Nonetheless, Sweeney has held his own thus far in fall camp. No one is expecting him to compete for the starting job; however, he has displayed his strong arm and incredible running ability. Without trouble, he is the most athletic quarterback on the roster. On Tuesday, he continued to show his scrambling ability. It will be interesting to see how progresses in camp, especially during Thursday's scrimmage.
Speaking of, Thursday's scrimmage should be step one into determining who will start at quarterback for the August 30 season opener.
"We'll see if one (QB) separates; right now, it kind of goes back and forth and back and forth," head coach Jeff Tedford said. "We'll see if one establishes himself in the next couple of weeks. If not, we'll make a decision on who will take the first reps and go from there."
Overall, the quarterbacks had a better showing Tuesday compared to Monday when the secondary had the lay of land. Senior Nate Longshore continues to have a nice chemistry with the tight ends. Usually, he pairs with Cameron Morrah but Tuesday Drew Glover and Anthony Miller got into the action.
Kevin Riley is pushing Longshore. He had some nice pass and catch plays with stud receiver Michael Calvin. One play, Riley hit the redshirt freshman on a fade for a score in the red-zone. Longshore had his highlight in a similar situation but to senior LaReylle Cunningham.
Not missing the fun was redshirt freshman Brock Mansion. He has had a decent camp thus far. His only problem is playing behind two capable DI starting quarterbacks. He made some nice throws to true frosh TE Spencer Ladner. Ladner is bigger than the 230 lbs he was when he signed, but with his 6-foot-7 frame, he still looks thin despite being listed at 245 lbs. He may need a redshirt year to add more weight take the physical pounding of the college game.
The quarterbacks had one of their better practice sessions because the facets of the game came together on Tuesday. For instance, it helped that the receivers did not drop as many balls as the previous day. But decision-making may be the key in determining who will win the starting job.
"I thought all of the decisions [by the quarterbacks today] were pretty good," Tedford said.
"One of the receivers should have got out of bounds with eight seconds to play so we could get a time out, that was not good."
A strong run game will help ease the pressure on the quarterbacks this year. Sophomore Jahvid Best is penciled in as the starter but his game is not between the tackles per se. That role could belong to the remaining three scholarship running backs on the roster.
In goal line drills, redshirt freshman Shane Vereen and sophomore Tracy Slocum both looked impressive. Each was able to score multiple times against the defense. Injuries have taken their toll in camp thus; a few walk-ons took key reps in the drill.
"There were a couple walk-ins, but for the most part it was very competitive down there," said Tedford. "There was a lot of energy, excitement and good hitting. It was a good drill. I think the kids were really pumped up for it."
The goal line drill was designed to simulate real game situations. Artificial crowd noise was played in Memorial Stadium to create a hostile environment. While Slocum and Vereen did score four combined touchdowns, the defense had its share of highlights as well.
"I like that both sides had success and it was very competitive," head coach Jeff Tedford said of the drill.
It is no secret that Cal is expecting a number of true freshman and junior college transfers to contribute this season. Two such players, DT Kendrick Payne and RB Covaughn DeBoskie have been with the program since January after graduating high school early. One, WR Verran Tucker, did not join the team until days before fall camp. Nonetheless, as a unit, the newcomers have been impressive.
Trevor Guyton is a player that can contribute immediately. Unlike most defensive tackles on the roster, he brings quickness to the table along with good size.
"Trevor Guyton has really made a strong showing," Tedford said. "He's a big guy who's really quick. He really shows up quite a bit."
Another frosh DT that has made an impact is Payne. Along with incoming freshman LB Mychal Kendricks and defensive backs Josh Hill, Marc Anthony, and JUCO transfer Bryant Nnabuife, all are pushing for time in the rotation.
Kendricks is arguably the fastest linebacker on the field. Anthony and Hill both looked good throughout summer voluntary workouts. They have carried that work ethic over to fall camp. They easily could exit camp among the top five corners on the depth chart. Nnabuife is an unheralded JUCO transfer. Cal was not looking to bring him until spring 2009 until realized he was eligible out of high school and able to sign this season. In camp, the secondary is difficult to imagine without Nnabuife making his daily contributions. It seems the early signing is paying off so far in practice.
"Guyton, Payne, Kendricks, Nnabuife, Josh Hill, Marc Anthony; all of those guys have made a really strong showing and any one of them could play as freshmen on the defensive side of the ball," said Tedford.
Offensively, true frosh Marvin Jones continues to be one of the top performing receivers on a daily basis. Fellow true Charles Satchell also has looked at times. However, one minor surprise has been the play of true freshman TE Anthony Miller. He has great size and hands. New offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti loves to use the tight end, and in his offenses of the past, he can never have too many.
"On the offensive side of the ball, obviously the receivers, and Anthony Miller could very easily contribute as freshman," said Tedford. "And then the kicker, David Seawright, he was perfect today on field goals, so he could see some time."