BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - New California coach Sonny Dykes is ready to start the search for a quarterback to run his Bear Raid offense.
The Golden Bears are set to begin their first spring practice under Dykes next week with one of the main tasks being to identify the quarterback to run his high-powered offense.
Last year's starter, Zach Maynard, has used up his eligibility, leaving a wide-open race that includes Allan Bridgford and two promising quarterbacks from the past two recruiting classes: redshirt freshman Zach Kline and early enrollee Jared Goff.
The other quarterbacks in the mix include Austin Hinder and Kyle Boehm and Dykes hopes to whittle down the competitors for the starting job as quickly as possible.
``The sooner the better,'' Dykes said Wednesday. ``Reps at the quarterback are the most valuable commodity there is. Whoever the starter is, we want to get them prepared and as ready as we can.''
Dykes said in an ideal world he'd know his starter after Monday's first practice but realistically he'd like to narrow the field to two or three quickly and then pick the starter early in fall practice.
After years of running a mostly pro-style offense under former coach Jeff Tedford, the Bears will use a spread-passing, shotgun attack that Dykes has had great success with as an assistant and head coach over the years.
Because of the change in system, the coaching staff hasn't spent much time looking at old film knowing that may not translate to his offense.
``We haven't really been able to make any judgments because it's a new system,'' Dykes said. ``Some guys will pick this up faster than they did the last one, others will pick it up slower. Some guys will feel comfortable with this, other guys will feel more comfortable with the old one. There are differences. We're in the shotgun almost exclusively. Some guys will be more comfortable being in the gun than under center.''
Dykes, the son of former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, honed his offense as coordinator under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Dykes later spent three seasons as offensive coordinator at Arizona under Mike Stoops before becoming head coach at Louisiana Tech before the 2010 season. He also coached two years as an assistant at Kentucky under Hal Mumme.
Dykes coached one of the nation's most prolific offenses at Louisiana Tech last year with the Bulldogs leading the nation with 51.5 points per contest and ranking second with 577.9 yards per game.
He said the offense is easy to learn but hard to master with the speed and consistency necessary to be successful.
``They'll look terrible at first,'' Dykes said. ``You'll come to practice and say, `Wow those guys are awful.' It's part of the deal. When you're teaching 90 guys something brand new, that they've never done before, it's not going to look like poetry in motion.''
Bridgford is the only quarterback on the roster with any experience. He played the first quarter of the season opener last season when Maynard was suspended for violating team rules and then started the final two games after Maynard went down with a left knee injury.
Bridgford completed 31 of 68 passes for 277 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Bridgford also played briefly the previous season and has completed just 44 percent of his passes in 10 games at Cal.
Kline is spending his second spring practice at Cal after enrolling last year but it's his first experience with the new offense. Kline sat out last season as a redshirt but arrived in Berkeley with impressive credentials as a four-star recruit from nearby Danville who threw 36 touchdown passes as a senior in high school and was considered to have one of the strongest arms in his class.
Goff also enrolled early this year at Cal to get a head start on his college career. He was ranked as the eighth-best pro-style quarterback in his class by Rivals after throwing for 7,687 yards and 93 touchdowns in his prep career for nearby Marin Catholic High School.
Cal enters spring ball short-handed at running back with top returnees Brendan Bigelow (right knee) and Daniel Lasco (shoulder) sidelined with injuries that should be healed by the start of fall practice.
Among other key players who are injured and will miss spring ball are offensive lineman Chris Adcock (shoulder), receivers Chris Harper (shoulder), Richard Rodgers (shoulder) and Spencer Hagan (knee); defensive linemen Chris McCain (shoulder), Brennan Scarlett (hand) and Sione Sina (knee). Defensive lineman Austin Clark and linebacker Jason Gilbert will be limited by foot injuries.
All are expected to be fully recovered for fall practice.