Cal's crowded quarterback competition became a little more defined Thursday when coach Jeff Tedford started handing out the majority of the reps to only three of his signal-callers.
Senior Brock Mansion, junior Zach Maynard and sophomore Allan Bridgford took almost all of the reps, with redshirt freshman Austin Hinder receiving a handful.
Tedford stopped short of declaring the trio as the finalists for the starting job, but for now they appear to be ahead of Hinder and junior Beau Sweeney.
"We can't continue to rep everybody," Tedford said. "To have any efficiency, you can't rep that many quarterbacks. We made a decision to rep those three guys as of now and see how they perform and take it from there."
At this point, Hinder appears to be the No. 4 quarterback and Sweeney No. 5.
It's been a long fall for Sweeney, who spent most of the 2009 season and part of 2010 as the Bears' backup quarterback.
But Sweeney has been on a downward arc since last season when Mansion supplanted him as the No. 2 quarterback. Sweeney struggled in Cal's first full-pad practice Saturday.
"They all have to get a lot better," Tedford said.
Mansion is the only quarterback on Cal's roster who has taken a meaningful snap in a game. He started the final four games of last season after three-year starter Kevin Riley suffered season-ending calf and knee injuries. And while Mansion wasn't effective, his experience has carried him
"We have young guys -- guys who have not been under center," Tedford said. "There's only one guy on our team who has been behind the center. It's a noticeable difference when he's in opposed to everybody else."
Cal's offense, which was inconsistent with Riley at the helm last season, slowed to a standstill after Mansion took over. Mansion was inexperienced and ran into a couple of tough defenses, but he also simply didn't play well.
Despite having some experience now, Mansion doesn't seem to have any kind of upper hand in the current competition.
"Performance is going to matter," Mansion said. "Every day you have to come out and try to be consistent."
Maynard, who was Buffalo's starting quarterback in 2009, didn't enroll at Cal until January and is the least-tenured quarterback in spring camp. Despite his unfamiliarity with the Bears' system, he is firmly in play to earn the starting job. The left-hander is the half-brother of Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen and cousin of incoming freshman receiver Maurice Harris.
"There are a lot of question marks around the quarterback, and I'm just competing for the job," Maynard said. "I don't really know what's going on. I'm just going out there and having fun, trying to get that job."
Tedford is intrigued by Maynard's ability to run. He rushed for 455 yards for Buffalo in 2009 and has the best escapability among the top three. But Maynard also isn't as comfortable with Cal's playbook as the others.
"Zach does a lot of really good things, physically," Tedford said. He's very mobile and has a good escape dimension. We're putting a lot on him right now. That's how he's going to learn. When he has it down mentally and can play unconscious, I think he has shown so far in this little bit of time that he has some physical tools."
A shoulder injury has slowed Bridgford's development since he's been at Cal. He's fully healthy now, but the injury has affected his throwing mechanics, which he is trying to correct.
"Bridgford has some background with the offense but hasn't done it on the field," Tedford said. "To transform it from the classroom to the field, that's the next step. He has a long motion. When he gets more strength, hopefully we can tighten that up so it's not a long motion."