Cal QB Jackson returns to practice, but Wilcox not ready to say if he’ll play against Auburn

Transfer from TCU injured his non-throwing shoulder or arm in season-opening win at North Texas

BERKELEY, CA — Cal coach Justin Wilcox did not say whether starting quarterback Sam Jackson V would be available to face Auburn in the Bears’ home opener on Saturday night.

However, backup Ben Finley, who performed admirably off the bench when Jackson was injured in Cal’s 58-21 victory over North Texas, stated that he expects his teammate to be on the field.

“I’ll just be prepared.” “I’m glad Sam is healthy and practicing right now,” Finley said during a press conference on Tuesday. “I just want to win in whatever way they can use me this Saturday.”

Cal and Auburn will meet for the first time at Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ESPN will broadcast the game.

Jackson, a third-year sophomore transfer from TCU, was injured early in the second quarter of the Bears’ season-opening game on Saturday and did not return. His arm was in a sling during the second half, but Wilcox said after the game that he could have played again if necessary.

Three days later, Wilcox was still unwilling or unable to provide a definitive answer on whether Jackson will face the Southeastern Conference’s Tigers.

“Sam’s day-to-day,” Wilcox explained. ‘He was out there running around today, practicing. We’ll make that decision when the time comes. There’s nothing new to report today.”

Wilcox also stated that the status of starting center Matthew Cindric, one of the team’s top offensive linemen, is unknown after suffering an injury in the first half. After the Bears rolled up 669 yards of offense, Brian Driscoll, who moved over from guard to fill Cindric’s spot, was named Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Week.

Wilcox stated that defensive lineman Nate Burrell, who was also injured at North Texas, should be able to play.

Wilcox declined to say whether he might use both quarterbacks, assuming they are available, because he did not want to share too much with Auburn, which routed UMass 59-14 in its opener.

“That’s a decision we’ll make, and it’s probably not one we’ll be discussing during the week,” he said. “I suppose that everything is on the table.”

Both players performed admirably in the first game.

Jackson finished 3-for-4 for 33 yards and a touchdown, with a drop as his only incompletion. He also ran for 18 yards three times.

Finley transferred from North Carolina State over the summer, giving the coaching staff less time to assess him than Jackson, who was present for spring practice.

But Wilcox said after the game and again Tuesday that the coaching staff was not surprised by Finley’s performance, which included a touchdown and an interception.

“Thought he demonstrated strong offensive command and was confident. He stood there throwing the ball. Wilcox described his decision as “decisive.” “He wasn’t perfect — he’d admit it.” I think he did an excellent job.”

Finley was pleased that his coaches were impressed, but he was even happier to have gained the trust of his teammates.

“On the first drive, I was almost nervous… “I wanted to go out and not try to prove anything to my team, but just let them know, ‘Hey, I’m here, and I’m going to help ’em in any way,'” he explained. “I’m just making sure they have faith in me.” I’ve always felt like I belonged, but a win like that definitely helps.”

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