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University of California Berkeley quarterback Zach Maynard warms up before a controlled scrimmage at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif. on Saturday, April 30, 2011. (Dean Coppola/Staff)

Zach Maynard will not be Cal's version of Cam Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy last season as a talented passer and runner for Auburn.

Nor will Maynard multitask like Colin Kaepernick, who parlayed his pistol-system magic at Nevada into a second-round draft selection by the 49ers.

But Maynard will bring excitement back to Cal's quarterback position. That is the plan, at least. That is why he got the job, which coach Jeff Tedford announced Saturday and elaborated on Monday.

"He brings a little more speed and athleticism than we've had there in the last few years," Tedford said during a media gathering at Candlestick Park, site of Cal's Sept. 3 opener against Fresno State. "You can see how college football is moving in that direction. It always helps to have a guy that, when things break down, he can manufacture some plays."

Cal's ability to produce playmaking quarterbacks has dried up since Aaron Rodgers left after 2004 for the NFL and a Super Bowl XLV title this past February for the Green Bay Packers.

This doesn't mean Tedford is abandoning his offensive scheme for a full-time carnival of option plays and gimmick fun. But credit Tedford for keeping up with the dual-threat, pass-run trend. He so happens to have one qualified quarterback at the ready.

Tedford likes to promote Maynard's "escape dimension." That term also depicts Cal's plight this season: a program trying to climb out of a rut while also fleeing Memorial Stadium's reconstruction zone. This season's home games will be played at AT&T Park. The game against Fresno State is considered a neutral site.


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Cal's offense is a work in progress, making Maynard's mobility both an asset and a job requirement, even if he isn't the next Newton or Kaepernick.

"It's really my own game," Maynard said Saturday about his style, which was last seen at the University of Buffalo in 2009 before he headed to Cal last year with younger brother Keenan Allen, now a sophomore. "Those guys (Newton and Kaepernick) are great quarterbacks. They run the ball a lot. But that's not something we're going to emphasize.

"We're not going to be a running team from the quarterback position, so it's going to be pass-first and then give the ball to the running backs. I'll get yards (rushing) where I can when we need to."

Tedford will call the majority of plays, and some will be designed quarterback runs. That said, the left-handed Maynard's top priority is to incorporate a receiving corps tabbed as the offense's strength.

"I like to pass first," Maynard added. "Running is just an asset I can choose to get out of the pocket and use my mobility to open up more passing lanes."

That sounds like a fit for Tedford's style. Don't be stunned, however, if Maynard expands his rushing presence, particularly to complement a slim stable of running backs led by Isi Sofele.

Maynard, a junior, showed enough promise in spring drills -- as a versatile passer, all-around athlete and potential leader -- that he beat out sophomore Allan Bridgford and senior Brock Mansion, who struggled upon replacing injured Kevin Riley during last season's 5-7 campaign.

When was the last time Tedford had a pupil who could rattle defenses with his legs, too?

He reeled off three names: Akili Smith (whom he tutored as Oregon's coordinator), Kyle Boller (who is on the last legs of his final NFL days with the Raiders) and Rodgers (who is reigning king of all quarterbacks thanks to Super Bowl XLV).

Maynard's American idols: Brett Favre (for his "huge arm" and confidence), Tom Brady (for his poise) and Dennis Dixon (for his play-making ability, more so from his 2006-07 stint as Oregon's starter than his Pittsburgh Steelers tenure).

"We're not going to use him the way Oregon used Dennis Dixon, because that was the spread-offense mentality," Tedford said. "But there will be a facet of our game that incorporates some of that from time to time."

It's a potentially dynamic facet Cal has lacked in recent seasons.

Maynard may not be Cal's answer to Newton, Kaepernick or Andrew Luck, this season's Heisman Trophy candidate at rival Stanford. But Maynard's "escape dimension" could keep Cal's offense on the move -- and it could get the program out of the doldrums.