When Cal coach Jeff Tedford was asked to evaluate the performance of his quarterbacks following Saturday's first full-pad practice of the spring, he said: "Not very good."

When asked about the competition at tailback, he said: "Right now, besides Isi (Sofele), there's not a back that can play at our level."

Other than that, the offense seems to be doing just fine.

While acknowledging that early in spring practice the defense is ahead of the offense, Tedford still sounds none too pleased about where his offense is. He knows there is a long way to go until the 2011 opener on Sept. 3 against Fresno State, but he is hoping to see more over the next four weeks of spring practice.

"There's a lot of learning going on for the offense," Tedford said. "You have a lot of young offensive guys playing. Those guys have to get used to the speed of the game."

While much of the attention this spring is rightly focused on the inexperience Cal has at quarterback and the competition taking place there, the Bears have similar uncertainty at tailback. In recent years, when Cal has broken in a new starter, he had proven himself in a backup role that the Bears felt comfortable with the transition. From Marshawn Lynch to Justin Forsett to Jahvid Best to Shane Vereen, each tailback stepped in with no reservations around the program.


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This year is different. Sofele was the backup last season but carried the ball just 69 times and is far from a sure thing. That being said, Tedford says at this point Sofele is light years ahead of any of his challengers.

"Right now, there's a difference between him and the next few guys," Tedford said.

One of those guys is junior Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, who has been in the program longer than any other tailback on the roster. A knee injury late last season set back his conditioning, and he weighs 225 pounds, about 10 pounds more than he'd like.

"Everyone is about two weeks ahead of me," DeBoskie-Johnson said. "I feel good, but I just know I'm heavy. I can feel myself being heavy."

  • Cal could use a playmaking wide receiver, and one candidate is redshirt freshman Kaelin Clay. Tedford says Clay is the team's fastest player -- he finished third in the state meet in the 100 meters as a senior in high school (10.44 seconds) -- and had a good practice Saturday.

    "When Kaelin plays, he brings another dimension to the game," Tedford said. "He's a guy on the field that has big-time, Jahvid and DeSean (Jackson) speed. I'm not sure he's that fast, but he's not far behind them. He has big-play potential."

  • Tedford said redshirt freshman linebacker Dave Wilkerson is going to stay on the outside. Wilkerson came to Cal last year as a middle linebacker but was moved to outside linebacker during training camp because of depth problems. At the time, the plan was to ultimately move Wilkerson back inside.

    But Tedford says Wilkerson is more suited for the outside, and that will be his home.

    "That's where he knows," Tedford said. "He can be a real force coming off the edge. He's hard to block coming off the edge."

  • Tedford said he's going to cut the quarterback competition to the top three this week. Senior Brock Mansion figures to already have a spot in the mix. That means either Beau Sweeney, Zach Maynard or Allan Bridgford is out.