College football players sometimes consider leaving their teams when things aren’t going their way on the depth chart or when a new coach takes over the program. At Cal, both those factors are in play in the case of senior quarterback Allan Bridgford, who is taking a few days off to figure out his future.
Bridgford is the most experienced quarterback on the roster, but that hasn’t earned him any brownie points with the new coaching staff.
The Golden Bears’ new head coach, Sonny Dykes, told reporters on Wednesday: “He kind of got some news from us that he was going to get some reduced reps. Decided he’s going to take a day or two to kind of assess things some things.”
Dykes said he hoped Bridgford would decide to stay with the Bears for his fifth and final season, saying the senior’s wavering is “not a big deal.”
Still, if the outcome of Bridgford’s decision isn’t a big deal to the coaching staff, that’s a pretty obvious sign that something would have to change drastically between now and fall in order for him to see the field.
Bridgford started three games last season but his paltry numbers in relief of Zach Maynard wouldn’t have done much to help his case even with last year’s coaches. He completed 45.6% of his passes on the season, throwing for 277 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. (Although in fairness to Bridgford, the two full games bwo of those starts were against Oregon and Oregon State, teams that would’ve been tough competition even for a regular starter.)
This season, Cal will have a refreshed offense and, most likely, a brand new quarterback to run it. The Bears opened spring workouts with five quarterbacks vying for the top spots on the depth chart, but after three practices, the field is beginning to narrow.
Bridgford was slipping down the list and might take himself permanently out of the mix. Also falling behind in the competition is sophomore Kyle Boehm, who got significantly fewer reps by the fourth practice of spring.
It seems the race is now down to three: redshirt freshman Zach Kline, junior Austin Hinder, and freshman Jared Goff.
Hinder has waited patiently for three seasons and has reportedly gained confidence since the beginning of spring workouts, but Kline has long been the favorite to win the starting job. SB Nation’s California Golden Blog pointed out that, as the fourth-stringer last season, Kline traveled to every away game, presumably to help prepare him when he eventually ascends to QB 1 status.
That, of course, was during former coach Jeff Tedford‘s tenure, but through the first week of practice, Kline was the quarterback who got the most reps and made the fewest mistakes.
Goff is a true freshman, but he’s an early enrollee who’s making an early push for playing time, thanks to Dykes’ spread offense and its similarities to what Goff ran in high school. So far, he has surprised several Bears’ beat reporters who figured he’d be redshirting near the back of the long QB line.
There’s still a lot of football left to be played before the 2013 season, and there’s plenty of time for big shifts in the quarterback race, but for now, it seems like the one sure thing is that Bridgford won’t be quarterbacking for the Bears this year.