Fall Camp Notebook: Day Nine

This past Sunday, the Cal football coaching staff held its first personnel meeting, an early step at figuring out who will or won’t be getting minutes this season. After Monday’s practice, it seemed like Brendan Bigelow might be one of the many left out.The freshman tailback has seen a minimal workload through the recent days of camp. A hot topic even just a week ago, Bigelow now appears to be out of the running for playing time.

“He’s still learning,” head coach Jeff Tedford said. “You can’t ever count him out, but there’s a lot of backs and he’s still learning.”

While he was at Fresno’s Central East High, Bigelow tore his right ACL twice, forcing him to miss his senior season. At the start of camp, Bigelow had said that he felt faster than he did prior to surgery.

However, even he readily admits that he still needs to pick up on other facets of the game, such as blocking schemes and communication. Isi Sofele has locked down the No. 1 spot, and Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson appears to have the lead on the backup spot. Bigelow is only one of Cal’s five new backs vying for time, all of whom still must compete with junior Dasarte Yarnway for the third-string spot.

But even if he ends up redshirting, he maintained that the possibility — which he pegs at 50-50 — is still a “win-win situation” that will only give him more time to improve.

“I can see why they’re taking it slow with me and I appreciate that,” said Bigelow, who added that he still needs to learn to be patient. “It frustrates me a little bit, but I’m getting over it.”

Maynard Making Strides

Tedford might be Zach Maynard’s biggest fan. Although the quarterback has only 15 spring practices and a week of fall camp under his belt, he’s already earned steady praise from the tenth-year coach.

After a trying season that saw Brock Mansion struggle in relief of an injured Kevin Riley, Tedford continually reaffirms his confidence in his current group of quarterbacks — starting, of course, with Maynard, who he named as his starter after the spring.

“He’s very accurate throwing the ball,” Tedford said. “He throws all the balls really well. He can throw the deep ball, he can throw the comebacks on a line, he’s got touch for the intermediate stuff, so he’s got all the balls.”

Tedford added that he had never had another quarterback as elusive on the ground as Maynard.

Although the junior is a lefty, there are no plans to shift veteran left tackle Mitchell Schwartz to the right side. The three-year starter matched up against what will usually be the opposition’s top defensive end, while junior Matt Summers-Gavin will be charged with protecting Maynard’s blindside.

“A lot of times, the guy that’s in your face is more disruptive than the guy behind you because you don’t see the guy behind you,” Tedford said.