BERKELEY — It must be a little disconcerting for Cal fans to look at the offensive line and see three players who had never taken a Division I snap before this season.
On the flip side, at this time next season they will still be young players with substantial experience.
Left tackle Mitchell Schwartz, right guard Justin Cheadle and right tackle Donovan Edwards are learning on the fly during the second half of this season. They've held up well at times, made mistakes at others.
But they are talented, and should be better in the future.
"Those guys are getting in there and battling," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "I think the growth and the development will continue. They all care. They all work hard. Each week, they'll continue to improve."
Throw in walk-on sophomore Mark Boskovich at left guard, and center Alex Mack is the only member of the offensive line who had any measurable experience before this season. Boskovich saw just a handful of snaps last year.
Schwartz and Cheadle both are redshirt freshmen and part of Cal's 2007 highly touted offensive line recruiting class. Edwards, a sophomore, is a junior college transfer.
"Playing games like the one we just played, having that many young guys play, should be really, really rewarding in the future," Boskovich said. "Playing in that situation is quite a learning experience. My first game (against Colorado State), I was pretty nervous. I wasn't
While most of Cal's receivers have said all year they don't have a preference who plays quarterback, junior Nyan Boateng did admit that it might be better to stick with one guy.
Boateng pointed to last week's game at USC, where Kevin Riley replaced Nate Longshore at halftime and struggled his way to 4-of-16 passing for 59 yards and an interception.
"At first, as a receiving corps, we felt like it didn't matter who was in there," Boateng said. "But in the middle of a game when you switch quarterbacks like that, the timing gets thrown off a little bit. I think we need to just have one guy and stick with it."
Boateng also said he's been frustrated with the Bears' lack of production in the passing game but acknowledged it's not too surprising because of the team's inexperience.
"It's been real frustrating, but that's what happens when you have new starters and you graduate all your receivers," Boateng said. "It takes a little bit of time. I didn't think it was going to go this far into the season, but I think we learned a lot from (the USC game) and I think we're going to build on it."
One for the road
Excitement is higher than it's been in years around Oregon State these days, so Cal should expect an electric atmosphere when it visits Reser Stadium on Saturday to play the No. 23 Beavers. Oregon State can win the Pac-10 if it wins its final three games.
But playing a tough road game in Corvallis may not be such a bad thing for the Bears. Cal has won the past two games at Oregon State by a combined score of 90-20.
Meanwhile, the Beavers have taken each of the past three games between the teams at Memorial Stadium. The last home team to win in the series was Oregon State, 24-13 in 2002.
"It's hard to explain," Tedford said. "There's a reversal of what's supposed to happen."
— Jonathan Okanes