the center, we have a couple returners. Mitchell Schwartz will be a tackle, we're going to move Matt Summers-Gavin to tackle. We're very athletic up there."
Later, Tedford specified that Summers-Gavin would take the place of departed senior Mike Tepper at left tackle.
"We have some flexibility with Donovan Edwards playing at center and guard and tackle. But, right now, coming out of the spring, Matt was our best left tackle," Tedford said. "But, Schwartz was hurt, so we've had to do a lot of moving around."
Still undecided is who will be the No. 2 running back behind the prohibitive favorite for the starting job, junior Shane Vereen.
"I don't know who that second back is going to be," Tedford said. "I do know this: Shane is very talented. He can do a lot of things. But, we cannot hand him the ball 42 times like the Stanford game. After that, he wasn't the same for the next two games. We kind of beat him up in that game, and he played great and all that, but we can't do that. We have to utilize him in some places, probably even at some receiver as well, with our youth at receiver. But, Shane can do it all.
"We have to be very smart, and Coach (Ron) Gould, our running backs coach, does a phenomenal job of making sure he's spelling those guys and keeping them healthy and things like that, so one of the goals, and one of our challenges going into fall camp will be who is that next back, or maybe who are the next two backs to help spell Shane a little bit and keep him fresh."
With all the depth-chart talk behind him, Tedford also addressed the looming spectre of Pac-10 conference expansion as the room emptied after the event.
"I think there could be some benefits to it," Tedford said. "I need to learn more about it, obviously, and see how the league would be aligned and what the rotation would be, with who you play and how often. I'm anxious to find out more about it. I don't know enough specifics. I think it's exciting. It's exciting to have a championship game. That would be pretty cool. It'd be competitive, I know that."
During his prepared comments earlier, the Bears' head coach was a bit more demonstrative in his thoughts on the subject.
"Obviously, this Pac-16 thing adds a lot of buzz. There's no question about it. It should be very exciting," Tedford said. "Actually, I'd like to get another cut at Texas after they kind of screwed us. I don't know how your guys' memory is, but I know when we got screwed out of the Rose Bowl that year by Texas, I won't forget that, so hopefully, we can get another shot."
And that shot may come earlier than when the two teams finally meet on the gridiron. That shot may come in the recruiting battles in the Lone Star State.
"I think in recruiting, for a kid who says, 'Hey, I want to play these teams,' or even for a Texas kid, we could go to Texas and recruit more, because they know that they get to go home and play Texas teams and stuff like that," said Tedford on how conference expansion changes recruiting. "It has its benefits."