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Cal will look to the portal to find another quarterback before the 2023 season
Cal offensive coordinator Jake Spavital likes what he sees from Sam Jackson and Fernando Mendoza, but he'd like more options.
Near the end of spring practice, Cal offensive coordinator Jake Spavital outlined his plans for the offseason with regards to future quarterback roster management for the long 2023 offseason ahead.
“You’d love to have a more mobile quarterback or you gotta have an elite arm talent [like Davis Webb]. You take the best available you possibly can and adapt to them.”
“You’d like to see if they have any experience. If they’ve been in games, ‘I’ve done it already’. Sam’s been in a couple of games, but not much. Fernando’s never been in one. So there’s going to be the first game nerves.”
Experienced signal-caller is the name of the game for Spavital, as Cal’s quarterback depth chart lacks meaningful Power 5 snaps. Sam Jackson played a handful from his true freshman season at TCU. Redshirt freshman Fernando Mendoza has not seen a snap in a college football game.
Jackson has been playing primarily with the 1s on the depth chart as the likely starter. He’s been moving the football with his legs and has shown a solid ability to air it out with deep balls. But in situational drills, there has been a bit of a learning curve for the redshirt sophomore. Jackson has had room for improvement in short yardage plays as well as red zone situations. So in terms of fundamentals, there’s still a ways to go before Spavital is probably comfortable with naming Jackson the starter.
With Mendoza, there is a steady consistency he’s shown with mostly the 2s, managing steady completion rates. He lacks the playmaking of Jackson, but has done a good job keeping up in terms of passing efficiency, occasionally outshining him with the better performance (he had the better Saturday scrimmage prior to spring ball). Still, the young Miami QB has a lot more to learn before he can win this job.
Both Mendoza and Jackson have shown plenty of promise in practice, so it’s not the clear-cut runaway battle that last year’s Jack Plummer vs. Kai Millner clash was. Thus no clear starter has been named after the conclusion of spring.
That being said, as mentioned yesterday, Spavital’s offense is brand new to nearly the entire team, so it’s far from being a finished product and might not be until the season is underway. With an offense still in the midst of being installed and neither quarterback having been able to really go deep in the action, it’s to be expected we won’t have a starting QB in place after spring. It might not even happen until the fall.
But it does open the door for another name or two to enter the battle for the starting job via the portal. There’s an opportunity here for an advanced signal-caller to come in and stake a name for himself.
Cal’s quarterback position is one of the most wide open in football, and if anyone from the outside wants to throw themselves into the battle, it’ll be more than welcomed by the coaching staff.