Beau Sweeney was a forgotten man during training camp. Now, he's one play away from becoming the center of attention.
The inexperience of Cal's redshirt freshman quickly put him behind incumbent Kevin Riley and sophomore Brock Mansion in training camp. But Sweeney has made substantial strides since the season began, and he overtook Mansion as the team's No. 2 quarterback after the third game.
"He's been real consistent, mentally and physically through practice and game preparation," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "There's not a huge separation there. It's just he's been a little more consistent throwing the football."
Mansion figured to have an edge for the backup job, because he was the team's third-stringer last year and worked with the offense the entire season. Sweeney was the scout team quarterback last year, so he spent much of the season getting more familiar with the opponents' playbook than his own.
Mansion struggled for most of spring practice before putting together an impressive final few days. But Sweeney since has opened the eyes of the coaching staff to entrust him with the backup job.
He played in the late stages of Saturday's 49-17 win over Washington State, completing all three of his passes for 21 yards.
"I feel a lot more comfortable this year," Sweeney said. "I feel like I've learned a lot since fall camp. I'm thankful I'm getting the reps. It's not fun to be standing around. The reps are going to help me a lot in the future."
In most cases, only the first two quarterbacks get reps in practice. But Sweeney and Mansion are evenly splitting second-team reps. Tedford said Sweeney is the team's backup quarterback unless Mansion has a "much better week" than Sweeney.
"You have to practice and prepare like you're the starting quarterback just because you're one play away," Sweeney said. "I just do my best preparing for the game like I'm the No. 1 guy."