For the first time since he was a senior at Mission Viejo High, quarterback Allan Bridgford begins a week with a chance to start a football game.
"I think it would be awesome," Cal's redshirt sophomore said. "I'm going to do whatever is asked of me, of course. It's up to the coaches. I'm just going to work hard and do my thing."
Cal coach Jeff Tedford said Sunday that he will evaluate Bridgford and junior Zach Maynard throughout the week before determining who will start Saturday against Washington State at AT&T Park.
Maynard has started the Bears' first eight games this season, with mixed results. After exhibiting promise early this season, he has struggled in three of Cal's past four games. He threw four interceptions during Saturday's 31-14 loss at UCLA. Two weeks earlier, he was intercepted three times and lost a fumble in a 30-9 defeat to USC.
"He needs to be more consistent," Tedford said. "He plays real well at times and other times he lets the ball get away."
Despite the presence of fifth-year senior Brock Mansion, who started the final four games of the 2010 season, Bridgford won the backup job during training camp. He's appeared in three games this season in a mop-up role but has yet to take a meaningful snap in college.
Tedford wouldn't say how he would split the first-team reps this week but made it clear Bridgford will get a legitimate look.
"It gets your blood going, for sure," Bridgford said. "It would be super exciting and I'm ready for it. I'm going to do whatever the coaches ask me. I'm just ready to have fun out there."
Bridgford was one of the nation's highest-rated quarterback prospects coming out of Mission Viejo but suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder while weightlifting early in his freshman season. He didn't practice for most of that season and ultimately had surgery.
Bridgford played on Cal's scout team last season but said he didn't feel completely back to normal until spring practice this year.
"I've never forgotten about those times, and that's what makes football so fun for me right now," he said. "I feel like I've really discovered a new love for the game. It took a long time for it to feel normal again. It feels great right now. That's all that matters."
Tedford has spent much of the season cautioning that Maynard will have a steep learning curve since he transferred from a smaller program in Buffalo and had to sit out last season. Tedford acknowledged Maynard's learning curve "needs to improve, there's no doubt" but was encouraged his interceptions Saturday weren't a product of wrong reads as they were against USC.
"He's making the right reads. Now it's matter of being accurate with the ball," Tedford said."